Chickens not going in their coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Millerhomemaker, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. Millerhomemaker

    Millerhomemaker Hatching

    Jan 19, 2017
    I am new to BYC.. I currently have 4 chickens 2 barred rocks and 2 astolorps all pullets (12 weeks old). I built a 32X41 coop that is 3 feet tall and 30 inches off the ground. The chicks will come out and go in on their own sometimes. Their coop and run provides them with around 20 sqft of space. Every night I have to put them in the coop. I am super perplexed. If I don't put them in they with huddle together in their sand box.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    David Miller
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017

  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    They are young birds and won't know how to roost until you show them where and how. Do you have roosts in your coop?

    On a side note: The measurements you describe will not be big enough to house those chickens when they are full grown and is barely big enough for their living now, so you may consider constructing something more suitable to the size and life of the animal you are trying to house.
  3. Millerhomemaker

    Millerhomemaker Hatching

    Jan 19, 2017
    There are roosts inside that I made from a maple tree we had to cut down. I have seen them on the roost a few times. Not often, they seem to like the nesting box and sleep in it. I have the built the coop with the ability to expand it. How much bigger do you think it needs to be. I let them free range 3-5 hours everyday. The area i described is what I have covered with hardware cloth.
    thanks for your advise
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Most recommend 4 sq. ft of floor space per bird for living comfort, particularly when weather keeps them indoors for very long. I'd close off your nest boxes until you need them and keep putting them on the roosts each night until they get the hang of it. You'll be glad you did when eggs arrive, as sleeping in the nest boxes makes for poopy eggs.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I agree with Bee about the space, they will need more.

    I think part of your problem is that you have an elevated coop. I have various coops I keep chickens in. The one I call my grow-out coop is the only one off the ground. I often put chicks in it straight out of the brooder, usually starting at five weeks old. The behavior you describe is absolutely typical for that coop, but not for the ones on the ground.

    My brooder-raised chicks typically do not start roosting until they are 10 to 12 weeks old when no adults are present. If adults are present it gets all messed up but you don’t have adults so it doesn’t matter. I have had brooder-raised chicks start roosting as early as about 5 weeks, some well later than 12 weeks, but 10 to 12 is a good average. Yours should be about ready.

    Until they start to roost my chicks like to sleep in a group in a low spot. With an elevated coop the low spot is not in the coop but on the ground. Even if I keep the chicks locked in that elevated coop for a week or more the first time I let them into their run, the first night they try to sleep on the ground under the door. This is one of the few times my chickens are consistent in any behavior, the chicks always want to sleep on the ground under that door the first night.

    After dark I put mine in their coop and lock the door. If it gets dark it’s really easy to just pick them up and put them inside. If you have a lot of light down there so they can see it may get a little more challenging. Security lights, street lights, even bright moonlight can help them see. But whatever it takes, lock them in their coop.

    I don’t put mine on the roosts but mine are a lot younger. At 12 weeks it could be a reasonable idea.

    Sometimes the chicks catch on immediately, they start going in on their own the second night. Sometimes it takes three weeks of doing this every night for them to get the message. I normally have around 20 in a brood. What’s typical is that a few catch on after a couple of days and after about a week the last one is going in on their own, but I have had some really stubborn ones that take three weeks.
  6. Millerhomemaker

    Millerhomemaker Hatching

    Jan 19, 2017
    thank you both for the insight, I have been doing as you described and putting them in the coop after dark. I have seen them roost on occasion on their own, I am going to try to add an additional 2' to the coop in length witch would make the coop 3 feet by 5'6". I believe that this is just shy of the desired space per bird, however this is the best I can do for my situation.

    1 more quick question, I have been told that I only need 1 nesting box per 4 hens. Do you feel that this is correct or should I build another.

    thanks again,
    David Miller
  7. Cosmic

    Cosmic In the Brooder

    Dec 24, 2016
    At around 12 weeks old I put my birds outside in an elevated coop with a ramp that they could climb up, as long as there was a light on in the coop at sundown all the birds went in the coop to roost and I could turn the light off just after it got fully dark outside. If the light was ever off as the sun went down I would find them all huddled together under the coop.
    As for the nesting box, I have 9 hens and 2 nesting boxes but they all mostly use the same one. I rarely find an egg in the second box.

  8. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    I use a nightlight in the raised coop[​IMG] so they can see to jump onto the roost and eat and drink before roosting. I turn it off when I lock up the coop, because of a bully, usually a half hour after sunset, sometimes later if I'm not home.
    I have 2 nest boxes and 5 pullets and have seen a pullet waiting for a nest to lay on several occasions.[​IMG] My sex-links lay between 5am and 9am most days. GC
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
  9. Millerhomemaker

    Millerhomemaker Hatching

    Jan 19, 2017
    thank you all for your insight, since my first post the ladies recieved a remodel on their coop the new coop is 6' by 3' with 2 additional roosts. the chickens are now going in on their own every night.
    thanks again.

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