Chickens don't leave coop all day

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MereBear, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. MereBear

    MereBear In the Brooder

    Feb 10, 2013
    Rochester, NY
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a little concerned about our chicken behavior and wondering if anyone has any idea what's going on. Our chickens are a year and half old and have been living in the same coop and attached run since they were babies. They've always spent all their time in the run, even sitting out there when it's snowing out. Their coop has a door into the run that's always open, so they can go back and forth as they please. This past week they have been in the coop all day every day. I open the door and they're all just standing there on the floor, doing nothing. I've been letting them out to free range in our fenced yard every day since they were babies, and for the past week when I open the door, only a few of them come out and the rest stay in the coop. The ones that do come out don't venture away from the patio.

    I did find lice on a few of our birds last week and treated them with DE, as well as putting a new bin in their coop with sand and DE for dusting whenever they like. Could this be causing this change in behavior? I can't imagine why it would matter, but it's the only thing that has changed in the last week. I can't imagine what's going on. My only other thought is that maybe there's a predator hanging around outside the run that has them spooked. Does anyone have any clue what could be causing this? It's no emergency, I just think any significant change in their behavior must have a reason. Thanks in advance for any responses.

  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I don't believe that DE will kill the lice. And if you've actually seen lice, you have quite an infestation. You'll most likely need to strip down your coop, clean every thing out, wash it, then replace the bedding. The recommendation is to burn the bedding. I'd also advise that you use a powdered procuct to dust the coop after it's cleaned out. At the same time, you'll need to treat each bird to rid them of lice. You should treat birds and clean coop twice, a week to 10 days apart to kill any newly hatched lice. There are plenty of products on the market. Do a topic search for more info. They may be staying inside b/c the lice are sapping their strength. An untreated infestation will eventually kill them. There could also be a predator issue. My understanding is that hawks are migratory, and hawk predation increases in the spring and in the fall. Chickens are very aware of flying predators and seek cover when they are around.
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    DE is a preventative, not a treatment for lice. You need to get some poultry dust (or Sevin Garden dust). Clean out the coop well, sprinkle the sevin on the floor of the coop before putting new bedding down. Do the same in the nest boxes. Dust each bird, especially the vent and under the wings and use your fingers to work it through the feathers. You will need to dust them again in 10 days when the next eggs hatch. If it's a severe infestation, keep dusting every 10 days until you see no more lice.

    A predator could certainly spook them into staying in their coop. Also, if they are in the nest box, they could be broody.

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