Hens not going into the hen house on a night

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by thethreems, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. thethreems

    thethreems In the Brooder

    Aug 17, 2012
    Hi all, need some advice with a problem we are really scratching our head about.

    We have 6 hens all in excellent health, laying, no problems at all. They have a plastic hen house with plenty of room with an auto pop hole. 4 have had lived this house
    for over 2 years and 2 hens for about 8 months with no problems going into the run when the light is fading then going into the house before its dark and the door closes. We have had hens for about three and half years now.

    They are free range but kept in a large run when we are not around but they are mostly out and about. Not one of the girls perches on a night preferring to sleep on the house floor which has equine bedding which I have always used and is cleaned out each week.

    But over the past 6 weeks or so, not all the girls have been making it into the house before the door is down, some times one is out sometimes three, last night all 6 were in the house but tonight just spent another 10 mins getting them all in, yes all 6, not one went into the house....Im having to check each night to make sure they are in as it starting to get really cold.

    We really cannot figure out why, other than the dreaded rats are really scaring them. We have always had rats (were in the sticks) but not had problems with them other than trying to get under the house, which as it surrounded with metal plates so they cannot dig under.

    And recently found out the rats really dont like digging in stone chips so have plenty around the house. We have rat poison down in traps and its been eaten (the girls cannot get to it) but not seen any rats out and about.

    Oh and the feeder is an auto stand on one so the hens feed when they like but I do put a brick under at night to stop any rats feeding as they figured (as in the rats) out if 2 stand on the plate it opens, caught them doing that last year

    We have foxes, and other than that those and rats they are the only predators we have here. However today I found 2 eggs eaten in the run, the girls rarely eat the eggs as I take them out as soon as I can and none are left in the house, never ever had any in the run before.

    So whats stopping and really spooking the girls from going into the house?????

    Any idea/advice would be most welcome as Im getting concerned that they will get stressed
  2. Suzie

    Suzie Crowing

    Jul 9, 2009
    Rats will take eggs...I've seen them do it here...and my chickens freak when rats get into their coop...that may well be the cause...rats are an ongoing problem for me too...where there is food rats will be there..at this time of year the problem is worse.

    I can't suggest anything other than baiting the rats with poison...maybe hang some treats in the coop before daylight goes...it may encourage you hens to go inside and they hopefully should overcome their fears....sounds as though something is definately spooking them from going in their coop...hope you find out the reason very soon!
  3. thethreems

    thethreems In the Brooder

    Aug 17, 2012
    Hi Suzie, first time the rats have taken eggs, Im very careful with the food and take the water away but the little critters do come and have a sniff around during the day.

    Plenty of poison down and its going from more than one place so the rats are eating it. And more chips (stones) will be put out.

    Hanging treats in the house is a good idea as I can use the perches which they dont use, will be threading some tomatoes which they love tomorrow and see how it goes. I also put 2 small battery operated lights in the house so they can see inside to entice them in which they seem to like, how soft do you get....!

    Then of course there is my new powerful air rifle.......strange enough I have just got as a present a target...which is a big rat....

    Shall let you know how it goes, cleaning out day tomorrow so shall check carefully for rat droppings.
  4. Bohemian

    Bohemian In the Brooder

    Dec 16, 2013
    If they have changed in the past 6 weeks, I would think your Auto door is out of sync with
    the new daylight savings time ? That's my guess.
  5. thethreems

    thethreems In the Brooder

    Aug 17, 2012
    Bohemian, that may be a thought but the auto closer has been used now for 3 years, and the battery's were changed in the summer. so could be a good idea to go and wait to see when its going down. Thanks for your reply

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