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Chickens no longer going in coop at night

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RookieFlock, May 19, 2017.

  1. RookieFlock

    RookieFlock Out Of The Brooder

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    Our chickens have taken to roosting on top of their coop at night, and I'm not sure if I need to force them in. Here's the specifics: Our coops are inside of our "run" which is a 25 x 25 foot fenced off garden. It's fenced with 6ft tall steel wire fencing, and fully covered on top with bird netting that's zip tied together to make one big bird netting roof. We also buried hardware cloth 6-10 inches underground along the perimeter (except the door, where we put a 2 foot hardware cloth apron). The hardware cloth extends about 2 feet up on the steel fencing. I'm wondering if that sounds secure?

    Before moving them into this space, they were in a similar set up but with no netting on top, and that's when they got in the habit of roosting on top of rather than in the coop. We have 5 hens, and 5 pullets. Two of the hens still use the coop, while three roost on top. The babies sleep on a roosting pole inside one of the attached coop runs (we have 3 coops total in our space). We also have 2 ducks that switch off between sleeping in and under their coop.

    I guess my biggest fear in this set up is weasels...but I also think they could easily get into the ventilation holes in my coop so I'm in trouble either way. We haven't actually seen any in our area. Only predator we've had issues with to date are foxes. We have raccoons around but they're more interested in our veggie garden. The fox managed to pull one hen out last fall when we had them in just a regular old coop (no buried wire) in mid-day. This Spring another fox came along and nabbed a chicken that had figured out how to fly out of the 6 ft fence (we have since clipped all their wings)
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    The operative word is "habit" in your very thorough description of your coop and run setup. Once chickens develop a habit, they are loathe to give it up without a lot of persuasion.

    If you have the time to be persistent, you might try putting them into the coop when your see them roosting on top of it. You will tire of this exercise long before they will agree to give up their habit, but if you persist, they will eventually decide it's less hassle to go along with the program.

    Your run sounds secure enough, but I would take fifteen minutes and screw some hardware cloth patches over the coop vents. You would be surprised at the number of unlikely predators besides weasels that could take advantage of those entry points.

    To be sure it's not a mite or rodent problem that might be discouraging your chickens from roosting inside, you might want to examine the walls, floors and perches after dark for vermin and then treat accordingly if you find an infestation.
     
    biophiliac likes this.
  3. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    azygous gave you excellent advice. May I add, bird netting isn't fox proof.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    It all depends on your risk tolerance: A coon could easily rip through the netting over the top, and if the run is chicken wire, any predator of any size could easily tear through it. And, as you know, weasels can go through any opening you could push a quarter through. You could put hardware cloth over the ventilation holes in your coop, and then train them to the coop. How big is the coop?
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    An other thought: you might consider some aversion therapy. A bit of water from a hose or a squirt bottle in the evening just might convince them that the roof of the coop is really not a good plan.
     
    azygous likes this.
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    LG has some creative problem solving methods.

    I have three young hens that have been forever trying to get away with roosting on the partitions in the run instead of going into their perfectly cozy and spacious coop at night. I finally solved the problem by stapling plastic deer netting above the partitions to make it impossible for them to perch on them.

    There are different ways to make aversion therapy work. The objective is to make it as unattractive and unpleasant as possible for them to continue to roost there.
     
  7. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One more thing to add to all those excellent points already given, I don't know where you are located but your chickens might not been sleeping in the coop because it is too hot???

    I know you mentioned ventilation holes but are there enough?
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC....where in Michigan are you?

    I don't see where you stated the size of your coop..in feet by feet.
    Maybe I missed it?
    Also how long is the roost?
    Pics of coop inside and out and run would also help a lot.

    You need to figure out why they won't go in the coop at night, there has to be a reason.

    Ditto on the netting not being secure.....and we don't know what kind of metal fencing.
     
    biophiliac and lazy gardener like this.
  9. stephandhens

    stephandhens Just Hatched

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    I have 6 hens and a rooster. I have had them since they were 8 weeks old and since April 2016. We let our birds out to forage at least half of each day.
    One of my hens is missing. I saw her yesterday, and have looked for her all day today. We've found no signs of predation. Could she be brooding somewhere on our 5 acres and not come in the run at the end of the day? None of my hens have ever spent the night outside the run. I'm beginning to worry. Would she roost in a tree?
     
  10. stephandhens

    stephandhens Just Hatched

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    Could she have been runoff by pecking order?
     

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