First time chicken owner can't get hens into coop!


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 9, 2009
We didn't get our coop up until 2 days ago and our chicks are now about 10 weeks old! I was keeping them in a rabbit cage on our porch and letting them roam free around our property during the day. Now that the coop is up, I can't get them in there. The past 2 nights has taken me almost an hour to catch each one and place them in the coop. Their food and water is in there and they go during the day, but at night they roost on my windowsill. It is pouring rain right now and they are huddled under my porch door instead of staying dry in their coop. Will they ever figure out they have a nice coop to go to or will they always think the porch is it? (I'm tired of cleaning up all their poop off my patio!
Could you set up at least a temporary run attached to the coop so that that would be their only choice for a while? Or just shut them in the coop for a few days so they get the idea that it is home.
You will most likely need to round them all up and put them in their coop for a few days 3-4 and not let them free range during the day. After a few days they will get the idea and you can let them out and at dusk they will voluntarily go back into their coop and not your porch.
I would try putting a light in their coop at night... chickens can't see in the dark, and they freak out a little at night. If they see the light in their coop, they will go in it at night, because it will be the only thing they can see. I did that to try and get my ladies to go to bed at night, worked like a charm!
Same here, all I had to do was turn the light on at dusk and they seemed to go in on their own, once settled I turned off the light. Now I don't even need the light.
I just put all our babies up into the coop area for the first time 1 1/2 weeks ago. We had to round them up each night and each night the number dwindled as they learned to go up into the coop themselves. We still have 1 out of 15 that hasn't seem to catch on yet. Sshhh, she's special.....
I actually did a combination of the light and locking them up. I had to do it that way because right after I decided they were way too big to keep in my living room any longer, a cold front came through with rain and wind and cold weather. I HAD to put their heat lamp out there (used an extension cord) and kept the door closed for 3 days until the weather warmed up again. They certainly had no problem going back to their coop after that. I still turned the lamp on at dusk, then when they got settled in, turned it off. Now I don't have the lamp out there anymore.
If you don't have electricity at the coop, and can't run an extension cord, then just use a flash light or one of those battery powered push lights. Any light at all will make them want to go in there. Turn it off when they settle in on the roosts and they'll be fine and get used to the dark.
With my chicks I did everything that I've read to do. Kept them in the coop for a week. Then Left the light on for them. Food and water in the coop at night. And for 2 weeks I've still had to catch them one by one and stuff them in the coop (fortunately they were in the run, so it didn't take too long). As a matter of fact, they would sit outside when it got dark and cheep at me like they wanted to be put to bed, but wouldn't go in themselves.

Then last night I went out to put them in, and lo and behold, they were in the coop!

So I guess the moral is, don't give up, even the most feathered of brains will get it eventually!

Good luck!
LOL we had the opposite problem! We FINALLY got the door/ramp assembled for them to get outside and they were terrified. After a day of sitting in the coop, peeking their heads out every now and again I had to get in there with DH and shush them all outside. THey werent happy at all but now love it. They still go in easily tho, I just clap and they go in.

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