coop within a coop--how smart are chickens?


In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 9, 2014
long story short i am new to chickens--keeping them for the first time over winter. I have 2 little red hens and bought one of those pre-fab coops and hate it--much too small even for just 2 hens--so I put the little coop inside my back porch shed--shed is insulated and has 4 large windows and is about 10 x 14 and 7 feet tall with great ventilation. However it is far too large for 2 little hens to warm up for winter so I am hoping they will go into the smaller coop when it gets really cold. right now they roost outside of small coop and only go into the little coop to lay eggs in the nesting boxes...will they go into the smaller coop when it gets colder? I live in Quebec, Canada get well below zero here for weeks at a time during the winter. thanks for any insight into hen behaviour!
If you don't get more responses to this post then you should try reposting under managing your flock with a title asking for suggestions?

With only 2 to keep each other warm, they would be better off to sleep in the smaller coop.

Chickens are quite smart, but creatures of habit…good thing they are using the nests. But if you want them to sleep in the smaller coop, I would start tonite placing them inside it at roost time. In a few nights, they should get the idea and do it on their own.

But make sure the roosts in small coop is comfortable for them. The same size and shape they are using and at least 18 inches or more off the floor in an area with adequate head room.

If small coop won't' accommodate appropriate roost conformation, then consider adding a "bedroom" in the larger coop with plywood walls?
-the smaller coop is too small to make a decent roost in it--it is one of those prefab things and now that I know more I think it is very badly designed for chickens :( they used to sleep in the nesting boxes when they only had the small coop.
the other thing I could do is take them and lock them in the small coop after they have gone to roost---very good idea thank is filled with straw but easy to clean. I was hoping they would just realize the smaller coop was warmer but I think you are right they may need some help! thanks

just so you know I do have an outside pen for them during the summer so they get lots of sun, earth and scratch time--i just can't let them free range because my dogs would kill them. :(
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IMO: Your girls will NEVER be comfortable sleeping in the little pre-fab coop, because it is contrary to their nature. Which is to seek a high spot to safely roost away from ground predators. My suggestion is that you provide them with a shelter where they prefer to roost. Or, you could raise that pre-fab up so it is higher than their current roost. They may then choose to use it. You pose an interesting question! I wish you best with your solution. Please post back, and let us know what works for you. I wish you the best.
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thank you so much--i suspected this-the idea of locking them in the small coop seemed like the right solution as I do not want any frozen toes BUT I do not like going against their nature. I will make them something insulated and smaller high up and they can continue to use the smaller coop as their nesting box. thank you!! I will post photos. thanks again everyone!

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