Coop "training"

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dwdoc, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. dwdoc

    dwdoc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 13, 2010
    Seffner, Florida
    I'm a week into adopting two 8 week old Plymouth Rock pullets and since starting this adventure I have heard so many things about...well...pretty much everything chickens. Much of the information is either counter intuitive or differs from what the last person just told me...

    The one thing I am concerned about now is "Coop Training". I have heard that you need to keep your birds locked in the coop for a minimum of two weeks to two months in order for them to recognize the coop as their home. After that, so I am told, they will return to their coop at night on their own.

    So I figured I'd turn to the experts here for answers. Thank you.
  2. Louieandthecrew

    Louieandthecrew I am actually a female!

    I don't have any advice for you right now, but I'd love to get this thread moving for you!
  3. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2010
    You can do that, or you can just put them on the roost at night until they learn. (I presume there's a fence around the coop, so you'd be able to find them at night?)

    When mine were younger, anytime I changed something in the coop, they would get scared and try to sleep outside. So I would carry them all back in - it takes a while to carry 50 chickens! [​IMG]
  4. dwdoc

    dwdoc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 13, 2010
    Seffner, Florida
    I live in the burbs and I'd like them to roam the back yard during the day and get locked in their coop at night.
  5. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
    They will roost where they feel safe. That is the short answer.
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    It doesn't take long, a few days depending on how far they're allowed to roam. The coop should satisfy their basic needs, comfort, roosting, adequate space, water. If they don't hate it they will call it home. I ususally keep mine inside a couple days so they know where to sleep, then pen them close to the coop for a few days so they get their bearings. i.e. know what the outdoors looks like and its relationship to the coop. Then all is well. Most breeds won't stray far at first and run back in when anything scares them. Eventually they go farther afield.
  7. jomoncon

    jomoncon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    When my little 8 RIRs were 3 weeks old, we finally moved them out of the house & into their coop. Because the run was not quite complete, we had to lock them in the coop for about a week. Then they were afraid to go into the run!! They've been in the coop/run now for 6 weeks. Now, when I let them out to play in the backyard, I leave the coop & run doors open. They know this is home & will often wander back in on their own. Or I can cal out, " Here, chickie, chickie, chickie." and throw a handful of scratch in gte run & they all come running back.

    However, I do remember having to put them on the roost so that they would recognize what it is. I'm going to be rearranging the roost system today, and it will be interesting to see how they react.
  8. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    What I've learned is that there is a wide variety of approaches to chicken management and philosophies on here, and I need to read with that in mind.

    I've never brought older chicks home. But I don't believe I'd ever lock up a whole flock for weeks, much less months. When I read about people bringing home older birds and doing this, I wonder, why won't they go in on their own? Why can't you simply put the food in there, and maybe tempt them in a couple of times with treats, so they know this?

    Are you having a problem getting them in? (If not, I say, forget about it!) How big is the coop? What have you tried? Have you set them on the roosts at night?

    I agree with Spartacus that they will sleep where they feel safe.
  9. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    Two months is WAY too long... two weeks may be too long...

    A few days to a week, IMO, has been plenty in my experience. My first flock was confined just a few days... their run wasn't done. 3-4 days was enough for them to know it was the safe place to sleep. They were initially just released to a run, though, not total free range without limits, so that may make a difference.

    I recently introduced 8 younger ones that were about 8 weeks or so, and they just followed the older birds' lead. When they were first let out to free range into a larger back yard with the older birds, they didn't venture far from the coop door at all for the first few times. It's been about a little over a month since they moved into the 'big coop', and during free range, they still don't go to the furthest parts of the area they given access to... preferring to stay on the side of the yard still closest to the coop even tho the older birds are in every corner.

    I'd say confine them in the coop for 3-4 days, providing you hopefully have a coop big enough to give them decent room... then give them access to their run (if you have one for them) and see if they go back to the coop at bedtime. If you don't have a run and plan to free range, I'd only free range them for an hour or so before nightfall for the first few times...they shouldn't venture very far that way, and once you see that they return 'home' at nightfall, you're all good.

    You'll probably find that they'll choose not to leave the coop the first day or two once you open it up for them to go out...especially with just two of them and no older birds to pave the way. Just open it up and let them decide when to go out... it just reinforces the 'safety' of the coop to them. They have to figure out how and where to go in and out of the coop...and those first few times opening it up give them LOTS of practice as they usually peek back in... step out a little back in... [​IMG][​IMG]
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    My coop wasn't finished when I got mine at 8 weeks so I put them in a small gambrel roof barn type shed with a loft till the coop was done (which I made a 40% scale version of the other shed). I went out one evening late and no birds, looked up and they were all roosting in the loft. They will eventually roost by nature, especially pullets.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by