Chickens won't sleep in their hen house??


7 Years
Apr 30, 2012
Newby here! I am totally new at owning chickens. I have 4, three month old chickens that I have owned since they were 4 weeks old. When I got them I had them in our house to stay warm due to our cold/long winters here in Utah. In early spring I moved them out to their coop with a heat lamp. That is where they stayed for about a month or so, day and night, until the weather warmed up. My chickens are free range now and they WILL NOT return to their coop at night?! Every night I go out, gather them up and place them in their house. Every night!! I have been doing this for two months now and I thought by now they would get the idea. So last week I left them to see if they would figure it out, they always end up on our deck or sleeping in the yard somewhere. Their coop is 4' x 3' and 4' tall. They have 2 roosts, one is 2' off the ground and the other is about 3.6". They also have 3 nesting boxes. I can't figure it out?? They have fresh cedar shavings mixed with DE, so it's not dirty at all. It seems plenty big enough and it's right where they hang out all day, in a cool shaded area of the yard. So what is it?? Also, when I put them in at night instead of roosting on the 2x4 perches provided they sleep in the nesting boxes? What am I doing wrong? I love my girls and will continue to tuck them in each night, but there has to be something I can do to teach them?
It sounds like you are doing everything right, sometimes the chickens just have other ideas of a good time! First, I will say that 3 nest boxes is too many for 4 chickens, though I understand you may want to expand later. To keep them from roosting in the next boxes, you must block the boxes every night and open them every morning. Like other tactics, this should convince them to at least roost elsewhere, though I can't guarantee they'll roost on the roosts (a lot of my adult hens still insist on roosting on the straw floor of my coop). I only have my roosts 1ft off the ground, and though they can usually get up to 2ft, they might be unsure of their footing--try adding a concrete block or something as an extra step up to the roosts. To get free range chickens to go in at night, a lot of people will only feed them inside. Once in the morning, and again right before bed. I give mine an oatmeal snack in their coop right before the sun sets to encourage them to eat and then settle down for the night. Hope my response or someone else's helps you out, and good luck
Welcome to BYC.
They may not like the cedar. It is an aromatic wood, and is not recommended bedding. There's a reason they use it in chests and closets for insect control. As for roosting in the nest boxes, are the perches higher than the boxes?
Okay, I am going to try taking out the cedar. Last night I found them outside in 20 mph winds and pouring rain! They must really hate their little coop if they would rather sit in that weather than be in there!? Their perches are about a foot higher than their nesting boxes, maybe I'll try building a little ladder up to their perch. Although, I doubt That's the problem because they perch themselves up on my deck railing and that's about 4 feet high. Also, do chickens sleep better with a light on at night? Should I do it for a few weeks and then take it out?
The light helps with them coming into the coop until they are used to coming in at dusk, then i agree no light needed....
A couple of handfuls of song bird seed tossed into the coop is enough to get my chickens running to bed. It's like chicken crack, they love it! Of course, you have to teach them what it is before they get the game.

How did it go after you took the Cedar out?

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