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post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hello I'm fairly new to raising chickens and new to this page. I've raised my chicks up and are now in my coop but they don't like to go up the ramp and into the housing at night. The last few days I have put the feeder up in there to try to get them to go up and down to get used to it but it's not working as planned. It's not that steep.. Just looking for more help on getting them used to going up and down. I've been picking them up and putting them in the housing box at night so they aren't out on the ground and they come down in the mornings with no problem. Any tips or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.
post #2 of 7

Welcome to BYC!

This is a common "issue" encountered by new chicken keepers when they move their chicks from the brooder to the coop.  Chicks being raised by a hen would have just naturally learned the routine by following along behind her - in the case of brooder raised chicks this is not possible so you become the hen and teach them the routine.  There are a few ways you can accomplish this, which is best will depend in large part on your coop and what method can be used in it.

Is your coop one with our without much in the way of windows?  Is your coop large enough to accommodate you going inside or is it one of the smaller types? 

From the chicks' perspective, they stay outside as long as possible - until the last bit of daylight is fading.  Unfortunately, most coops are such that by this time the interior of the coop is pretty much pitch black dark and looks more like a scary, dark cave than in inviting haven of safety -- so, instead of going inside they end up huddled up outside in the run.  Mature birds go in before the last minute, fill their crops, get a few drinks of water and get to roost before it is completely dark inside the coop. 

As dusk starts to settle, go out and start your training of the chicks so they learn that the dimming of daylight is the cue to start your bedtime routine.  One easy thing that can help is to use a small light (can be a battery operated flashlight/lantern if no electric is available) so that the interior of the coop remains lighter than the outside - making the coop more inviting than outside....as it gets darker outside they are drawn into the light. 

Have you taught the birds to respond to being called or respond to the noise of a favorite treat?  From inside the coop (easiest if man sized, possible in smaller coops with a little imagination) call to them and rattle that favorite snack so they are drawn to come up into the coop. 

Alternatively, you can gently "herd" them up the ramp and into the coop or, if need be, catch them and place them into the coop -- the last one is my least favored approach because I prefer methods that have the birds making the move under their own power vs. having it done for them. 

For the first few nights it may be helpful to go ahead and block the door so that they have to stay in once you get them in.  This will help them learn to go to roost and settle in vs. trying to run back out and ending up "stuck" outside again.

Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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post #3 of 7

There's a good chance you're not seeing them go into the box, even though they are if need be.

 

We have a separate coop within the main coop that the littler ones go into that has a ramp into the upper section.  Several times I worried about the same thing since it was still getting fairly chilly at night and tried herding people in, picking them up and placing them in, and watching them run down the ramp.

 

A couple of days later it got even colder and that next morning I wandered down there before first light and sure enough, they were all crammed into the upper box staying warm.  Judging from the amount of poop, they were only in there for the cold nights, happy enough in other places in the coop to stay warm.

 

I liken this to the brooder deal: they will find a way to stay warm (enough) without our help, or our heat lamps.  One thing I will never discount throughout all the years raising chickens is their ability to survive, even at a young age.

 

And it can be even more simple than that: they're young and like to stay out as late as possible. ;)

post #4 of 7

Can you provide a picture of the coop?

 

What some people view as a wonderful "looking" coop, the birds don't like at all, so won't use unless they are forced into it. Think jail cell.

 

My daughter has a coop that was given to her, but her birds far and away preferred the little playground set (with covered fort on top) in their backyard to the coop. The fort area was higher up, provided sheltered roosting space that was well ventilated. This compared to the tight, cramped conditions inside the coop, which had a small shelter and larger uncovered run, which quickly became a mud run if not moved on a regular basis. My daughter got frustrated with them not using the designated coop and leaving droppings on the kids playground equipment instead. In the end, their refusal to use it was their undoing.........a fox got em.

 

Lesson learned was to emulate what the birds wanted to use vs. what she wanted them to use (a nice looking coop).

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
I don't have a picture of it now. But the last two nights have been weird. I put a light in the coop and two nights ago I had one get in there had to manually put the others in. Then next night I had two get in there and now tonight they were all in there about half hour before dark then went out to check on them about 45 minutes after dark and they were all out and curled up in a ball under the coop. I'm lost. Any more help would be great.
post #6 of 7
The ramp should not be the issue. Mine usually just hop the 12 " to the threshold bypassing the ramp.

Did you do the house arrest in the beginning? They need to be confined in any new coop for a few days to establish that this is their home.

I Never use light to lead them. Once they know where home is. They will come home to roost at dusk.
Edited by ECBW - 5/12/16 at 8:47am
post #7 of 7

Ol Grey Mare gave you the key - light it up inside at night!  Just one of those battery operated push lights (looks like a big white button) or something along those lines turned on before it gets dark, should help lure them up to safety.  Turn it off after they're inside.  Try it for a week or so, even if it means you still might need to lift them up there into for a night or two. 

 

Also, make sure the ramp isn't too steep (sprinkle treats along it to lure them - if all the treats rolls off, it may be too steep)...

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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