Chickens want to sleep on top of coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by shaner, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. shaner

    shaner New Egg

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    Jan 23, 2010
    Anywhere from 1 to 8 of my nine birds like to spend the night ON TOP of my coop. So every night one of us has to go out, take the birds off the roof and put them inside, so we can safely lock them in. Is my 4-foot tall coop too short? This is getting to be a problem and I wish we didnt have to do this for the rest of our lives. Only time they are all inside is if it is like 5 degrees out. In the summer, they might be all inside about twice a month. Thanks for your suggestions. From Michigan.
     
  2. Bat Cave Silkies

    Bat Cave Silkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 11, 2010
    Bat Cave, NC
    It's a chickens nature to sleep/roost at the highest elevation possible, so that predators can't easily get them (except for Silkies...lol). My suggestion is to train them, and that's not going to be an easy task for you, because it involves building. If you want to train them to roost in their coop at night, you'll need to build a covered run attached to the coop. Keep them locked in the run for at least a week; they'll go in the coop to roost at night. Once you've broken them of the habit of getting on top of their coop, you can once again allow them to free range outside of their run during the day. You may need to "remind" them where they're suppose to sleep, by keeping them locked in their run once a month or so.
    Good luck
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Mine free range and go in the coop on their own every night. But my coop is tall enough I doubt most of them could even get on top of it. Have you considered simply raising the coop with something like four 4x4's? Maybe you have scraps you could knock together something like a table? Depending how large and heavy it is, of course. But I suspect your solution will be in somehow raising the height of the roof, if they are free range, or as the other poster said, building a run. If they are free range they will NOT like being confined to a run, though. I have about a 60'x80' fenced yard I sometimes close them in, and they don't even like that, they like their free ranging.
     
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I have given up on one particular group of four chickens who roost on top of "their" coop. It started with the rooster in that group, then the girls just decided they wanted to roost there next to him. That coop is short, too, and under some trees. It was their grow-out coop, has an attached pen. They range freely now, and at least the girls go inside to lay their eggs in the nest box...

    These are BIG birds; I suspect the inside quarters are too small for all of them now that they've grown up.

    It is one reason I am having a larger coop built, so the chickens who are cramped in smaller coops can have much better inside roosting accommodations.
     
  5. Pagan Prince

    Pagan Prince Chillin' With My Peeps

    If I were in your situation I'd put some loose fitting and slightly "raised" chicken/rabit wire over the roof. They wont perch on moving and uncomfortable surfaces .imho..... I do it on my nest boxes (Which are a three compartment box inside of a 6x4 UK garden shed. In this case)
     
  6. Countrywife

    Countrywife Corrupted by a Redneck

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    It randomly happens here every time I get a new buch of chickens. They do end up going into the coop at some point, so I just don't worry about it. Try just leaving them alone for a week or so, if you are comfortable with that approach. They may decide they are cold and go inside. At least consider it before some of the other options.
     
  7. shesaredroan

    shesaredroan Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree with the 'highest elevation' theory.
    In my coop my main roosts are hung/suspended about 1 ft below the ceiling. ( 7 ft above ground)
    The 'beginner' roosts start about 1 ft above ground. The 3 inbetween roosts form a ladder up to the main roost.
    As the birds get older (or move up in the pecking order) their roosting places move farther up the ladder.
    The highest in the pecking order, who are usually the oldest birds, roost in the highest (best) positions. ie the lead roo and his favorite girls.

    Shaner, because your flock can get to the top of your coop, they will choose to sleep there, rather than in the lower inside roosts. In a chicken's mind 'higher' is better than 'warmer'.
    We have to learn to think like chickens. [​IMG]
     
  8. Afterburner

    Afterburner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Vancouver, WA
    I had the same problem with flock when they were younger as well. What you have to do is wait until it is fully dark, then grab each bird and place her on a roosting board inside the coop. Do that to each bird in roughly their pecking order. Ie, the den hen first, until the lowest senority hen is the last to be placed inside. You may do that for as long as a couple of weeks. By then, they will have learned that going inside the coop is normal behaviour and will start entering during dusk own their own. Don't be surprised if you have one or more stragglers, they'll probably be chickens low on the senority list and are finding the roof is a nicer perch than what is left over for them. Again, grab them and place them inside. Eventually, everybody will sleep inside the coop. All except one of my ladies were campers, now they go insdie every night.
     
  9. shaner

    shaner New Egg

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    Jan 23, 2010
    Thanks for all your help. I have been taking them off the roof for like 6 months, so I dont think it's a matter of training. I suspect it is too crowded inside. Also, different birds are on the outside every night. My main concern is owls or raccoons, otherwise I would leave them out forever. I killed three raccoons last summer, but have seen no new signs of any since. When I started this, one of the main bits of advice was to lock them in at night or you will lose some.
     
  10. Lofty Dreams

    Lofty Dreams Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At least your hens didn't go broody on top of the coop
     

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