Chickens lay in a big pile in front of the coop door so they all can't get in at night

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by eggsnbacon, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. eggsnbacon

    eggsnbacon Hatching

    Oct 20, 2014
    We are very new to chickens. My husband designed and built a very nice coop, but I'm not sure the chickens agree. We were a little hasty and purchased the chicks before we had the coop done. Needless to say after it taking longer than expected to build, we had the chickens in a pen all together for 2 months. They grew up together and all piled on top of eachother in the pen. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago and we finally got them in their coop. They are free range during the day and then we put them in at night. When they migrate back to the coop, the chickens that are able to make it in pile in front of the door and there are one or two stranglers that can't make it in due to the big pile blocking the door. My husband built a feed box and put it right next to the door which created a little "hallway like" area by the door they come in where they pile up. I have several questions that may or may not have answers but appreciate any advice. Do they pile up due to growing up that way in the pen? If we move the feed box, will they not pile in front of the door? Will they ever roost on the perches we built? Maybe the perches are too high? I apprecaigte any feedback on the coop and behavior of the chickens. Also, when they free range, do we need to put water out for them outside of the coop? Sorry for all the questions, we are very new to this. Thank you so much![​IMG]


  2. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Crowing

    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    It is actually not uncommon for chicks around that age to take awhile to adjust to the coop. My silly chickens gathered in a pile under the coop, and then I had crawl under the coop and pick them up one by one and put them in the coop. I actually placed them on the roost and the good news is that they got the idea after a while and started roosting themselves. A lot of people post with the same question about the chicken pile. If you can place them on the roost at night, that is what I would suggest. The less light they have in the coop when you put them on the roost, the more likely they are to stay there for the night, because they will find it is too dark to move around. That is one of the advantages of chickens not having very good night vision. Depending on what kind of chickens they are, it is hard for me to determine if the perches are too high. My adult game birds would have no problem with that height.

    If they do not go into the coop much during the day, it is good to have water outside, especially in warmer weather.
  3. johanssonmel

    johanssonmel In the Brooder

    Apr 13, 2014
    Wilmington NC
    When mine were smaller (5-8 weeks) they used to do that. Huddle in a big heap half in/half out of the doorway. I did a couple things, and it seemed to work:

    1. Moved the feeder and one of the waterers inside the henhouse. The feeder had been outside, and they just didn't seem to have any incentive to go in there until I put the feeder there.

    2. Made a temporary roost of a 2x4 laid across two upended concrete blocks. My roosts are fairly high--the "poop deck" is about 3 ft off the ground, and they're another 12-18 inches above that. The temporary low roost gave them a place to roost, and later a "stepladder" to get to the higher perches.

    3. Left the light on in the henhouse for about half an hour after dark.

    They got the idea of going in the henhouse within about a week, and in another 3 weeks were roosting up on the higher roosts. They're 16 weeks old now (come on, eggs!) and have been without the "training perch" for about a month.

    It took them a while to spread out on the roosts. The first couple of weeks they were all crammed over to one side.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014
  4. lbwaddle

    lbwaddle In the Brooder

    Oct 22, 2014
    Denton, Texas
    I have the same problem. I have put mine in the coop a couple nights in a row but they still pile up outside the coop. We had several chilly mornings and when I went out they were in the coop and on the roosting bars. Wondering if eventually they will stay up with cooler weather. Also is it better for food and water to be in coop or in the pen? Mine don't free range but have a 10x10x6 pen with coop inside.
  5. johanssonmel

    johanssonmel In the Brooder

    Apr 13, 2014
    Wilmington NC
    I have one waterer outside and one inside. My big plan for next year is to put in a rainwater catchment system to supply them.
  6. 432bullet

    432bullet In the Brooder

    Apr 18, 2013
    Anderson, mo
    Ours free range. They will always come back to where they can get water. So we put our water in the run and in the coop. When it gets dark they are in the coop no problem.
  7. ydkjenn

    ydkjenn In the Brooder

    Dec 27, 2013
    When I first put mine in their coop, I had read to keep them in the coop for about a week and not let them out so they figure out where "home" is and where to roost. My roost is above a workbench, so about 3 1/2 feet up, but they can get on the benchtop first if they wanted.
    It worked. I kept them in the coop and didn't let them free range for several days. There was no problem after that with them going in the coop properly.

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