Half the flock all of a sudden won't go into coop at night?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SillyJilly, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. SillyJilly

    SillyJilly Just Hatched

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    Dec 13, 2016
    Wisconsin
    I have 7 hens, 3 months old. The past three nights, I've gone out to close up the coop and some of the girls are roosting in the pen outside. The first two nights, it was two but tonight a third joined them. I'm in central Wisconsin and we're in the single digits now so I'm crawling into the pen every night to get them and put them in the coop. They've all gone in at sundown voluntarily before this. What in the world would make them do this now?
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict


    Something is scaring them or getting them at them in there....could be red mites coming out at night to chaw on them or you've got rats coming in at night. If a chicken won't seek shelter at night and in the cold, it's something that they are scared of. Check for signs of rodents and go out at night and examine the roosts and the birds for red mites. Could be either...tis about the season for both issues.
     
  3. SillyJilly

    SillyJilly Just Hatched

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    Dec 13, 2016
    Wisconsin
    My first thought was something in the coop too so I checked it and the girls pretty throughly today and nothing was apparent. It's secured from the outside with no signs of a 'break in' and the ground is frozen so nothing is digging into the pen at night. I'll go double check for mites but I thought that was something that went dormant in the winter?

    I added more pine shavings than normal this week (an extra inch or two) because of the temp dropping, but I wouldn't think that would bother them.
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Rats can get in places you wouldn't think they could, so don't count them out...if you have feed out there overnight, I'd remove it. Mites are supposed to go dormant in the winter months, but ya never know. Would be interesting to borrow a game cam and film what happens in there at night, huh?
     
  5. SillyJilly

    SillyJilly Just Hatched

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    Dec 13, 2016
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    Oh great idea! I just might do that. I'll definitely be picking up the feed and watching for mites in the meantime. Thank you :)
     
  6. zella chapman

    zella chapman New Egg

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    Mar 19, 2015
    We have 10 hens and every time a possum goes into the coop, the chickens go out, even in the middle of the nite.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Pest and predator aspect had been well covered.

    Did the boycott start when you added the shavings?
    When I changed out shavings this fall they wouldn't go in for hours, they were freaked out, it was kinda of funny.
    But they did go in at roost time....just a thought, chickens don't like change and can start some strange new habits when confronted with it.

    Do you have adequate coop and roost space(feet by feet) and ventilation in the coop for that many birds?
    At 3 months they are gaining size so may feel crowded.
    There could also be some pecking order changes going on.
     
  8. SillyJilly

    SillyJilly Just Hatched

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    Dec 13, 2016
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    Yes, the boycott started the day I added the shavings. I've changed out the shavings before, but I definitely added more than normal this time to give them some extra insulation. The extra couple inches of shavings on the bottom left their roosting bars lower than normal, but they can still get on them. They have two bars, each about 3 1/2 feet long but up until now they've all crammed onto one. I imagine they're running out of space on the one bar, but they do have another one available inside.

    I went out again last night and checked for signs of pests and predators and found nothing. The coop is very secure so I really don't think anything is getting in there without at least leaving some evidence.

    We normally leave a small window open for ventilation (covered in hardware cloth) that I've been shutting because of the low temps, but we've drilled five dime sized holes on the top of two of the walls for cross ventilation. Also, I've been shutting the window for a couple weeks now with no problem so I think they're ok with that.

    I guess maybe a pecking order issue...
     
  9. Oneofthempeople

    Oneofthempeople Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2016
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    Did you change anything beside the bedding, add a heat lamp, moving something around. My birds did the same thing for a couple of nights after I opened up there nesting boxes just because they where scared. I know it was not anything getting at them because my coop is well secure and just Like you I live in Wisconsin and the temp is to cold so I did the same thing went and put them in the coop by hand. It took a few days and they just did it on there own after they got use to the new stuff. Also did you change type of bedding, pine to oak..... Hope they come around.
     
  10. SillyJilly

    SillyJilly Just Hatched

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    Dec 13, 2016
    Wisconsin
    No changes to the bedding other than more of it and no other changes in the coop. I think im going to try raising the roosting bars today because the height is the only thing that appears different with the extra bedding in the bottom. The bar they're picking outside is quite a bit higher than the ones in the coop so maybe they're being fussy about that? Whatever it is, I'm hoping they get over it quick. Crawling through the pen every night is getting old quick!
     

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