Camping Out in the Run

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lymanmomof3, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. lymanmomof3

    lymanmomof3 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 24, 2012
    Southern Maine
    Hello,

    I have a Garden Coop (www.thegardencoop.com) chicken coop for my 4 hens. This will be their first winter; we live in Maine. The coop is a little bit in the woods but we have a huge field so on the field side of the coop run I put a 6 x 8 green tarp on 2 1/2 sides of it. (Basically the back, one side and half of the front side). I also have 2 hay bales on the inside of the coop on the field side.

    Now with the time change, it's dark before I get home from work. It's also 22 degrees or less. For the past few nights since the time change (and since the tarp) I've come home to find 1 or 2 on the roosting bar in the coop run and the other 2 or 3 on the roosting bar in the hen house.

    Even though I have 19 gauge stainless wire cloth buried about a foot and a half down and 12x12 pavers all around the perimeter, I still like locking the hens in the house at night for added protection. Especially now that it's getting cold.

    Let me tell you though, they don't like to be moved and it's really hard to place them on the hen house roosting bar when the others have already gotten comfie and fallen asleep. Lots of flapping and squawking ensues.

    I'm just worried about the ones left out in the run getting cold. What is your opinion on whether or not I should move them? I hate to leave the hen house door open all night, it has 2 inches of insulation and I like to think it's somewhat warmer in there but don't want to leave the 1 or 2 others isolated in the run all night. (My Easter Egger doesn't have the brawn that her sisters do to keep her warm and usually ends up under the wing of the Brahma hen.) It's usually the Orpington and Australorp that camp out in the run. Last night it was just the Orp. She was all scrunched down on the top bar out like a light and I moved her...then after the trauma thought maybe I shouldn't have...

    Thanks!!

    Kerri
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,418
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    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    If you don't want them in the run at night keep moving them. Sure they may protest, but maybe that will help them get it in their minds that if they try to sleep outside they will be disturbed and decide to go in.
     
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Maybe try putting a little night light in the coop to help entice them in as it gets dark? If the coop is very closed in, no windows etc. they may not like going into a small, dark box. And maybe a boss hen is bullying the others off the roost, who knows. I looked at the coop/run in your link, if the entire thing, including run, is 10'x 6' then the house itself is very small.
     
  4. lymanmomof3

    lymanmomof3 Out Of The Brooder

    57
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    33
    May 24, 2012
    Southern Maine
    The house is 3x3x3 with an external nesting box making it suitable for 10 chickens (according to the plans) and only 4 live in there but I have often thought there is no way more than my 4 fat-bottomed ladies could fit in there! Especially in the morning when they are up and about. I was thinking that maybe the tarp around the outside gave it more of a hen house feeling so they don't feel like they are in an outside run anymore. Like a bedroom addition.

    I like the night light idea. I don't have electricity out there so I'll have to find a solar one. It's quite possible they are getting stuck...it gets dark FAST.
     
  5. lymanmomof3

    lymanmomof3 Out Of The Brooder

    57
    2
    33
    May 24, 2012
    Southern Maine
    I have yet to see them learn a lesson, LOL. I feel better knowing they are 100% safe. Their hen house is bear proof. I just wasn't sure if I was messing with their natural instincts or patterns.
     

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