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chicks won't leave the coop

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have 11 chicks in my regular coop in a partitioned off "nursery" area.


I started with 5 4wk chicks, at 5wks old I moved the edge of the dividing fence to allow the chicks into the main section of the coop but keep the adults out of the nursery area.  On the first day of full access to the regular coop area, the chicks all ended up out in the run with the adults.  They spent the day out there, if they got near an adult they got pecked but if they stayed away from the adults they were left alone.  They found the food and water and kept to themselves the rest of the day.  At dark I had to manually pick them up and put them back in the coop.


I got an offer for 6 more chicks(maybe a week younger than my existing 5 chicks) the day after opening the nursery to the main area.  So I reclosed the main area access and added the new chicks.  The mixing of the two batches of chicks went well and there were no major problems with the integration.


A few days after introducing the new chicks I re-opened the access to the adult section of the coop.  All the chicks now come and go between the "nursery" section and the adult section of the coop, some even roost at night in the adult section.




Now the problem:  The chicks won't come out of the coop into the run on their own.  I see them all day long peeking out of the pop door, some come out onto the top of the ramp for a moment or two or I can coax them out onto the ramp with treats but as soon as they finish the treats they return to the coop.  This past weekend I let the adults out to free range before trying to coax the chicks out, thinking that maybe they were too afraid of the adults.  I coaxed them out with the treats but they still wanted no part of the run, eat the treats and return to the coop.



So should I force them out into the run and monitor the flock to make sure they are not abused by the adults or should I just leave them to their own schedule and let them find their own way out when they feel like it?

post #2 of 5
Unless there is some problem with leaving them in the coop, I'd let thrm develop their confidence at their own pace.
post #3 of 5

Jen is right, again. You are fighting against chick instinct for survival. Their behavior is completely normal.


What you have going on is two things. One is the obvious - the chicks are justifiably wary of the adults. Of course they understand the possibility they will be beaten up or injured or even killed by an adult. They probably know better than you the temperaments of the adults. If you were to observe, I bet you would see some aggression on the part of one or two of the adults.


The other thing is chicks are very hesitant to go anywhere that is unfamiliar. They will test the water very gradually like you would when going to the beach, not relishing diving into water they aren't sure of.


You can make it an easier integration for the chicks if you would rig up a "panic room" for them. It's any enclosure they can duck into when the pecking order becomes overwhelming where the adults can't follow. Food and water are placed inside so the chicks don't need to compete with the adults, who typically try to keep chicks away, and sometimes there's a danger of chicks not getting enough to eat and drink.


I make the openings roughly 5 "x 7", or smaller, depending on the size of the adults. This accommodates chicks up to three months, and they will use the panic room until they no longer fit.


As for free-ranging, it involves the same instinct for survival, and chicks are slow to leave the protection of the run, too, preferring to stick close for a few weeks before venturing very far.


I integrate my chicks at three weeks using the panic room system. It's a real confidence builder, and my chicks are able to develop it early on because they have this safe refuge. You can see pics of it by clicking on the second link on outdoor brooding below my post.

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback.


My setup already has a "panic room" built in.  They have an nursery area in the coop with openings on both ends that they can get through but the adults can't, so this means they can get away and also have their own food and water to access without getting harassed by the adults.


I don't expect them to freerange yet, just looking for them to spend some time in the run itself.  The free ranging was mentioned because I let the adults out to free range before trying to coax the chicks out into the run without the adults around to stress them out. 


I see the chicks peeking out of the pop door and coming out to the top of the ramp all the time but that's pretty much all they do.  Guess I'll just give them some more time to figure it out on their own.  The funny part is when I open the service door to fill their feed/water, they all gather in the doorway and almost hang upside down looking at the grass down below them.  None try to jump down but you can tell they want to.


thanks again for the feedback

post #5 of 5

If they don't have a similar safe area in the run, they will not be able to make it back into the coop to their "nursery" in time to avoid getting pounded by the big chickens.


Your chicks have probably sized up the run and determined they'd be easy targets with no safe place there in which to find refuge.


Don't expect your chicks to be able to remember there's a panic room in the coop when they're out in the run. It will all look completely different to them from that angle. They need a similar panic room in the run unless you want to risk injuries. Or worse. Older chicks can be more dangerous to small chicks than adult chickens since they're immature and love to bully chicks for sport.

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