Chickens Went AWOL!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RdubIdaho, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. RdubIdaho

    RdubIdaho New Egg

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    I have 9 hens. The chickens free range during the day and then historically have returned to the coop religiously every evening before sunset. A few weeks ago a few chickens did not return to the coop. A week later none of them were returning to the coop. They are choosing to roost in the back of my barn instead (and laying eggs randomly all over the barn). I have manually returned them to the coop, but have grown weary of doing this each night. I'm about ready to give up on them. The coop has every creature comfort they could want (shelter, roosts, nest boxes, food, water, supplementary heat when very cold, etc.) so I don't understand why they are not using the coop? Does anyone know how to get them to start going back in the coop at night and laying eggs in the nest boxes within? Please help! Ryan in Eagle, ID.
     
  2. dragonthehunter

    dragonthehunter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Lock them in the coop for a few days then let them out
     
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    x2 Lock them up for a few days until they get back into good habits.

    Chickens are contrary creatures. That is a fact.

    LofMc
     
  4. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    I agree with the suggestion of locking them in the coop for a couple of days, remind them where home is.

    However, I just wanted to add that it is a little strange that they all of a sudden decided not to roost there anymore and I would wonder why.

    A couple of reasons I know of could be mites [feeding on them at night], rodents annoying, spooking and possibly trying to bite them. Something could have changed which they are not happy about so they made alternative accommodation arrangements. I would watch them at roost time to see if they are showing any signs of what might be upsetting them.

    As LofMc mentioned, Chicken are contrary [​IMG]
     
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  5. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Overrun With Chickens

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    Why not connect a run to the coop? Free Ranging is great but my concern, having done it, are predators.
     
  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Teila makes a very good point...do check to make sure that nothing is creating problems in the coop like a predator or pest or some sort of disturbance.

    I have had chickens do goofy things, like turn up their beaks at lovely coops that are not filled with pests or predators, but if you suddenly find all the chickens opposite of your coop often it means a predator....especially in winter...I note you are in Idaho.

    This kind of nonsense usually happens in summer for me.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
  7. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    ....oh just thought of something else....you are in Idaho in winter now.

    Are they free ranging and there is snow on the ground?

    They are probably staying out later because of the light on the snow, but then it suddenly is too dark and they are taking refuge in the biggest thing they can see since they can't find their normal path.

    Birds cannot see well in dim light and will huddle to the best thing they can. I pick them up all over the place.

    If you are having snow confusion in twilight, then definitely lock them in the coop and create a run.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
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  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    ..and


    [​IMG]
     
  9. RdubIdaho

    RdubIdaho New Egg

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    Thank you for your suggestions. I will lock them up in the coop for awhile and see if that helps. I'll let you knowhow it goes.

    Ryan
     
  10. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    Once you have them suitably retrained, and they are returning to their coop, you could try a handful of scratch about 30 minutes before sundown, in the coop, so they associate returning to the coop with yummy stuff. I note you are in Idaho, and it is winter, so it is good for them anyway. You could even start this practice while they are "cooped up" so they associate the coop and bedtime with yummy stuff. [​IMG]

    I do this with mine in the run so they are all contained and I can lock them up just before bedtime.
     
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