Chicken won't jump from any height

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by WoodenCoyote, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. WoodenCoyote

    WoodenCoyote Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2014
    Sir Ceredigion, Cymru
    Having an odd problem with Clorida. The last month or so, she has been really funny about jumping down from the perch. Her sisters go leaping off and run straight into the yard for breakfast, leaving her pacing back and forth sometimes for up to half an hour until she either finally jumps down or one of us puts her on the ground ourselves. During this period, Clorida is usually screaming at the top of her voice - she can't be separated from the others without becoming incredibly anxious.
    I haven't noticed anything wrong with her legs that would indicate pain - once on the ground she runs and scratches just fine. And clearly she can jump up onto the perch. In fact, she still jumps up onto heights even higher than the perch (15 inches) like the run door or my bike. She then gets stuck and refuses to jump down again.

    [​IMG]


    We have new neighbors, so I'd like to reduce the morning scream sessions. I'm going to build a little ramp or lower perch to see if that helps.

    Any idea what could be causing this behavior? My wife's suggestion was "There are only stupid chickens and stupider chickens"
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Up is much easier for birds than down. Going down requires a certain control of flight to avoid collisions with walls, objects, etc en route to the ground - one bad trip can lead a bird to become overly cautious out of concern of a repeat performance. Additionally, in going down vs. up there is the matter of impact with the ground which can be quite hard on the birds feet, joints, etc - this often becomes an issue as a bird grows and matures becoming heavier and less inclined to just hop down like they might have when younger or smaller/lighter. Photos of the interior of your coop may help us see things from your bird's perspective and offer some insight.
     
  3. WoodenCoyote

    WoodenCoyote Out Of The Brooder

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    Sir Ceredigion, Cymru
    I had to fill the coop bottom with sand because they wouldn't stop carrying hay and straw out and dumping it in the yard. Do you think it's not cushioning the impact of her jump?
     
  4. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sand can be beastly hard. We have sand in our coop. Every couple of days I rake through it to break it up. Is your coop big enough to put a mini-ramp from the roost to the floor?
     
  5. WoodenCoyote

    WoodenCoyote Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2014
    Sir Ceredigion, Cymru
    I might have to change the orientation of the perch. It runs along the length of the coop, so I might put two short perches across the width instead, at different heights.

    I wish I didn't have to use sand, but it's the only thing they can't turf out. Tried hay, wood chip, sawdust, shredded newspaper... put up a lip around the pophole, which didn't make any difference.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    When I see that a hen is having anxieties over jumping off the roosting perch in the morning, I try to encourage them down just so I can see what the problem might be that's causing the reluctance to dismount.

    I have a Sussex named Judy. She's heavy and was always the last to come out in the morning. I enticed her to jump off and saw that she didn't land solidly, but went skating on the poop board instead. It was easy to see that she found it upsetting so she would put off jumping down as long as possible.

    Usually, lowering the perch in a case like this will solve the problem, but Judy was already on a perch ten inches off the floor. So, she now waits for me to lift her down, and I'm in no way put out doing it as long as she's willing to wait around for me.

    My other coop is like yours - long and narrow with a long perch running the length. There's nothing I can do to moderate the perch, and so, again, the girls who have a problem jumping down just wait for me to lift them down. But others have learned to angle their dismount so they have more room for the landing.

    Do try to observe them in the morning getting down so you can see just what problems they may be having, then take it from there.
     
  7. WoodenCoyote

    WoodenCoyote Out Of The Brooder

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    Sir Ceredigion, Cymru
    I watched them through the window this morning, and it looks like where the other three just hop down, Clorida leaps with a lot of flapping and bangs into the side of the coop.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  9. WoodenCoyote

    WoodenCoyote Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 18, 2014
    Sir Ceredigion, Cymru
    So I seem to have figured out the problem.

    The sand was getting too compacted down, as WNCcluck suggested. Clorida must have been leaping and flapping to avoid landing in the sand, aiming for the lip around the pophole. This is why she was crashing into the wall as well.

    I increased the height of the lip and then tripled the amount of sand (and boy was that a haul getting home!). The bedding is now deep enough that it gets churned up all day just by the hens coming and going, and I give it a good rake through every few days. Since then, we've had no more morning screaming. She jumps straight down without a fuss along with the rest [​IMG]
     
  10. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Great update - good job on finding and fixing the problem, Clorida surely appreciates it.
     

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