Chicks won't go in coop at night

mommyrains

Hatching
5 Years
Mar 26, 2014
4
0
7
Hi there everyone! I am the proud mother of 6 chicks, and they are about 5-6 weeks old. They were inside in a homemade brooder for a few weeks while we built our Garden Coop and now they have been out in the coop for a little over a week. We live in South Texas, so it is plenty warm here. Already.

Anyway, last weekend we finished up the coop enough to where they would be safe because we had plans to travel out of town for Easter. There were a couple of things we hadn't finished (the ladder to get into the coop and some other cosmetic stuff), but they were staying in the coop, so I wasn't too worried about it. Our Garden Coop is completely predator proof...1/4 inch hardware cloth buried 12 inches below, so I am not worried about their safety. Last Friday before we left, we locked them in the coop part and had a friend come by to check on them while we were gone. So, they were locked in for 2.5 days. I had read that you should lock them in for a week. When we returned I let them out to roam the run (I got to thinking that maybe the week part was for those that free range) and, because the ladder wasn't done, have put them up and let them out every night/morning since last Sunday. Every time I put them up at night (picking them up one by one) they always start making all this crazy noise and pile into a corner. Eventually the noise settles down, but it takes them a little bit.
Today, we finished the ladder and the other stuff and, I just knew they were going to waltz themselves right up that ladder come bed time. Well, I was dead wrong. I went out 3 different times to see if they were making any progress, but no. Finally, right before dark, I "helped" them up the ladder and into the coop. They all wanted to come right back out! I even tried a treat. I coerced (picked them up and put them there) them to their roost, but they all ended up making all that awful squawking and trying to pile into the corner.
I don't know if they are scared or what the deal is...does anyone have any suggestions for me? Did I just not lock them in for long enough? How do I fix it?
We have the ability to close the door to the coop at night. Since the coop and run are completely safe, I am not too worried, but feel like they should sleep inside. I worry they might lay to close to the edge of the run and (even though it's 1/4 inch cloth) something might be able to get at them.
In the picture, you can see the door they need to go in at night. We modified the Garden Coop to our liking.

Thank you in advance for any advice!

 

SIMZ

Crowing
8 Years
Apr 29, 2011
2,166
204
261
Northwest Indiana
Don't worry - they're acting completely normal. I think you kept them in long enough, but for some reason chicks that age have to "learn" how to roost in their coop at dusk. The noise you're hearing and the piling is also completely normal for that age. Give them a few more days or week and they'll figure it out. You may also want to turn a light on in the coop at dusk to help them "get it". You can turn it off after they get in there.

They are cute little things!
 

Odelia

Songster
5 Years
Feb 20, 2014
947
61
128
Idaho
Are they trying to sleep on the lovely perch that they are sitting on in the photo? If so take it out until they stop being naughty teenagers. They don't have a mamma hen to tell them what to do so they are making their own choices. It took a while to get my girls to go to bed as they should. I would try keeping them in just the coop a little longer until it starts feeling like home. They are still small so space shouldn't be an issue.
 
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mommyrains

Hatching
5 Years
Mar 26, 2014
4
0
7
Thank you both! The roost you see them on was just put in today, but they sure do love it! I will just keep doing what I'm doing. I have thought about a light...may have to get one. It would be solar powered, so it wouldn't last too long. Thanks again!
 

Mtn Laurel

Songster
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1,534
196
206
Northern Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
I had the same problem when my girls were little. I found that a light in the coop helped. They're drawn to the light and would go towards it and into the coop as it got dark outside. Once they got the hang of it, then the light was no longer needed.
 

mommyrains

Hatching
5 Years
Mar 26, 2014
4
0
7
Just a follow up....the girls have it figured out! They have put themselves to bed for the last two nights. Yay! Thank you for your help. :)
 

Odelia

Songster
5 Years
Feb 20, 2014
947
61
128
Idaho
So what worked with your birds? Was it the repetitive putting them where they should be at night or the light in the coop to draw them in at dusk?
 

mommyrains

Hatching
5 Years
Mar 26, 2014
4
0
7
The repetitive putting them in at night is what did it for me. No electricity out there, so no light. They have it down pat now! Honestly, it only took a few nights. Thanks again!!
 
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