at wits end with pullet not returning to coop at night

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lalaland, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. lalaland

    lalaland Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 26, 2008
    Pine County MN
    I have an extremely skittish pullet hatched in June. The pullet was raised by its broody mom in a brooding coop, which shares a run with the main coop. Main coop is a converted construction trailer which has a people door and a chicken hatch.

    Chicken door has a wooden ramp with treads. People door has a wooden deck/stairs.

    Pullet refuses to enter coop at night by chicken door, and if the people door is closed, pullet goes to pine trees and roosts up higher than high.

    I keep people door closed so pullet has been exiting coop every morning for 4 weeks via the chicken ramp. Her hatchmates have all learned to come back into the coop using the chicken ramp. But her? no way.

    Now that it is getting dark earlier, I often barely get home by dusk, and have spent way too much time standing on a stool with a long pipe, jostling the pine branches til she flies down and hustles into the coop via the people door . I have tried several times to catch her in the coop and bring her back out, forcing her to enter coop through chicken door. THis isn't working, partly because she is in a state of terror when I finally get her, and partly because her panic in the coop while I am trying to get her causes chaos in the flock in the coop.

    Lots of owls here, and she is a light colored pullet so I think she will be an easy dinner if I leave her out at night.

    Any suggestions besides chicken dumplings?
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    Keep the run closed during the day. So she has no option other chicken door to go in to roost in the coop, till she get the idea. I know your punishing the many for the one. If your run isn't covered and she is flying out then clipping the wing may be necessary.
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    And perhaps this is helpful as it was news to me..."clipping" a wing isn't as horrible as it sounds. I haven't done it (haven't needed to), but it's not a permanent marring of the bird. It only involves trimming the long wing feathers (the flying ones) on ONE wing only. This unbalances them when they try to fly and can't get anywhere. After some time, the wing feathers grow out again and you need to re-clip. Hopefully the training of keeping them locked in the run for several days as Den in Penn mentioned will work and you won't need to do this.
  4. lalaland

    lalaland Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 26, 2008
    Pine County MN
    hmmm. The run surrounds the coop, and includes the pines. But I could probably build some temporary fencing to keep them in a smaller portion of the run, limiting their freedom. Hadn't thought of that.

    DIdn't make it home tonight in time to get her out of the pines. I could see her, but it was too dark for her to be willing to fly down. I tried jostling the branch with a pipe, but it is wider than my arm and very sturdy. SHe didn't budge. It is pouring rain and it should turn to snow, an inch predicted by morning. Poor girl, she is going to be very very cold.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That sounds like a good idea!

    Is she low hen?
    Is there plenty of room in the coop and on the roost(s)...I'm thinking crowding and/or bullying might be the issue?
    4 sqft minimum per bird in coop and 1 foot of roost length per bird are pretty good 'rules of thumb'.

    Hope she made it thru the night....miserable weather might change her tune.

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