Chickens refusing to go into coop??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by susancoyotesfan, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. susancoyotesfan

    susancoyotesfan Out Of The Brooder

    May 25, 2008
    Mayer Arizona
    Hi, I have a question for all you experts. My girls are about a year and a half, and until last night I had never had a problem with them going into the coop at night.

    Last night, they simply refused to go in; at 1030 pm they were still hanging out huddled together in a corner of the yard, and I had to pick them up and put them into the cage area that is attached to the coop. When I got up this morning, they were still out in the caged area, there were three eggs on the ground (I have four) and they were absolutely terrified when I tried to coax them into the coop.

    The bottom of the coop is hardware cloth with plywood over that; I checked out the coop last night trying to see if anything had chewed through and I couldn't see anything and later today I will clean it out thoroughly to see better.

    DH thinks there may be a snake living in it, I thought they would have eaten it if there was.

    Any ideas?? Admittedly I live in Arizona, but it's getting into the low 40's and upper 30's at night, and I don't want them to freeze or be eaten by the animals that prowl the neighborhood.
  2. chicknjane

    chicknjane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 2, 2009
    Pine Grove, PA
    I think DH needs to go out to the coop and confirms his suspicions. I'll be hiding by my computer with my feet tucked under me waiting to the all clear.

    I can't think of any other reason they wouldn't go into the coop. Especially at night in the dark. My chickens are such fraidy cats when it comes to being in the dark. [​IMG]
  3. Fuffy

    Fuffy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 3, 2009
    Jersey, GB
    I'll be with chicknjane!

    Don't have anything to add except Good Luck and Keep Us Posted!!!

    Hope all is ok tonight!!! LOL
  4. chickenmeadow

    chickenmeadow Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 14, 2009
    Southern Oregon
    My Coop
    Sorry to hear of your dilemma. I had the same problem this year with the last 4 youngest ones born in July (2 roos & 2 pullets); they had not bonded with the older one yet to follow their lead. My fear was that they would always "dork out" & stand in the cold rain or snow waiting for me to put them away. So, every evening I would go out & pick them up one by one (& sometimes 2) to start them up the ladder while holding on to them gently. I would plop their feet on the bottom of the ladder & then letting their feet do the walking, walk them all the way up the ladder & let them take the last step into the coop with a little encouragement. We have good success with dog training using patience & persistence, so why not chicken training. Then, I began to put the most dominant one in first; they would show a little panic or concern about standing out there alone. Well, it took over a month; but, now they all go in together, are locked in at night for safety & let out in the morning after their coop light comes on. My coop has a lighting (40 wt Reveal bulbs inside top level of coop with 1 feeder & 1 water, & 100 wt in the lower level with all of the feed & outside exposure) on a timer from Sept. to April at 14 hours (6am to 8pm). We are tree shaded here on northern exposure mountain side; the lighting is working out well. The lighting is not part of the issue, only a choice as natural outdoor lighting triggers them to go to bed (just mentioned the lighting for xtra information only). Be patient & persistant, it's worth the effort.
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree you have something worrisome in the coop- rat, snake, weasel...check carefully, heavy gloves, goggles, boots, cover your skin, possibly bring a 0.22, etc.

    Poor chooks sound sure to check above, too.
  6. chickenmeadow

    chickenmeadow Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 14, 2009
    Southern Oregon
    My Coop
    Oops! Just realized that you mentioned that the problem started recently. So, my earlier comments don't even apply. Silly me, I was tired when reading it. Good luck with finding out what has frightened them.
  7. rocmoc

    rocmoc Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    put a light on a timer for a couple of nights that goes off just after when you would normally close the coop. then you can try without and they should be back to their normal routine. had the same thing happen and this worked for me.

    rocmoc n AZ
  8. chickenmeadow

    chickenmeadow Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 14, 2009
    Southern Oregon
    My Coop
    Oh my! Just when I thought there would be no more surprises! Last night when I went out to lock the coop doors for the evening, there they all were, lingering outside in their yard. So, I pondered on it & blamed it on the pesky squirrels or one of the many mountain predators we have on our property lerking around. Something must have spooked them & they weren't about to get out of the open yard area & let themselves get trapped inside the coop by going to bed. My coop & chicken yard has 14 hr. lighting (both on a timer from Sept. to April, from 6:00am to 8:00pm). When I turned off the lower yard light & left the upper coop light on, they chose to go in & settle down for the night like nothing had happened.

    We used to have several goats & a large barn with fenced yard. When they were spooked they would never go inside the barn for safety; we would see them quietly standing around in a strange way (just like my chickens did last night), looking like they were quietly on alert. They wouldn't go inside until they were at ease.

    The "guiding light" into the coop was the "ticket."
  9. andbab

    andbab Chillin' With My Peeps

    When I cleaned out the coop my chickens refused to go back in. They finally wandered in at dark but spent the whole day outside there was no way I could force them to go in.
  10. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    LOL!! Well good! I'm glad it was just the lighting. You had me a little spooked w/your description of their behavior. girls rely on a light to lead them into the coop too...

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