Help needed. New chickens not going into new coop at night. Airlifting 36 chickens is exhausting!

Aug 10, 2020
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Wondering if anyone out there might be able to assist.

I'm an organic farmer with a new beautiful flock of 36 pet chickens - an equal number of hens and roos.

I'm having an issue with the flock entering the coop at night - a beautiful coop with plenty of room, food, water and roost space.

The coop is built on a trailer and there is space below the coop, as well as space below the trailer that chickens can hide from predators during the day. I noticed they also use this space to hide from roos that want to mate, and roos who are a bit aggressive toward other roos.

We are going on 2 weeks now and I'm still needing to airlift them into the coop at night, as instead of going in the doors or up the ramps, they decide to roost underneath the coop on the trailer. It seems nice and dark and protected there, however, not from raccoons and other predators, when the sun goes down.

It's getting to be exhausting.

I heard that you should keep them confined in the coop for a while, so that they learn to go in at night, however, I am not allowed to keep them confined, unless there is extreme weather.

I've tried food and treats and they come out from the trailer for a bit, but then if I don't grab them, they go back under when it starts getting dark.

I've never had this issue before with a flock of hens. Could the roos be keeping them under?

The other thing I should mention, is that they got outside permanently to their new coop very late in the game - almost at the adult stage.

Advice needed on how to resolve this, to get some of my time back, and maintain my sanity! : )
 

BullChick

Wrangler
Premium Feather Member
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:frow While you have 16 roosters too many, that should not be the issue. The lead roo(s) telling the flock where to sleep is the key. Any scary things that happened inside is another possibility. A predator in there a week ago can still be making them nervous.
At dusk, toss scratch/treats into the coop. If it’s dark already, use a light. Regardless of how you accomplish it, it will take time.
I’m unsure what you mean by, “I am not allowed to keep them confined, unless there is extreme weather.” However, it does lead me to ask if the trailer has ventilation.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
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My Coop
My Coop
I'm an organic farmer with a new beautiful flock of 36 pet chickens - an equal number of hens and roos.

I'm having an issue with the flock entering the coop at night - a beautiful coop with plenty of room, food, water and roost space.
Wait, what...farmer or pet keeper??

Pics of coop, please.

Would help to now what your goals are......like why all the males?
Also how old are these birds, in weeks or months?
 
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MTR

Songster
Apr 13, 2020
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You need to get rid of all but two roosters. Your hens will be bred to death and your going to have constant rooster fighting for dominance. Really not healthy numbers. Of course they are your birds so do what you want but you will regret it later.
If this is your first birds in this coop you leave them penned up for a few days.
I also leave a light on in the coop until after dark. It helps draw them in.
Did I mention your rooster number is WAY out of whack (sorry I feel bad for your poor hens and more so as they age)
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
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Nov 12, 2009
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Oh my, equal number rooster and pullets s at adult age, that were kept in a brooder too long?

In the late afternoon, block off access to the under the trailer. This should make the coop, their next best option, and they should go in there. You may need to encourage the stragglers.

But I am surprised that near adult birds do not want to roost at night. I do think pictures could really help us give advice.

I am seriously hoping that you have an option for separating out most of those roosters. Or that these birds have complete free range in a very large area. Often times inexperienced people think they can go against proven animal husbandry, but it does not work. The coop is shortly going to be the least of your flocks problems.

Mrs K
 

Liz Birdlover

Free Ranging
Jan 6, 2018
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They like to feel safe & secure from predators, as well as comfortable, so I'm not sure what kind of weather you've got right now. They don't care for rain & they don't like a coop that's sweltering hot.

I have too many roosters as well but I gave a friend 1 for his hens recently, and I have separate sections of coop & predator proof pens, so each Roo has 5 or more hens (even that is too small a ratio, Roos should have 8 to10 hens or more, or the few he does have will get jumped by him so much they'll get beat up & lose feathers...then they'll need to wear hen saddles or Mr. Roo will need time outs to give hens a break).
My extra Roos are in the bachelor pad & get along with eachother as there are no hens to fight over & they were raised together. A few, even though they were raised together, still got feisty so I had to separate them. Roos have it wired in their DNA to be the flock leader & protector, so they can become aggressive, even with other Roos they grew up with. Your scenario, with so many Roos, is not conducive to a long term, harmonious environment.

As far as them not going into the coop at night, you need to figure out why...is it too stifling hot? Mine love their coop but as hot as it is lately, mine are perching in their outdoor gazebos, which are safe, the whole setup is predator proof here, so mine can stay out in their pens for cooler air.

If you can show us some photos, we can give you some helpful advice.
 

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Aug 10, 2020
193
196
108
:frow While you have 16 roosters too many, that should not be the issue. The lead roo(s) telling the flock where to sleep is the key. Any scary things that happened inside is another possibility. A predator in there a week ago can still be making them nervous.
At dusk, toss scratch/treats into the coop. If it’s dark already, use a light. Regardless of how you accomplish it, it will take time.
I’m unsure what you mean by, “I am not allowed to keep them confined, unless there is extreme weather.” However, it does lead me to ask if the trailer has ventilation.
I think you may be on to something! I have plenty of ventilation in the coop (two gable vents, plus soffit vents around the roof edges), but it has been hot recently, and I do notice them open mouth breathing a bit. My coop is a salt box with a high roof, but it still gets a bit warm, almost like an attic would. I think I will try a window fan for them. I'll need to install some predator proof screen on the window where I'll put it first, as we have raccoons, fisher, mink and bears that may break in.

I have solar lights I place in the windows for them, but I can add more to make it brighter for them.

In organic agriculture the regs are that you have to allow access to the outside daily, unless there is bad weather. : )
 
Aug 10, 2020
193
196
108
Oh my, equal number rooster and pullets s at adult age, that were kept in a brooder too long?

In the late afternoon, block off access to the under the trailer. This should make the coop, their next best option, and they should go in there. You may need to encourage the stragglers.

But I am surprised that near adult birds do not want to roost at night. I do think pictures could really help us give advice.

I am seriously hoping that you have an option for separating out most of those roosters. Or that these birds have complete free range in a very large area. Often times inexperienced people think they can go against proven animal husbandry, but it does not work. The coop is shortly going to be the least of your flocks problems.

Mrs K
That's a good idea to block it off. I only worry about hawks, as we have many that come by. They use the area under the coop and trailer to hide in, which helps a lot. Their lean to isn't built yet, but when it is, that will give them another place to hide.

They have a large free range area with a mobile fence. Soon they will be moved to an even larger area with many areas of cover, enrichment, etc. We can separate out the roos if over-breeding starts to happen.

The trailer is metal with a metal grate as the bottom, so they can grab it with their feet. I bet it feels like a roost to them, even though it's only a foot or so off the ground.
 
Aug 10, 2020
193
196
108
They like to feel safe & secure from predators, as well as comfortable, so I'm not sure what kind of weather you've got right now. They don't care for rain & they don't like a coop that's sweltering hot.

I have too many roosters as well but I gave a friend 1 for his hens recently, and I have separate sections of coop & predator proof pens, so each Roo has 5 or more hens (even that is too small a ratio, Roos should have 8 to10 hens or more, or the few he does have will get jumped by him so much they'll get beat up & lose feathers...then they'll need to wear hen saddles or Mr. Roo will need time outs to give hens a break).
My extra Roos are in the bachelor pad & get along with eachother as there are no hens to fight over & they were raised together. A few, even though they were raised together, still got feisty so I had to separate them. Roos have it wired in their DNA to be the flock leader & protector, so they can become aggressive, even with other Roos they grew up with. Your scenario, with so many Roos, is not conducive to a long term, harmonious environment.

As far as them not going into the coop at night, you need to figure out why...is it too stifling hot? Mine love their coop but as hot as it is lately, mine are perching in their outdoor gazebos, which are safe, the whole setup is predator proof here, so mine can stay out in their pens for cooler air.

If you can show us some photos, we can give you some helpful advice.
That is great, I love the gazebo. I have separate pens for during the day, when/if the roos get to be too much, but they are a metal mesh that I know would not be bear proof. So I have to work on getting something else. Haven't found anything from a company yet that I could purchase, so may need to fabricate something super strong.
 

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