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Am I starting a bad habit???

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by urbanfarmers, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. urbanfarmers

    urbanfarmers In the Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Bellevue, Nebraska
    My 2 hens and my roo are all cuddling in a nesting box at night. I have moved them to the roost over and over but they keep going in that one nesting box at night. Do I leave them alone or keep trying to get them to sleep on the roost?

    All 8 of my 8 wk old Wy's are crowding into a corner in the run at night and won't go back in the coop. So everynight at dusk I head out, round them up and put them in the coop and then close the door so they can't get out. Last night they all cried their little hearts out and pushed at the door to get back into the run...funniest thing I have ever seen, 8 chicks trying to break down a coop door! Am I creating a bad habit for them by putting them in the coop myself or will they eventually learn that sleeping in the coop is the thing to do. We locked them in the coop for a few days in the beginning so they would know where home base is but they still want to sleep in that stinking corner in the run. We don't have power in our coop so I'm not able to put a light in the coop at night.
     

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    My 2 hens and my roo are all cuddling in a nesting box at night. I have moved them to the roost over and over but they keep going in that one nesting box at night. Do I leave them alone or keep trying to get them to sleep on the roost?

    Is your roost clearly higher than your nesting box? Normally chickens instinctively try to sleep on the highest suitable thing available. If your roost is higher, a photo might help because something is not right. Unless you want your eggs to be covered in poop, you do need to get them to roost on the roost and not in the nesting box.

    All 8 of my 8 wk old Wy's are crowding into a corner in the run at night and won't go back in the coop. So everynight at dusk I head out, round them up and put them in the coop and then close the door so they can't get out. Last night they all cried their little hearts out and pushed at the door to get back into the run...funniest thing I have ever seen, 8 chicks trying to break down a coop door! Am I creating a bad habit for them by putting them in the coop myself or will they eventually learn that sleeping in the coop is the thing to do. We locked them in the coop for a few days in the beginning so they would know where home base is but they still want to sleep in that stinking corner in the run. We don't have power in our coop so I'm not able to put a light in the coop at night

    I assume your WY's are Wyandotte chickens, not some type of duck or turkey or something else.

    I think you need to teach them to sleep in the coop. I assume it is safer against predators as long as you lock the door. Also they are much better protected against severe weather inside the coop than in the run. Were these raised by a broody with the flock? If so, they should be well integrated and should not be afraid to sleep in the coop. If you raised them in a brooder and have recently integrated them with your rooster and two hens, they may be afraid of the big ones.
     
  3. urbanfarmers

    urbanfarmers In the Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Bellevue, Nebraska
    Yes, our roost is above the nesting boxes...I will try to get a pic and post it. The nesting box they are sleeping in is the lower left hand one....lowest spot in the coop. I find them in there during the day as well. Not sleeping, just hanging out...all 3 of them.

    As for the chicks, we bought them from a young man that does 4H. He hatched some eggs...various types of chickens...under a light (new to this so not sure what you call it) and then ended up with lots of chickens he didn't need for 4H so he was selling them.

    The Rhode Island hens chase the little Wyandottes around now and then...a lot at first but pretty much leave them alone most of the time now. When all of the chickens are in the coop the 3 older ones don't even bother the little ones, they all walk around, pick at the food, drink the water and pretty much just hang out like chickens do.

    Our coop and run are safe from predators...the chicken wire is burried in the ground....so I doubt anything can get in or out. Our dogs even hang out near the coop/run and chase away anything wondering around. When the neighbor dog is let out our dogs chase her away from the fence so she can't even look at the chickens.

    Any way, that's about it. Just don't know how to get my chicks to go in the coop at night or how to keep the older chickens out of the nesting box when they aren't laying eggs. They all love to walk around, scratch at the dirt and pick at the ground so I hate to lock them back in the coop again.
     
  4. urbanfarmers

    urbanfarmers In the Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Bellevue, Nebraska
    Here is what our nesting boxes and roost look like. Hopefully we did it right and I just have stubborn chickens that don't want to roost!

    [​IMG]
     
  5. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    maybe theres a problem with your roost? my youngsters wouldn't roost on the original I gave them I thought bamboo would be a wonderful natural roost but its ok for them to sit on in the run but I think they wanted a flat roost when trying to sleep.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I admit I don't understand what the problem is with them roosting on that. It is clearly higher than the nests and they have a way up there. Mine jump up 4 feet to get to my round tree branches to roost on. I'd suggest you keep putting them on the roosts at night and hope they get the message. All I can think of.

    Good luck!
     
  7. urbanfarmers

    urbanfarmers In the Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Bellevue, Nebraska
    Great news! Last night when I went out to round up our chicks and put them in their coop for the night, they were already in the coop! I'm so happy I didn't have to put them to bed for once. Now let's just hope it wasn't a fluke and they continue to go in their coop at night! Just had to share the great news! [​IMG]
     

  8. math ace

    math ace Crowing

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    Jacksonville, FL
    Here is a thought for you - - - - we raised our chicks in the winter - - - so there was a heat lamp on 24/7.

    When they got big enough to be moved to the coop - - - they went nuts on us. We firgured out quickly what the problem was.
    The Coop didn't have a light on and the chicks weren't use to being in total darkness.

    When we turned the light on everybody settled right down. We had to treat the chicks like a 2 year child for a few days.
    We weened them to a lower watt light and then a night light and finally no light.
     
  9. Frza

    Frza In the Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2010
    Portland
    Are the nest box sleepers young? My birds did that for a couple of weeks when I fist moved them out of the brooder and into the coop. On the advice of another BYCer i obstructed the nest boxes so they couldn't get in there. Within a day or so they figured out how to roost and have done so ever since. I block their access to the nest boxes for about a month. Now they have access but dont sleep in there at night. It worked well.
     
  10. Woofless

    Woofless Chirping

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    Apr 7, 2010
    SD
    I asked a similar question a few weeks ago when my birds were 6-8 weeks old. I'd just begun shutting them out in the main growout pen instead of inside the brooding building with the heat lamp (building & pen are connected via a little doggy door thing and I'd just shut the doggy door permanently). And I was concerned that they were all huddling up against the little door on the ground, instead of roosting.

    A couple folks mentioned that their young birds would all huddle together in odd spots too and they eventually grew out of the behavior and "discovered" their perches once they got a little older.

    Sure enough, it took about 2 weeks of being outside at night for them to get in the habit of roosting. Now they all do it and they're 12 weeks old. They huddle in a clump on their roost and jockey for the same 3-4 feet of space (26 birds, lol) but that seems to be the norm for a lot of people's birds from what I've read [​IMG]

    I'm new to chickens so I surely don't know everything, but the advice given to me by BYC'ers was right on....I would say give it a couple of weeks, maybe block off the nest boxes like someone else mentioned, and let them figure it out on their own. Once they get used to the routine I think their roosting instinct should kick in.

    As for the Wyandottes wanting to sleep in the run- yes, if it were me I'd be putting them in the coop at night as well. Unless your run is just as predator-proof as the coop. But if the coop is the most secure place for them, that's where I'd put them. I don't think they'll forever be reliant on you to "make" them move.

    In my experience most animals learn a routine through consistency & repetition. It's basic behavioral conditioning and chickens should be no exception (I train dogs....there are dog training seminars out there where dog trainers learn to practice behavioral conditioning training by "clicker training" CHICKENS....it's all the same basic theory!!). I would think they will eventually begin "putting themselves to bed" on their own if you are consistent with making them go in the coop at dusk!!
    Good luck!!
     

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