Chicken scared to go into the coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by undertakingyou, May 1, 2016.

  1. undertakingyou

    undertakingyou Out Of The Brooder

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    Something of an odd experience. My little flock is 21 birds made up of Barred Rock and Buff Orpingtons. They are 7.5 weeks old right now, and I got straight runs, so not fully sure my mix of Roosters and Hens.

    At 6 weeks old we moved the chickens from the brooder to their new coop. The first few nights we locked them in, letting them out at about 8 AM. The fourth and fifth night we had 6 or so out that we had to gather into the coop, the rest had figured out the system. But we have one that continually won't go in.

    We have banded it's leg to watch it easily. It isn't missing any feathers, but does seem picked on in general. We also watched closely as we tried to get it into the coop each night, and noticed that it seems to really not want to go in. It really seems terrified by going into the coop with the other chickens.

    Tonight is the first night I have just let it sleep out where it wants. But is there anything more that I can do for this bird?
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Its possible that the roost space is insufficient for it to feel comfortable. The recommended minimum is 1ft per bird. The greater the space, the more room there is for the less confident birds to roost in safety. Personally, i would still put it in the coop at night, once its dark (or almost) - that way it may get less of a pecking from its flock mates. I'm sure that it will eventually get used to the idea and manage to find its way around being pecked (roosting time seems to be the "best" time for squabbles).

    CT
     
  3. undertakingyou

    undertakingyou Out Of The Brooder

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    After I got your most I went out and immediately put the bird in the coop, despite it being 23:30. I will continue to watch it.

    My coop should have enough space. Without the nesting boxes and roosting bars I have 24 square feet for the 21 birds. Mind you some of these birds won't be with me long (raising a few for a friend and I can't have roosters) I figure when these changes take effect there will be a new figuring out of the pecking order.

    I would love any other thoughts. I would hate to lose a bird.

    Will--
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    The recommended minimum space in the coop is 4sqft per bird. Your coop is woefully inadequate for some many birds and it's likely to be the cause of issues.
     
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  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Agree with CTKen. Further ?'s How much roost space do you have? Are they roosting, or bedding down on the floor? How close to the wall are the roosts? How much ceiling space above the roosts? How tall is the coop on the inside? What are the roosts made of? Any windows? How much ventilation (square inches). Crowded birds are going to be birds that will develop aggressive habits that may only be fixed by putting them in the stew pot. Crowded birds are also going to be very prone to health issues. Assuming that your nest boxes are outside of that 24 s.f., when all is done and said, your coop will be maxed out with 6 birds. Personally, I think you and they'd be happier with 4 in that limited space.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Agrees with CTKen and lazy gardener.
     
  7. undertakingyou

    undertakingyou Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the feedback. Space is as noted. 24 SQ feet, with 4 additional sq feet of nesting boxes. The run is about another 200 SQ FT, and is always open to them. We have on occasion let them out to roam the rest of the yard, but that isn't fenced in so we watch pretty closely as they do that and make sure we are out there with them.

    Currently the birds bed down on the floor of the coop, all huddled up, they have yet to use the roosts. The roost itself is something that I made with sticks that I had from yard work. I saw the idea here somewhere on the forums, but no piece of the stick is larger than 2" diameter. The roost is built as a ladder, and leans up in the coop. The top rung is 1 FT away from the wall, and has 2 or so feet above it before the roof of the coop. The other end is closer to the nesting boxes and sits about 18" from them. It has about 3 FT headspace above it. Overall, interior height of the coop is 5 FT on one side, and 4 FT on the other.

    The coop itself does not have windows, but there are large vents between the walls and roof on two sides. Total is about 396 SQ IN of vent space, which also lets in a lot of light.

    I am happy to learn more about this, as this is my first go with the chickens. When planning my coop size the research I did said that not as large a coop was needed if they had full access to an adequate run. Right now I have a lot of birds, but that number will intentionally reduce. When ordering my birds I got straight runs, and got some more for a friend to add to their flock. I am hoping for about 8 birds in the end. The number of roosters with determine that however.

    Thanks so much for you insights. I am anxious for any others.
     
  8. mimsy

    mimsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's pretty tight in your coop right now. If going by the recommended there really shouldn't be more than 6 birds in the coop.

    If your run is predator safe and they have access to it at all times, this number could go down a little since all they will do in the coop is sleep and lay eggs most likely.

    The numbers can also change, and this is just my opinion, by the birds breeds and/or personalities. My current oldest gals are 4 years old (3, though they started as a group of 6) and since day one would of probably done well with a nest boxed sized coop. they are just real tight with each other, no bad habits, breeds are just real easy going sorts and they have access to my whole back yard during the day. My newest group (4 of them) are much more hyper and grew bored in their brooder quickly and had to be moved to a much larger one by 2 weeks of age and by 4 weeks I had them in a 4 by 8 coop. I gave access to part of the yard immediately at that point during the day. Those guys started picking at each other just before I moved them each time.

    both groups were very different from each other. The newest group gets along with each other great, if given enough room, but without it they would start up bad behavior.

    My guess is that with such a small space you may have some very dominant personalities that are making it difficult for your one who doesn't want to go into the coop. Are they able to easily get on the roosts? You might put some temporary roosts very close to floor for now just get them some space from each other and to encourage roosting. I'd see if your friend can take their chickens right away, again to make room. If not, can you add a temporary coop into the run? Like an old dog house or two, that you just put some perches in? Just make sure your coop is very predator proof if you do that.

    Good luck.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    This can be true....IF...the run is sheltered from the weather(congruent with your climate) and secure against predators.
     
  10. undertakingyou

    undertakingyou Out Of The Brooder

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    Small update here. We have gotten the chickens that were for a friend to my friend.

    We have watched this chicken closely, and it seems that it is in the middle of the pecking order, not the bottom. We have had multiple nights where it has gone right into the coop, and nestled in with all the rest of them. Still not sure why the chicken won't go in, but I don't think it is scared. I also speculate that right now they are young enough, and get along well enough, that they all huddle together at night.

    Each night we are going out and placing it at the bottom of the ramp into the coop. Then gently ushering it in. I am not sure if there is anything else we could do to 'teach' it to go in like the rest of the chickens.

    Again, thanks to all that have replied, and if you have any other insights I would really appreciate it.
     

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