Chickens sleeping in the danger zone!!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sweetsublime54, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. sweetsublime54

    sweetsublime54 New Egg

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    Jul 2, 2016
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    Hi! I'm new to the forum and to chicken raising :) I have finally moved my 7 week old chicks to their outdoor coop. They seem to only hang out right in front of their 1/2 inch screened door at night!!! I have roosting poles and various heights of tree branches inside for them and they are still all smoothed up against the door. The coop is raised 3 feet high- but I'm afraid a predator is going to grab them through the screens. Any suggestions for helping them roost or at least stop hanging out by the door? Thank you! [​IMG]
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    What you describe sounds almost exactly like my grow-out coop and what happens when I move chicks into it from the brooder, usually at about 5 weeks of age. I have a 4’ x 8’ elevated coop and an 8’ x 12’ run. I used to lock them in the coop section for about a week before I let them into the run but now I don’t bother. I just toss them into the run. If the coop were on the ground I think locking them in it for a week would make a difference but since it is elevated I don’t think it helps that much.

    I think the problem is that it is elevated. I have two other coops on the ground and don’t have this problem with them. Whether they spend a week locked in the elevated coop or not, they never go into the coop to sleep at night to start with. They always huddle in a group, usually right under the door. I go down each night after it is dark enough for them to put themselves to bed and physically lock them in the coop. Sometimes they catch on pretty quickly, just once or twice, a couple of times it’s taken over three weeks of doing this, but eventually they all learn to go into the coop to sleep. I usually have groups of between 15 and 20 chicks. Normal is after two or three night a few start going in on their own and about a week later they all do, but not all groups are normal.

    I lined the run wiring with ¼” hardware cloth in the area they like to sleep as added protection against a raccoon or such getting to them before I get down there to put them in the coop.

    My brooder-raised chicks normally don’t start roosting until they are about 10 to 12 weeks old. Until then they normally sleep in a group in a corner or protected place. I have had some start at 5 weeks, some wait a lot longer than 12 weeks, but 10 to 12 is a good average. My last group of fifteen chicks started roosting at nine weeks.

    How light is it in the coop? It doesn’t take much but they need to be able to see well enough to go to bed. My “window” for light is hardware cloth over vents up high, it works. Some people report it’s easier if they put a light inside the coop at bedtime so they can see better. I’ve never had to resort to that.

    What you describe sounds perfectly normal to me. Other than just letting them go and taking the risk, which I don’t recommend, the only way I see is to go down after dark and lock them inside. Some people train the chicks to come to food and lure them in the coop before dark so they can lock them in there but I’ve never tried that. Not sure how that would work in your situation, but having them trained to come to you when you call or rattle a special “treats” container can be a good thing in other circumstances.

    Welcome to the forum! Glad you joined.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Approach I use to get brooder reared birds to roost up is to make so they have a box in the brooder all can fit when they are ready to come out. When a given brood is moved to coop / pen the box is moved with them and placed on floor in new container. The move is done at night with chicks inside box. The box need to have opening on side. The following morning they are allowed to slowly come out box. Since they know the box they typically retreat to it the following evening at roosting time. After a couple nights of this I begin moving the box a little each night towards the perches provided for use as a roost. In my setting the box is moved up on milk crates. The young birds keep following the box. At some point, usually within 3 or 4 days the young birds are roosting in box that is located on perches I want them to use. Then I completely remove the box. Chicks then end up in last place they saw box at time they go to roost as that is where they are looking for it.
     
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  4. miss_ellie

    miss_ellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Glad to find this information. My coop is similar to the one shown in the attached picture. I have two runs attached to it on the side opposite the nesting box. I brought my chicks out of the broader yesterday and there was no way they were going to go into the roosting area at night. (Is this what is called roosting up?) I even tried putting them in the roosting area, but down the ramp they came. My coop sits on the ground so I didn't want to leave them there in a huddled mass. Back to the broader they went. Sane story today. After reading posts about this it looks like they won't go up the ramp to roost for several more weeks. Am I understanding that correctly? Thanks in advance for any help on this![​IMG]
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Your coop section (the enclosed area) is elevated, otherwise you would not need a ramp.

    How old are your chicks?

    Can you lock them in the coop section at night so they cannot go back down the ramp? If you do that every night they will learn to go to bed in there. They might learn quickly, it might take two or even three weeks, but they will learn.
     
  6. miss_ellie

    miss_ellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your reply. My chicks are 7 weeks old. I could possibly attach something to the opening of the roost by the ramp that would keep them in there. How long will they sound so pathetic? Their cheeps change just when I close off the majority of the run. When I did place them in the roosting area they seemed to be panicking before they came back down. Is that normal?
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, that is normal. Chickens don’t like change or new situations. But they are pretty adaptable. Each group is so different I hate to put times on it. The first time they might go for 15 minutes, second time less. Before long, none.

    Just put them in and walk away, they will be OK. That distressed peep is really pathetic, it gets to you. But they really will be OK.
     
  8. miss_ellie

    miss_ellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your help and advice!
     
  9. miss_ellie

    miss_ellie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One other question. Should whatever I attach to the roost to keep them in and unable to get out be solid or something they can see through?
     
  10. MantyMimi12

    MantyMimi12 New Egg

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    Aug 31, 2015
    Manitowoc WI
    Last night the girls spent it in the coop! Took awhile to get them up the ramp, but up they went. And the settled down pretty quickly, too. This morning I had to bribe/help them down. If I didn't have to go to work I would have waited longer to see if they would come out by themselves. First night in!
     

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