1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Chickens aren't transferring from coop to tractor and back well anymore

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by raecarrow, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. raecarrow

    raecarrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    75
    12
    51
    Jan 4, 2017
    Braxton County, WV
    Do you ever have one of those days where your chickens just exasperate you and you just want to be done with having chickens? Today is one of those days for me. We have 15 hens. 9 Leghorn crosses, 3 Doms, 2 Dom/Buff, and 1 Dom/RIR. Most of our hens, particularly the leghorn crosses, are terrified of people and act like we are going to eat them as soon as look at them. This morning, it took forever to get all the hens from their coop into their tractor (the 4 that are usually bad were the problem) and this evening only 3 went into the coop willingly. The rest are still on the loose. They transfer best at dusk, but I was trying to move them early because it was getting dark and gloomy and there was a let up in the rain. Also, on Saturday, we slaughtered the rooster we were keeping with the laying flock because he has been getting more vicious in attacking people. At first, it seemed that eliminating the rooster helped the hens co-exist better, but now there seems to be less flock cohesion when it comes to moving them between the tractor and the coop. We also started switching from a pellet feed to a whole grain feed in the past week. We want to build a coop that is attached to the tractor, so we don't have to worry about transferring them, but we haven't gotten around to it. I think it is our only option if we want to keep these birds around until our Buff Orpington chicks get to laying age (they should be arriving the week of 1/30 according to Murray McMurray. I don't know if that means this week, or next. Should I try moving a one of our 3 leghorn roosters (who are marked for the stock pot) in with them? I'm not sure if this is a good idea because these roosters are very afraid of people and I'm not sure if they will help with the flocking aspect. I'm beginning to think we need to keep them confined in their coop until we can get a movable coop attached to their run. Do any of you have any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Rae
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  2. Mcatgirl

    Mcatgirl Out Of The Brooder

    80
    12
    38
    Dec 16, 2016
    Ohio
    Well when you take away the rooster the girls are going to start their pecking order to decide who's top hen.

    My girls all go into their coop all on their own. my girls free range, when the sun starts to go down they go right in their coop. When we first built the coop we made them stay in a month so they knew that's where they sleep.

    My chickens are shy too. But I've noticed the longer I have them the more they warm up to me.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,885
    333
    236
    Jun 23, 2013
    Hilo, HI
    2x

    I "train" my chickens from when they're chicks, the sound of Freeze Dried Mealworms in a plastic container & I make a clicking sound. Never had a problem leading them from the coop to the run, as for returning to the coop, they return themselves. Again training with FDM, I'd "call" them a certain time and sprinkle some on the ground. Got to the point they return themselves & I'd go lock them up, give them some FDM.

    Freeze Dried Mealworms has been a GREAT training tool for me.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. raecarrow

    raecarrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    75
    12
    51
    Jan 4, 2017
    Braxton County, WV
    We can't allow our hens to free range because we have a HUGE coyote and dog problem. A neighbor who free ranged his chickens and shut them in at night lost all his birds this year. These birds are also very bad at staying in open topped enclosures. We've tried having them in a large area surrounded by a 4ft fence. Granted this fence wasn't hot (electrified), but I routinely see our leghorn crosses fly 6ft or more in the air for distances of 30 ft so I don't think an electric fence would work. I had them trained to the sound of me shaking their pellet feed in a container, but they aren't responding to that any longer. I'm thinking I just need to work harder on familiarizing this next batch of birds with people. Hopefully having the more friendly, less flighty Buff Orpingtons will help in that regard.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,174
    2,130
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Is there any way you can build an attached run to your coop? This is what I have:

    [​IMG]

    The wire on top keeps them in and varmints out.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. raecarrow

    raecarrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    75
    12
    51
    Jan 4, 2017
    Braxton County, WV
    I want them in a movable run so they can forage a bit. the goal is to turn the current coop into a brooding house and have mobile coops/runs for the adults.
     
  7. Mcatgirl

    Mcatgirl Out Of The Brooder

    80
    12
    38
    Dec 16, 2016
    Ohio
    I understand those issues. My yard has 8ft fence all the way around it girls don't get out. There's one section that's 4ft they jumped out once, and my husband chased them Bk in. They've never jumped out again.

    I used Meal worms FDM for training my girls too. They love them. Just put them in a plastic cup shake it and yell come on girls. They follow me like puppy dogs. I've also used corn on the cob to train the during the winter. Summer I'd use watermelon they go crazy for both.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,649
    5,405
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    So you're only having trouble getting them from tractor to coop in the evening?
    No trouble getting them to the tractor in the mornings?

    Could be you just tried earlier than usual, too early....and the absence of the rooster probably doesn't help.
    They really don't operate on our timetable....haha!

    A hen may take over to keep the flock together like the roo did...but who knows if and when.

    Gonna be hard to make a portable coop big enough for 15 hens...unless you have a vehicle to move it with.
    Would you post a pic of the tractor with the birds in it?
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  9. raecarrow

    raecarrow Chillin' With My Peeps

    75
    12
    51
    Jan 4, 2017
    Braxton County, WV
    I had trouble moving them from the coop to the tractor yesterday morning. I think it was because it was earlier than usual and it was raining. This morning, they flocked to the tractor like they had been charmed into doing it. It was a bit later than usual and I think they were eager for breakfast.

    I'm thinking about moving one of the Roosters in with the hens tonight after dark.

    As far as a portable coop, I was planning something like Justin Rhodes' chickshaw for their mobile coop. It would be hard for me to get a picture of the hens in their tractor. I live in a mountain hollow with no cell reception, my phone is my only camera, and I don't use wifi because I have satellite internet and wifi eats my data allotment like candy. I can only post pictures when I go off property (usually on weekends), or at the end of my service month. Here is a picture of the plans I generally followed:
    [​IMG]

    The tractor is 10' L x 8" W x 2" H. so it covers 80 sqft of grass a day for 15 birds. We move it every night. I made it 8ft wide because I had 4ft wide wire to use for the top. half the top is tarp covered and it drapes down one side for a wind block. They also like to perch under the arch of the tarp on one of the cross bars of the top. I'll see about posting some pictures tonight.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,649
    5,405
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yeah, they are fickle, those chickens....haha!
    It's why you have to adjust your timing to match their instincts...wait until they are hungry and they'll stream to tractor where they get fed.
    Could limit their feed in tractor to run out well before roost time to use the same technique to get them back to coop.
    Food is the ultimate chicken 'herding' tool.

    80sqft is kinda(way) small for 15 birds to 'range' in.

    My girl lives in the mountains too....takes phone pics then waits til she goes into town to upload/send for 'free'.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by