Chickens will not use coop!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Majikthise, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Majikthise

    Majikthise Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 19, 2013
    We built a coop for the chickens for winter and they will not go in it. I worry about them since it is getting very cold out (below 30).

    All summer they have been using a dog run that we put two walls, a perch, and a roof on that they stay in at night (due to stray dog and coyote problem they cannot roam without us during the day) it protects them from the elements but also is very open since it gets up to 115F here and it worked very well. Well since it is icy and freezing we added a closed coop on the outside that they can get in and out of from the run area.

    it has a nesting area and a roosting bar with plenty of space, but they will not use it. Did we do something wrong? How do we get them to use it?


    we may have ruined our rooster on it since we had to close him up in it when the ice hit (like 3 inches with below freezing temps for 4+ days), I would have asked how to get him to want to use it, but the weather was a bit of a surprise for us and did not have time. The hen was injured by our dog when she got loose so she had to come in during that time to heal (she is back out there now) but now that she is back outside she isn't using it either. :/

    thanks for any help
  2. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    I have read a couple of things about that here. Hopefully a veteran will come along in a minute with some real answers. In the meantime, I understand that if they were not raised in the coop, it helps to manually put them to roost in the coop until they start getting the idea. I also know that my flock will not step foot in a dark coop even though they were raised in it. Lastly, make sure that there is plenty of room and adequate roosts so that aggression is not a factor in their reluctance to use the coop.
  3. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    there are several things you can try.

    After dark when they have gone to roost, manually move them to the roost in the coop

    put a small light in the coop so it's not dark which may make it easier for them to go in at dusk/nighttime

    put their favorite treats in the coop instead of the run, even go so far as to make a "trail of breadcrumbs" into the coop.

    Lastly, throw your hands up and say "go figure" and let them stay where they want. The purpose of a coop is to protect them from predators and the weather. If where they stay now stays dry and it's out of the wind then it's probably fine for them.
  4. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    We moved our girls into a new coop this spring. I made a trail of canned corn into the coop. They followed it. Once inside, I shut the pop door and kept them in there several days as "coop training" so they would know it was home. I also eliminated any way for them to get back to the new coop.

    If you have to, place them in there at night and then keep them in the coop a few days so they know it's their home. Make sure you move or cut off access to the old coop to prevent them from returning.
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Chickens need to be put in a new coop for a week 24/7 to know where home is. After letting them back out, remove the roost bars in the run for a period of time so they aren't tempted to roost there, and put the light on inside the coop just before dusk to get them in. Turn it off when you lock up, or use a timer. They are creatures of habit.
  6. shmeggs

    shmeggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 24, 2013
    I locked my chickens I the coop for a week solid. after a week I let them out to free range my yard then at dusk they know where home is inside the coop.
  7. jonsccm

    jonsccm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Remove any outside roosts and make sure they have food and water only in the coop. And they have good roost space in there coop. Their instinct to roost will drive them in there. Also adding a light on a timer would help.
  8. windtryst

    windtryst Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2008
    My chickens like it outside in the enclosed run, they have a coop, but hardly ever go in. 5 yrs. & they are all fine. We call them "rail birds" as they roost on the rafters...
  9. Peringle

    Peringle Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 17, 2013
    I had to put mine in the coop. I came home from work one night and they were all huddled together in the corner on top of the coop. So I grabbed them one by one and put them in the coop. I just did it that one night and they go in there on their own now.
  10. Majikthise

    Majikthise Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 19, 2013
    Thank you all so much for the great advice! I will remove their roost and food from the outer cage. They free range during the day though so we will just have to make sure they have plenty of food and water inside their coop. They have been sharing the caged area with the rabbits so we will have to move them for this to work I think.

    We are going to make some changes to the coop before we start this though. My husband built the coop out of pine fence pickets and the inside is plywood. He is going to remove a picket on the east and west sides of the coop and replace it with stacked Plexiglas so they have permanent windows instead of using a light out there.

    I really really appreciate how incredibly helpful everyone on this forum is! This is my go-to place for chicken questions :D
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013

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