HELP getting a chicken up the ladder?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AnnieSantiago, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Songster

    Aug 13, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    So, we have been working on the coop and run for my new hens.
    We will build a covered run once we've finished the coop.

    We raised the coop up off the ground today, and one of my hens just flat refused to go up the new ladder.
    She didn't seem to connect to "that's how you get in."
    The EE hen did fine and went right up and I thought the Speckled Suffix would follow.
    In the end after chasing her around for 20 minutes, I cornered her and just physically put her into the coop.

    I'm attaching a photo.
    Is the coop just too high up?
    It's about 3 feet off the ground.
    Would it help to make the ladder wider???


    I don't see how I can make this ladder any less steep without making the fenced-in portion (which we haven't yet built) too long.
    Any ideas about how to get the bird in?

    Also, I noticed something funny.
    When I make little "peeping" whistles that sound like a baby chick, she just follows me all over.
    I could get her to follow me right up to the ladder, but not ONto it.

    She's never had chicks - I wonder why she follows that sound?
    She can be way across the yard and if I make that sound, she comes running.
    She's sweet - but she won't go to bed!
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master

    Jan 10, 2013
    I'm far from expert, but have several thoughts:

    1- She may just be the "chicken" in the flock and not adjusting to the changes.

    2-Board width - can't tell the size board you used from the photo - but "Building Chicken Coops for Dummies" recommends the ramp be 8 inches width. I used a 1 x 12" board. My girls don't always go up and down in single file and if narrower, some could get bumped off the sides.

    3-Angle of the ramp, same book quoted above, recommends nothing steeper than 45 degrees. Looks like yours is about the steepest they can climb. I set mine at a smaller angle and longer when they were young and clumsy. When they were older, larger, cut the length and stacked concrete steppers under the end to reduce the angle. They come down the ramp and jump easily off the end or higher up the ramp to the run.

    4- Spacing of the side rungs. We placed ours too far apart so I added something to give them more grip between the rungs. Bought an item at hardware store meant for preventing slippage on stairs, has an adhesive backing to stick to the board, but it does peel up from the edges over time. But, I had painted the ramp and think unpainted boards would not need this.

    5- It took my girls several days and nights to learn to use their ramp ( but they were 5-6 weeks old at the time) and we lifted them in and out. But used mealy worms thrown on the ramp and they learned quickly how to use the ramp.

    * I have seen photos and youtube videos of hens using a ramp just like yours. Before I would rebuild, try elevating the end with whatever you have - concrete block, a heavy box or whatever. Try enticing her to go up to get treats laid on the ramp. Hope this helps.
  3. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Songster

    Aug 13, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for the feedback.
    I do feel the ramp is almost too steep but there's not much I can do about it now.
    I think I'll try raising it at the end, as you suggested, and also will look into getting sandpaper or something "rough" to give them traction.

    Thanks again!
  4. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Songster

    Aug 13, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    Meal worms are also a great idea. I'll pick some up today.
  5. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Songster

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    The formula we use for building a chicken ramp is that the length of the ramp is twice the distance from the opening to the ground. If it's a 3 foot drop, then the ramp is 6 feet long. Pretty sure I got that formula from somewhere on BYC but couldn't tell you where. It has worked well for our girls, they've never had a problem.

    We also use a wider board, about 6-8 inches, with smaller pieces of wood nailed at intervals on top to give them something to grip as they walk up. They don't climb it like a ladder, they walk up but need something to grip as they go up the incline.
  6. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Songster

    Aug 13, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    Unfortunately, we built the framework before we thought about how steep the ramp was so that formula won't work for us.
    However, I think we can prop it up higher at the tail end, and maybe even nail it LOWER under the door.
    I'll post photos later today.
    Thanks for your help.
  7. Jetpad

    Jetpad Chirping

    If you don't have enough room to make it longer, instead of having it come straight out from the door, you could make a little platform at the door and have it come down next to the coop. Or you could do switchbacks, like the way they put trails or roads up steep mountains.

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