Flock has outgrown coop-won't use new coops that are there

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RobandSue2, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. RobandSue2

    RobandSue2 Chirping

    Jan 22, 2016
    New Hampshire
    So I have a 4 x 8 coop with 2 roosting bars the length and 2 the width...I have raised 30 girls in there and now they are getting too big I know. I have another 4 x 8 and 4 x 4 coop in their area but they refuse to use it...they continue to cram into the original 4 x 8.
    I am thinking I'd have to separate and lock them into the other coops for a few days but the heat right now would be fair to them...
    Anyone run into similar..?
    Thanks for any other similar stories...

  2. waddles99

    waddles99 Songster

    Jun 22, 2013
    Simple. Chickens live in flocks by nature. They all want to be together, no matter the space. It provides warmth and protection. Why not just get one big coop for all of them? No matter what you do, they will never go off to separate coops.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Yet mine go to separate coops to sleep after roaming together during the day.

    Chickens are creatures of habit and they are flock animals. They do like to be together. Yet I manage to get mine to sleep in separate coops. It’s usually pretty easy to get them all to sleep in the same coop after they have been sleeping separately, just put them in there at night to sleep a few times. Once or twice is usually all it takes for me, though occasionally I get some that take longer. Splitting them up is harder and less certain.

    I can understand you not wanting to lock them in the coops, especially if you are having the heat many of us are. I don’t know what your run set-up is, but my separate coops each have their own run, set up so they can all roam together or I can isolate some chickens in either coop/run depending on which gates are opened or closed. When I want to get chickens to sleep in the separate coop, I lock them in that coop/run until they get in the habit of sleeping in the new coop.

    Most of the time I do this it’s fairly young chicks. My brooder is in the main coop but when they hit 5 weeks old I sometimes move them to what I call my grow-out coop. I leave them locked in the grow-out coop/run for a two or three weeks before I let them roam with the main flock. I never have problems with them going back to the grow-out coop after that. If I just open the brooder door in the main coop they always go back to the main coop to sleep, not in the brooder but on the floor.

    I usually have problems with chicks that age of getting them to go into the elevated grow-out coop at night. I think it is because it is elevated but they always want to sleep on the ground instead of go into the coop. My brooder in the main coop is also elevated. They don’t go back in the brooder to sleep at night either. I’m mentioning this to explain why I keep the young chicks locked in that grow-out coop/run so long. It normally takes me two to three weeks to get them all to sleep in the coop instead of the run. I’m convinced that’s because it is elevated. It’s usually not a problem with older chickens.

    I’ve done this a few times with older chickens. I tried locking them in that grow-out coop/run for a week. That worked for some but some still wanted to sleep in the main coop when I let them out. And some moved back after a few nights. So now I do two weeks. I’m not going to claim 100% success with two weeks, some chickens can just be stubborn, but it usually works. Three weeks is more likely to work the first time. Sometimes I have to do a repeat when it doesn’t work the first time.

    Instead of locking them in a coop, I suggest you build a run at that coop to isolate the chickens. It doesn’t necessarily have to be predator proof as all you are trying to do is keep chickens in. Keep them in there for at least two weeks, three is better, before you let the two flocks get back together. It should work, it usually does for me.

    I’m assuming you are locking them up at night for predator protection? Why you are doing this might influence the solution. As you can clearly see a 4x8 won’t work for 30 hens.

    I agree the easiest thing from a management viewpoint would have been to build one coop big enough for all of them and keep the old one as an isolation coop. Those come in real handy. But we all do things differently for different reasons and you have what you have. How much coop space you need depends on a lot of different things. You can follow the link in my signature to get my thoughts on some of those.

    One of the big things is how you manage them, how long are they locked in the coop after they wake up. One of the big thing with room is not whether it is in the coop, coop + run, or something else. Coop and run are human concepts, chickens just care about having room when they need it. I still think 30 hens in a 4x8 is just too much even if all they use it for is sleeping, they are going to generate a lot of heat, even if it is a totally open-air coop. One possible way to give them more room is to build a predator proof run around the coop and never lock them in just the coop. It’s harder to predator proof a run and can get pretty expensive but it can be done. I don’t know how close your three coops are but another way to give them more room might be to build predator proof tunnels between the coops so they can spread out between the coops if they need to.

    With 30 hens and two 4x8 and one 4x4 coops you may need to do something to provide more room anyway. I don’ believe in that 4 square feet per chicken plus 10 in the run rule you often hear on this forum. If you follow the link in my signature you can see why. With them all being hens and I assume the same age, you can probably get by with less than the 4 square feet. You may have to adjust your management techniques (let them out early), you need to figure out how to give them nests, feeders, and waterers that don’t get pooped in from the roosts, and you may have to work fairly hard on poop management with that many chickens pooping in a fairly small area at night. With 30 hens you are going to get a lot of poop anyway. You have some challenges but you should be able to work them out.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  4. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    Think of your pullets like high school cliche girls. (Or like my mother...love her to pieces but she is - a stubborn old woman) They hang around with their friends and are not really open to changing that dynamic. So unless you block their ability to get into the old coop, they are going to go to where they feel safe. You might have to move them, once it is dark, to the new coop and block access to the old one. You may have to repeat this a few nights in a row. I had some who were so stubborn they would only sit on the roof of the coop at night so for two week I put them to bed. They like the old coop, they feel safe in the old coop. There is no compelling reason for them to change.
    Does that help?
  5. addarr

    addarr In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2015

    Unless your are like mine and everyone moved in to the new one immediately and the other one sits empty. They are to funny. I just figure if I provide the necessary sleeping quarters they will work it out from there.

  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I would just block off the original coop for a couple of nights, they will 'find' the new places.
  7. RobandSue2

    RobandSue2 Chirping

    Jan 22, 2016
    New Hampshire
    I absolutely appreciated the feedback...lots of great insight....they have a lot of room inside the electric poultry netting to roam together...
    They all fit on the roosting bars-but certainly seems crowded--will be good in the winter -my winter set up will be quite different and more accommodating.

    I close them up at night (nightfall-8:30ish and typically let them out between 5-6am) then free range at 4pm ish until bedtime
    I guess my concern was with the 4ft square rule which seems a bit unrealistic. All my coops are on wheels to move them around the yard-any bigger and I would not be able to do that....
    I'll take a look at another area in the yard to build that predator proof run....and perhaps sell some girls off if need be...
    Thanks again

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