Can shorter days confuse chickens? They are not going in the coop now

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by shine389, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. shine389

    shine389 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi Chicken lovers:

    My hens are about 7 months and they have lived in their coop/run for about 3 months now. They roost every night, same chicken (4 of them) on the same spot on the roost. I have a pullet shut door, so it automatically opens and closes.

    As the days have gotten shorter, the chickens all but one, have stopped going inside the coop. So the last 3 nights I have gone and put them in. I have lighted the coop so they will go into the lighted area, but they still refuse. And tonight all 4 of them are roosting outside in the run again. Is it possible the changing in day length has messed up their schedule? My coop and run is well protected, so they are staying out there tonight. They are making a mockery out of my automatic door. LOL. Anyway, I life in Pittsburgh and it's soon to be getting cold. How do I get them to go in again? And what could have caused it.

    ty.
     
  2. Rod-T

    Rod-T Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe take away roost in there yard.. only have roost inside.. I assume you have a roost inside right?
     
  3. shine389

    shine389 Out Of The Brooder

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    I do have a roost inside. I will give it a try and remove the roost. Do you know if this is common behavior?
     
  4. Rod-T

    Rod-T Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens have there favorite spot. .so once they start with outside roosting.. only way to break it would be to remove it.. could it be the light inside they don't like? Maybe put on timer to come on early morning hours
     
  5. shine389

    shine389 Out Of The Brooder

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    I only used the light to draw them into the coop. Their fave spot for months was on the inside roost. I will take the outside one down if tha will stip it.
     
  6. Rod-T

    Rod-T Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That might be part of the problem. .the want a dark place to roost.
    However they need 14 hrs of light to keep laying. . So if your only getting 10 hrs of daylight. .you need 4 hrs of light in coop to get the 14.. most people add the extra hours in the morning. .waking them early
     
  7. shine389

    shine389 Out Of The Brooder

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    As the days got shorter, they were not going into the coop as "dusk" like they have since I got them. Sorry for the confusion. I just added the light 3 days ago to draw them inside. Im not adding light for them to continue to lay eggs. So, it can't be the light in the coop that caused it.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Is there some reason they might be spooked about going in the coop?
    Any changes made just before this behavior started?
    Any pests like mites maybe present?
    Did they maybe get nipped by the autodoor and now they are afraid of it...or are they settling onto the run roost way before door closes?
    Is the autodoor operate by light sensor or timer? Daylight savings time change maybe screw it up?

    Definitely remove roost in run and see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Their birdbrains are not wired for logic quite like ours. Sometimes it is really hard to figure out what causes their behavior.

    The way I understand it they were all roosting inside, then about the time we switched back to standard time one or two started roosting outside while one or two roosted inside. Over time they all moved outside to roost. The light was installed after some started roosting outside to try to draw them back inside. So putting the light in there is not the cause.

    Aart has asked some really good questions. They are creatures of habit so something happened to cause them to move outside. The time switch seems suspicious but they do not wear watches or understand how to read a calendar. If that had anything to do with it, it was because you did something different or something else changed, maybe a security light on a timer? The days getting shorter would not cause that kind of change, they go to bed by the sun, not a watch. So did you do anything different according to the sun, like feeding then treats in the run too close to bedtime?

    How much roost space do they have inside? Are they crowded? That could have something to do with it.

    Sort of in line with the crowded roost question, my chickens are most brutal toward each other as they are settling down on the roosts getting ready for bed. Where they sleep depends on the pecking order and where the top ranking chicken wants to sleep. They can be pretty mean moving others out of their way.

    Sometimes one chicken will go out of their way to beat up others lower in the pecking order, actually moving from their standard roosting place to go beat up others. I’ve seen this happen regularly when I’m integrating younger chicks. The ones getting beat up look for a safer place to roost. This behavior normally does not happen when the pecking order is settled and if they are all the same age, but even with my adults the ones higher in the pecking order sleep on one end of the roosts near the window while the lower ranking ones are at a the far end. By seven months yours should have all this worked out, but maybe one is late maturing and the pecking order is shaken up a bit as they resort. With the roost outside maybe they have enough room to sleep together without being too close.

    I’d suggest checking your coop for roost mites. These only come out at night, hiding in the coop during the day so check after dark. They will run from the light so do it in the dark with a flashlight and look in the vent area. You can see them running away from the light.

    It’s possible something frightened them inside the coop. It may have been some critter, maybe some change you made, or about anything. They frighten pretty easily.

    So what can you do other than take down that roost in the run? If you have room you can try adding a bit more roost space, but that’s probably not the problem at that age in spite of all I wrote above. Check for mites. After dark, toss them inside the coop and lock them in there until they start going to bed on their own. They can be retrained.

    Good luck with it.
     
  10. Sonya9

    Sonya9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Others have made excellent points.

    Also is the outside roost higher than the inside roost? They like to be high up so that could affect their choice.

    I have a couple of outside roosts in a covered area and they are nice for the birds especially when it is raining all day, they end up spending most of the day roosting there (which are lower than the night time roosts).
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015

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