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Do my chickens hate their coop THAT much?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nunlef, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. nunlef

    nunlef In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    I have 7 1/2 chickens (one leghorn keeps flying away, but we catch her each morning), most are FBCM, 1 easter egger, 1 RIR, and 1/2 white Leghorn. They won't go in the coop.

    Our original plan was to build a fancy coop over a few months, then get chickens. I couldn't wait, so I built a cheapy coop in a weekend. It is drafty but dry. We typically have winds of at least 10mph 24hrs/day (we live in a narrow valley) and frequently have sustained winds over 20mph. Our temps have been around freezing overnight. I let the chickens out each morning around 10am, and have been putting them to bed around dusk, they are usually only fed at night inside the coop - free range otherwise.

    Anyway, my problem is that they won't go in the coop unless I physically chase down each one and place it in there. Many times, they will escape while I'm trying to get another one in. Our overnight lows will be in the low 20's for the next few months and I don't want them freezing to death. They do huddle together on the outside roost once it gets dark.

    So, is my coop that bad (i.e. should I scrap it and build a newer, better one) - OR are they just dumb chickens who can handle windchills of 10 degrees F.

    Thanks so much for all your help,

  2. mtnhens4

    mtnhens4 Chirping

    Mar 12, 2011
    Western NC
    Pictures would be helpful. You said that the coop is drafty but is it secure from predators? Chickens roost where they feel secure, high up makes them feel secure, so how high is their inside roost? Maybe you should take the outside roost down so they will seek out a better place to roost and hopefully that's in their coop:/
  3. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    How long have the chickens lived in the coop before you started letting them out? If you just moved them into the coop, They don't know it's supposed to be their home. Try keeping them in for a couple of weeks, then let them out and see what happens. How old are they? I know when I first let my chickens out when they were youngsters, It took a few days of herding them in before they got the idea they were supposed to go in at night.
  4. nunlef

    nunlef In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    I've seen the coops on here, I'm not posting a picture of my ugly crooked project [​IMG] I had to paint the whole thing white (trim and all) so it looks even from a distance [​IMG]

    The coop is safe from predators, and the run has been sufficient - though I think my dog helps a bit with that. The leghorn actually spent last night at the far end of our field in some brush and was fine, I think the dog has permanently scared away all wildlife.

    The exterior roost is about 18" off the ground, it is level with the floor of the coop. The interior roost is about 18" from the floor of the coop. The interior roost is new because they wouldn't use the old one (too rickety I think - this one is a 2x4 screwed to the walls, I could sit on it).

    I did line the interior of the coop with plastic sheeting because I used old oak fence boards for the floor. When the wind picks up, the sheeting inside makes a lot of racket. Could this be the issue? The chickens are fine with kids and dogs running around, but maybe the plastic sound is scary?

  5. mnabity

    mnabity Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    Eagar, AZ
    I agree with the last post. Take down the roost outside, at least until they get in the habit of going to bed. Chickens aren't picky, they don't care about how pretty their house is. All they care about is being safe. My girls have a regular fully enclosed coop and underneath is a 3 sided open coop. Until the temps dropped below zero they would not sleep in the coop they preferred to be underneath snuggled together.
  6. nunlef

    nunlef In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    Quote:They have been living in it for about 2 months, they are about 4 months old. In 2 months, they have only gone in on their own 4-5 times. Sometimes I think they do this because they like seeing me run around like an idiot.

    Oh, and the exterior roost is new as of 2 days ago. I did have something else out there before, but it wasn't ever supposed to be a long term thing. Maybe they jsut like the new roost.

    All (except the LH) are very cold tolerant, so maybe They aren't freezing like I am.
  7. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

    Jun 3, 2011
    Middle Tennessee
    The only thing that worked for me is to put them in the coop, close the door and don't let them out for a week or two. They will learn that the coop is home, and that's where they'll return at night to roost. As long as they have room to move around inside, fresh water and feed each day, they'll be fine cooped up in the coop for a week or two.

    And yes - take down the roost that's outside.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011

  8. Kadjain

    Kadjain Songster

    12 of my chickens wanted to roost in the plum tree over their coop. When I decided that I wanted them to move into the coop I had to catch all 12 the first night. The second night there was only 6, the third night I think there were 5. After the third night they all went into the coop on their own and they do every night now.
    I learned to wait till they had been roosting for a while and it was a lot easier to catch them than when they had just started to roost.
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    I'd staple your plastic sheeting down better...that sound may just keep them nervous about staying there in the night. I'd also remove the outside roost...not necessary at all to have one. Then I'd lock your birds in the coop with their food and water for about a week and see how they do after that.

    With optional places to roost outside, many birds won't go into a coop unless they've been trained to see the coop as more secure. These birds haven't had the chance to experience that very much/long...I'd give it a try.
  10. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I do think the noise is scaring them. Also drafty coop doesn't equal well ventilated. Drafts are very bad for chickens. I wish you would post a picture of your coop so we know what you are working with. Is there a reason your inside roost is only 18" off the floor.? Chickens like to roost higher up. I'm wondering if you coop isn't very tall and thats why the roost is low. See that's why we need pictures to look at.

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