Freaked out hens in a new coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dtchick, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. dtchick

    dtchick Out Of The Brooder

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    I have four red star hens, almost a year old, who are gentle consistent egglayers. Now I have 8 more five week old pullets of different types. Since I got the new chicks I needed a bigger coop and run, which I built on the other side of our backyard. Yesterday was move in day - I brought the chicks out and put the big girls in with them. All went well, there was a little pecking but nothing much. The chicks seemed to really like the new place but the hens spent most of the day pacing back and forth in front of the door to the run, wanting out. They settled a bit towards evening. At dusk I went out to see if I could help settle everyone in for the night. The hens were fine once I put them up on the roost, but now the chicks were totally stressed so I gathered them up and took them back into their brooder for the night. This morning I let the hens out of the coop but kept them locked in the run wanting to see if they would lay eggs for me (they are reliable early morning layers). Went back a couple hours later and there was nothing so I let them out to free range in the backyard. They made a beeline for their half disassembled old coop, flew up into the nest area and frantically climbed all over each other trying to lay eggs in the one nest. I brought out a couple of yesterday's eggs which I placed in the adjoining nests to see if that would encourage them to at least use the different nests but that made them even more stressed as they tried to roll the old eggs into the same nest box. Any sugggestions? Should I try putting today's eggs into the new nest boxes tomorrow morning and just keeping them in? Should I keep the babies out in the new coop even if they seem disoriented and upset? I'm in Arizona so warmth at night is not a problem for the little ones.

    Any suggestion is welcomed. I'm just feeling like the meanest chicken mom in town right now since they're all upset with me.
     
  2. dtchick

    dtchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Just bumping this because I would truly like some advice.
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Yeah, chickens do not like change AT ALL.
    Instead of using real eggs, I would put some golf balls in the new nests. Real eggs can get broken in all the scuffle and chickens can find out real quick that eggs taste good.
    If your weather allows it, leave them locked in the new coop for a few more days. Once somebody gets desperate enough to lay eggs in the new coop, you should be home free.
    If the chicks aren't being harmed and you have a good inclination they won't be harmed, I would leave them out. Going from a warm coop to an air-conditioned house all the time isn't good for them.
    As with all things chicken, they'll get over it.
     
  4. granmahen

    granmahen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any change in habitat or additions cause at least one if not all our hens to quit laying for 2 to 4 weeks. I know, its rotten, but be patient. Give them lots of treats and reassure them. They'll be back to laying soon. At least they're still making fertilizer for you.
     
  5. dtchick

    dtchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you. I finally got an egg from each of them but one was in the old nest, two were in the bushes and my last poor girl wandered around like she had nowhere to go. I put her back into the new nests and she scratched around for quite awhile so I though she might come through for me but no luck. She ended up going back to the old nest and finally laying there. Do you think it might help if I put the hay from the old nest into the new one? Do chickens have a strong sense of smell?
     
  6. granmahen

    granmahen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:that might work...also put the eggs that were laid back into the new nests. That might give them the hint.
     
  7. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:[​IMG]

    Chooks are like little kids (and some of us that aren't so little, lol) they are very attached to their routines and get cranky when things get changed. I completely agree with gritsar, leave them locked in their new digs for a few days (it took mine 2 full weeks) and once they get used to it you'll be home free. I think by letting them out and them going back and forth to their old coop you're just prolonging the pain of adjustment--kinda like pulling a band aid off quick or trying to do it slowly, the intention is good but just getting it over with is the way to go.

    ETA: You could hang a cabbage and/or a suet block or flock bock in the new coop/run to make things more appealing...they're still not gonna like it, but that might get them to ease up on the pacing for awhile.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010

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