Chickens Won't Go "Upstairs"

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by merdoc, May 19, 2009.

  1. merdoc

    merdoc New Egg

    May 19, 2009

    I am new to backyard chickens. I built my chicken ark/tractor as an A-frame design with a run on the bottom and a roost/nest box upstairs. Here's what it looks like.



    Anyhow, to the problem at hand. I'm not sure if this is an emergency or not, but I received my 19 week old pullets on Friday and they still have not headed up the ramp to roost at night. They will just all cuddle up on the grass on the lower level. How do I encourage them to go up? I manually put them in the roosting area 2 nights ago (and they were quite happy to stay up there). They used the roosting bar with no problems and they came out in the morning. I thought perhaps my ramp 'rungs' were too small, so I changed them to 2x2's... so this shouldn't be a problem. The ramp/opening is about 9 inches wide. Here's a picture of it:
    [​IMG] Do you think that rope is a problem?

    How do I get them to use my coop as designed? Should I wait them out or should I keep putting them up there until they figure it out? Any ideas/suggestions?

    Thanks for any help.
  2. wanda047

    wanda047 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2009
    Hardy, Arkansas
    You didn't mention what type of chickens you had?? This might actually make a difference.

    I am in the process of building my silkies a new coop for this very reason. They refuse to walk their ramp! You'd think I was asking them to walk a plank! I have to pick each one up and place them in their coop each night. To solve the issue I'm building them a new coop, which sits lower to the ground.

    Your chickens may just need some encouragement and will probably catch on soon enough. I'd give them some more time. My polish caught on really fast. I only had to put them in their coop one time! The following night they were in their coop waiting for me to lock them in.

    I think my buff orpingtons are just stubborn (or spoiled). They wait at the gate till they see me coming and want to be escorted to their coop. They follow me in their walk-in coop, and quickly settle in, watching as I lock the door for the night. Duh... Silly chickens. [​IMG]
  3. merdoc

    merdoc New Egg

    May 19, 2009
    I was told they are "Brown Hy-lines" - I got them from a rather large producer of pullets and I'll have to take their word for it, as I have no experience with chickens or breed differences. Here's a photo:

    [​IMG] Here's a link for them:

    I'm hoping that my ramp is sufficient (especially with the added 2x2's) and that it is just shy birds. Are there any things I can do to 'lure' them up the ramp or compel them somehow?

  4. JakRat

    JakRat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    My 5 weeks olds seem confused as well. Have you tried making the ramp less steep? Mine we kinda help along, like by pushing them basically. We are trying to get them to go back down now but who knows when they will catch on. They need to learn fast though because their food is down there!!!
  5. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    My first pullets came to me at about 20 weeks of age and had never been in a coop, just a dog run with no shelter. I put them in the coop by hand every night, and they finally "got it" about 4 days later. Putting some scratch or favorite food bits up in the coop will encourage them that there are good things up there.

    My little 6 week old chicks also prefer to stay outside in the run at night. But I don't want them in the run due to predators. So I've had to crawl in the A-frame each night and retrieve all 12 of them and put them upstairs in the coop. It's been 2 nights so far and I hope they catch on soon.
  6. coloradowildflower

    coloradowildflower Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 12, 2008
    Okay, you've probably all solved this trouble by now, but just in case this is helpful . . .

    We have a similar coop, and the best way I found to get ours to go up (we were having the same problem) was for about a week, I fed them and watered them in there at night. I just put a small feeder and waterer up in the nest box at one end and sprinkled some food on the ramp and most of them just went right up. The first few nights I had some "rebels" that still wanted to sleep in a chicken pile downstairs, so I just put them upstairs with their sisters. After about three days, they were all going up just fine. After about a week I moved the food and water back downstairs and they have gone up with no encouragement every night since . . .

    Yours are a bit older than mine were when I started this, but maybe it will help. Good luck!
  7. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    90% of the time chickens won't go into the coop portion of their homes because there isn't any light. They have horrible night vision, much worse than you or I.

    If you put a light of some sort in there so they can see it's a safe area (not filled with foxes) and so they can see their roosts, that will do the trick.

    I have a light on a timer that comes on before dusk and shuts off after dark. The roosts become the most attractive place to be by virtue of the light.

    Some cheap solar powered lights are available and would do the trick if you don't have power in the area.

    Good luck!!
  8. poetry

    poetry New Egg

    Apr 13, 2007
    Thanks for the info. I have 2 Silkies 5 months old that refuse to go in the coop at night or go up to their little area upstairs or nesting boxes. ( no eggs yet). I have to put them in there. I tried making them stay in the coop for about a week but they still have their favorite place to sleep next to the house outside the coop in the run. If I let them wander the yard they don't want to go into the run either. They have a favorite spot next to the house stairs. Winter is coming so now I have a few more tricks up my sleeve.

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