Do chickens need to be taught to go in/roost at night?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TeamHolt, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. TeamHolt

    TeamHolt In the Brooder

    Mar 29, 2012
    Coastal North Carolina
    I have 5 chicks, they're 5 weeks old and tonight is their first night outside. They are in a chicken tractor, much like the design of the Catawba

    None of them have made it into the upstairs/roost portion on their own yet. Do they need to be taught to go to bed? I have shown them there is an upstairs, and they've played on the ramp... but haven't figured it out.

    They just lay down in the grass.

    If I pull up the ramp with them in there- with me manually putting them upstairs- do I need to include their food and water up there too, since they're young?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Songster

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    I have no experience with tractors, but after lifting the surround from the chicks after they no longer need heat they start bouncing up on the roosting area like a bunch of kids on a jungle gym and these roost are set up for large fowel (Rocks). They start roosting on waters and feeders before I give them free range of the coop and run. As far as going in at night, I have never had to catch them and put them in. I subscribe to to the "let 'em be chickens " school of thought. Simple, but it takes alot of stress & fret off me.
  3. WI FarmChick

    WI FarmChick Songster

    Feb 22, 2012
    well.... I too have no experience using a chicken tractor. But...this should work for your girls as well.

    Is there enough room and ventilation for you to lock them in for 3-7 days without them over heating in there?
    if it is cool out side that would help.

    Yes with food and water. Then I would do that. They will learn where home is.

    I will be moving my 7 week old's over to there new coop this weekend, and I will be locking them in for about a week. with food and water. The weather here has been in the mid 50's. I am hoping next week will be the same that way I know they won't over heat.

    This will teach my girls (36 of them) that this is there new home. I will also be keeping the roosters (4 of them) in the old coop with separate run area. i won't have to lock them in.... they already know where they live.

    Hope this helps.
  4. eenie114

    eenie114 Completly Hopeless

    It always takes about a week of me putting them through their door for them to learn to go in at night. Although I've found that the older ones learn faster.
  5. montyhp

    montyhp In the Brooder

    Dec 4, 2008
    South Texas
    Yes, they probably have to be taught. They should be locked in for 3 or 4 weeks so they learn what home is. At night, they should be moved to the roost where you want them to sleep. They will learn in just a few days where the proper sleeping roost is.

    Once the 3-4 weeks is over, they will go home at night and get on the roost when it is time.

  6. WI FarmChick

    WI FarmChick Songster

    Feb 22, 2012
    Oh I almost forgot a small night light helps at dusk for about an hour for them to calm down. When I moved ours from brooder to small coop they didn't want to go in to the coop at night. Thinking it might just be too dark at first.... so a night light did the trick. just don't leave it on all night........ i had a timer. I took it out after 3-4 nights.
  7. RBOutdoors

    RBOutdoors Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    I guess I disagree with what has been said so far. You have such a small setup that they will figure it out in a few days to a week. It took my girls a week to figure out the ladder up to the rooster in my coop, but they got it and now I have now trouble with them. I think for some there isn't as much drive to get higher up yet.

    And with your setup DON'T lock them up stairs. They will be in total darkness and there is not enough ventilation. When others are saying lock them in the coop, for you that means lock them in the tractor. which is what you are doing.
  8. TeamHolt

    TeamHolt In the Brooder

    Mar 29, 2012
    Coastal North Carolina
    Divine intervention, I suppose... I tried to get them all upstairs to then shut the door behind them (which would be like locking them in a wooden box) and the ladder's pulley system broke. So they spent the night outside. They were all huddled together on the ground, so I moved my brooder box heat source out there. In the morning they were walking around, like no big deal!
  9. When I had a chicken tractor similar to the style you have, we always kept some food and water inside it and also a small amount down in the pen area. The problem we found with the tractor style was that it was very dark inside when it was closed up and chickens cannot see in the dark. My DH cut an opening in the end opposite where the nest box area was and he put a small pane of glass in it for some light. It still was pretty dark, but You might want to try that. In the winter when it was dark for long periods of time and they sometimes didn't go down into the pen due to bad weather, we actually ran a light into it.

    To get them used to roosting upstairs, I would manually put them inside for a few days in the mid-late afternoon when it is still light outside, with the ramp down so they will have some light from below to help them get settled. When they seem settled in, pull up your ramp. In the morning when you drop the ramp, watch them. they will probably figure out on their own how to get down and I imagine then they will play around trying to go up as well. Do that for a few days and see what happens.

    good luck.

  10. tmfineg

    tmfineg Songster

    Jan 1, 2012
    Gallatin TN
    We have 2 batches of chicks we started outside in our tractor coop at different times. The older batch was about 6 weeks. They could not figure out how to go up the ramp. I crawled inside and pushed them up the stairs because I was afraid they would get snatched by a cat because they were curled up against the chicken wire. This went on for about 3 days. It was kind of a riduculous routine. On about the 5th night I kneeled in bird pop and had enough. They did figure it out on their own after that. They seemed happy to run down the ladder in the morning.

    The next batch we put in the coop was younger, maybe 4 weeks. They all went right up from day one. I guess it depends on the chickens.

    We do not keep any food or water in the top of the coop and our latter does not raise.close up. E

    Eventually they will figure it out [​IMG]

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