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Free range hens rejecting new coop!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by awarmrainyday, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. awarmrainyday

    awarmrainyday Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2014
    Hey all! I've got a bit of an odd situation going on here. I've posted before about a sick rooster, my now fluffy spoiled ancient little house rooster, who wandered to my property on deaths doorstep from a livestock dealer down the road. The dealer has been the subject of abuse and neglect investigations over the years, it's just not a good place for any animal. So I've had a herd of ducks and hens coming and sitting on my doorstep for the last month. Some are sick and underweight, and they've now figured out I've got fresh water and food for them. The hens have been persistent to the point that I put a cardboard box on the porch so they wouldn't sit out in the wind and rain. Two of them have stayed there for two weeks (the little one has a limp).

    So I built them a small hen house. For chickens that aren't mine. My husband was NOT thrilled, especially after discovering that I sawed and nailed for two weeks with a fractured wrist...seeing ortho doc tomorrow... Anyway, last night was the first night the coop was ready. It is insulated, draft free, has a nice fluffy layer of wood shavings, hanging watered and feed dish. I sprinkled scratch and meal worms on the food dish in hopes they'd like it. I also made a trail of seeds from them to the henhouse and uo the ramp (maybe the treads are too big?). But when I checked on them they were huddled in the cardboard box. I moved them to the nice warm and dry henhouse and they stayed there all night. This morning they were just outside it pecking away at the ground. But after work tonight, they are nowhere to be found! I took their cardboard box and now they're gone :( I feel bad, I thought they'd like the henhouse since it's a huge upgrade from a soggy cardboard box. If I can't convince them to stay my husband is really gonna kill me... Any ideas why they don't want to stay there, and how to get them to stay (assuming they're back in the morning).

    P.s. I don't feel bad about trying to keep the neighbors hens because he let's the ones that don't sell die anyway. And it's not theft if they just decide to move into my hen house, right?
  2. MainerChick

    MainerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chickens are creatures of habit. You more or less have to 'program' them to know the new place is 'home'. So when we built a new space for our birds years back, this meant locking them up inside for a bunch of days, at least at night.

    For you, if they come to you at night and huddle in a box, do what you did. Scoop them up, put them in the coop, and let them out after its light out. Then get them back in the next evening before full dark when they might scatter to some other location. Repeat for maybe two weeks and they should be fully 'programmed' and they'll likely roost in that new space automatically.

    I really hate when people mistreat animals, and I applaud you for taking in the local escapees. Good luck with your rescue project!
  3. AuntNomi

    AuntNomi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2015
    Callahan, Florida!

    I agree here with the rescue. They deserve better then he is treating them. Hope they make their way back to your place.
  4. sawilliams

    sawilliams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2015
    Nor Cal
    Maybe put the card board boxes out so they have something familiar to go to and just keep the boxes maybe moving them closer to the coop every few days and moving the chickens into the coop at night till they accept it on thirst own
  5. awarmrainyday

    awarmrainyday Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2014
    Thanks all for the input. I was thinking of building a run with some lattice I have laying around (its only 2 feet tall) and putting netting over it (attached to the 4' coop roof) to keep them in for a week or two so they'd have no choice but to use the coop at night. Any thoughts on that?

    Eventually I'd let them free range again as that's what they are used to and they are good about staying in the yard and off the road.
  6. MainerChick

    MainerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    That's a perfect solution! It should give them everything they need while encouraging the right behavior.
  7. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I also applaud what you're trying to do for these homeless chickens. Yes, by all means install them in the coop and keep them in there for several days if you get the chance to do so. It's the only way to get them to roost in the coop.

    Hope your wrist heals okay after the strain it's suffered as a result of your compassion.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  8. awarmrainyday

    awarmrainyday Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2014
    Thanks everyone for being so helpful! I put fresh bedding in their cardboard box, covered the roof in plastic and put it back so if they want to stay there while I work on the run they can. I have a few days off for new years so that should give me plenty of time to get it done.

    I've apparently had a fractured wrist for over a month. Originally I was told it was tendonitis and wore a splint. I had a check up yesterday and he suggested an xray since it hasn't healed amd continued to be reinjured.

    On the bright side my husband has apologized for being such a big baby over a cold hes had and not helping out around the house. So I can probably guilt him into helping me with the run. :D
  9. MainerChick

    MainerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Holy smokes! Get that man working! I hope your wrist heals quickly. Take it easy with all this project work :)
  10. awarmrainyday

    awarmrainyday Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2014
    Update!! I have three hens living happily in the henhouse and temporary run. They don't want to use the roosts but instead have been sleeping in the nest boxes. The fourth little hen is currently in a tote in my bathtub enjoying a vaporizer and scrambled eggs while she takes a course of Tylan. I tried Duramycin in their water for the past four days and she has only gotten worse. Last night she was wheezing and rattling and her little face would get all red. She's probably not happy being away from her friends but she seems to be feeling better today.

    The same muscovy flock still comes daily, they lay around the hen house run and follow me for food and treats. They arrive at dawn and stay until it starts to get dark. I feel really bad because some evenings they stand and look in the henhouse door and eventually fly off. I thought about making them a shelter, but they keep multiplying! It was one drake and about 8 ducks. Then three other little white ones showed up. Then one regular brown and white duck. And this morning there was a new drake checking us out. By lunch, he had brought his entire flock. I have 25 ducks in my front yard right now! Some of the new ones look a little rough.

    I feel really bad not feeding them because they obviously aren't cared for at the neighbors. But I don't have shelter for them and they cross the road every morning and night to get to me. I'm afraid if I did take the fence down around the henhouse now that the hens have made that home, that the ducks might try to take over! Anybody have any ideas? Should I try to make a makeshift shelter or just stop feeding them...[​IMG]

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