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Adult Hens Roosting in Run - No Mites or Predators

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've searched this forum pretty thoroughly and read all the posts about chickens not roosting in their hen house. So let me begin by clarifying the following (as it will probably answer most of your initial questions):

  

  - All are exactly a year old and have been laying for a while. 

  - All have been happily trotting into the hen house at night - all through last summer, fall, and winter.

  - I have thoroughly checked the hen house for mites, as well as the birds. No signs whatsoever.

  - The hen house does not have a light.

  - The perches they are trying to roost on are located inside the run, but outside the hen house sleeping area. They are higher than the perches inside the hen house.

  - There is hardware cloth buried 3 feet out around the entire coop and run, so no predators have been inside.

  - The hen house has good ventilation.

 

So... why would they all be trying to roost inside the run at night, rather than going in the hen house portion? They are not trying to roost anywhere outside... always in the run portion. 

 

Photos of coop are below. 

 

 

Thanks!

I'd love it if you would check out my blog: www.hensinmygarden.com. It's new, but let me know what you think!
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I'd love it if you would check out my blog: www.hensinmygarden.com. It's new, but let me know what you think!
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post #2 of 6

You've done a splendid job of providing us information in order to help you figure out your problem, but you've left out some important stuff.

 

What breed are they? If they are Cochins or Brahmas, they may have become too heavy to jump up or down from a high perch. Even if the perch is lower than the one outside, is there adequate bedding to help them avoid a painful dismount and foot injuries. (Have you examined their feet for bumblefoot, by the way?) Also, that ramp may be too steep for them. Try elevating it at the bottom to decrease the angle.

 

What is the diameter of the roosting perch? If it's small than three inches, it's too narrow to be comfortable, and will cause skeletal deformities.

 

How many chickens are in the flock and how long is the perch in the coop? If it's too short, chickens have a terrible time hopping up without knocking off the ones already up there. This causes conflicts that most chickens will eventually try to avoid by roosting somewhere else.

 

Is the coop too hot? Is there adequate ventilation?

 

And last, have you examined the coop for possible entry holes for mice and rats and snakes. Chickens are quick to avoid a coop they have to share with these vermin.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi Azygous,

There are four hens in the flock now (2 more on the way when they're big enough though). Breeds are Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Wyandotte, and Americana... so none are excessively large breeds. No one has any foot injuries, and there is a thick layer of pine shavings on the floor of the coop. I'm very good about keeping it clean, so there isn't a build up of droppings. 

 

I don't think the ramp is a problem, as they go up and down it all day long when they head into the nesting boxes to lay. They have no trouble with it now, and they haven't for the past year. 

 

Roosting perches are 2x2 cedar bars, and again, they've had no problem in the past year with those. There are two roosting bars in the hen house, each 3 or 4 feet long (can't remember which). 

 

I've examined the coop and run for any sign of vermin entry, and there are none. I buried hardware cloth 3 feet out from the coop in all directions.

 

I hope that answers all of your questions. :)

I'd love it if you would check out my blog: www.hensinmygarden.com. It's new, but let me know what you think!
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I'd love it if you would check out my blog: www.hensinmygarden.com. It's new, but let me know what you think!
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post #4 of 6

Thanks for the additional info.

 

Well, I agree you have a mystery on your hands. Nothing points to infrastructure as being a problem, so that leaves chicken behavior. To investigate, you'll need to get out there at dusk and watch your chickens and see what they do. It might turn up a clue.

 

Another thing you might do is retrain them to sleep in the coop by putting them inside for a few nights in a row and closing them in so they have to sleep there. Maybe after several nights, they will become habituated again to sleeping in the coop.

 

When you do permit them to once again go in on their own, I would observe at dusk and see if they hesitate to go in. You might discover the reason for it. It might be a personality conflict between a couple of them that's disrupting the process for all.

 

This is a problem that appears on these threads quite regularly, so you aren't alone. Maybe someone who has solved the problem will happen along.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

I guess I will be spending some time on my porch swing the next couple of evenings just observing, as you suggested. Good idea. 

 

I've put them into the coop for probably 10 days in a row now, and they don't come back out once I put them in there. But the following night, they just roost outside again. So I'll keep an eye on them at dusk when they go in and see if I can figure something out 

 

Thanks for your help... the mystery is just bugging me.

 

I was wondering though... if the entire coop and run are secure, is there any issue just letting them roost in the run and sleep there?

I'd love it if you would check out my blog: www.hensinmygarden.com. It's new, but let me know what you think!
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I'd love it if you would check out my blog: www.hensinmygarden.com. It's new, but let me know what you think!
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post #6 of 6

You know, I've asked myself that question of my flock in case they should decide one day to start roosting in their enclosed, secure run. There really is no reason I can think of that it would hurt anything, the one possible exception being that they would be more visible to predators.

 

But it doesn't matter. The run and coops are all encircled with hot wire, which is activated right now since bears are coming out of hibernation.

 

The thing is, the only time any of my chickens roosted overnight in the run was on the rare occasion when I went brain dead and left them locked out of their coop. They prefer as much cover as they can find, and the run would leave them way more visible.

 

So, it really is a mystery why your chickens are defying instinct and preferring to roost in the run. There has to be something more compelling than instinct at work here.

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