Hens not going to bed at night.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by reebs, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. reebs

    reebs Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2012
    I've got two hens that are about 9 months old, a Barred Rock and a Black Star (The General and Nugget). I live in Seattle where nights have been in the low 40's. For about the last two weeks, most nights, they have chosen to sleep on the roost in their outdoor run instead of in the "house" part of the coop. We supplement light, but only in the mornings (currently have a heat lamp in, after a cold snap earlier in Jan, could go back to a florescent). For about 5 nights I put them back in the house before I went to bed (9ish). It gets dark here by 5:30 or so. One of those nights they turned around and came back outside.

    My husband mucked out the house, and put in all new wood chips. They are still going inside to lay, and are still laying at the same rate (10-12 eggs a week from the pair). They also go in and out at will during the day.

    They get free range time of about 2-4 hours a day.

    What else could be going on? It doesn't seem like a big deal right now when our nights are fairly warm, but I'm worried if we have a cold snap. I could put them to bed when I get home from work (6:30 or 7) and lock them in, and then let them out in the morning (about 7).

    Any clue what this could be?
     
  2. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Did they ever regularly go into the coop at night? lay their eggs there? do they have a roosting bar in the "house" part of the coop?

    First thought is check them for mites. Mites are active at night and come out of the wood work to feast on sleeping chickens. Sometimes chickens are "afraid" to go into the coop because it's so dang uncomfortable with hungry mites doing a Nosferatu on them all night long.

    If you're able to lock them in the coop at night do so then come back a little while later with a flash light and look at the perch. Mites are tiny but noticeable, small, black/dark red and round. You can find them on the chicken too. Best places to look are just under their vent, under their wings and around their neck -- go thru the feathers until you can see their skin.

    If it's not mites, maybe there is another night time visitor that has spooked them like a rat or a cat.

    What time do you turn off the light in the coop?
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  3. reebs

    reebs Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2012
    Thanks for your help problem solving.

    The light goes on at 6am and off at 9am. So they get a sunset at sunset time (around 5 today) provided by nature. It can be gloomy here, so the sunset can be subtle.

    They have slept in the "house" part of the coop since we moved them into it last summer. They slept in the nesting box (on top of each other) for a while, then learned to use the perches in there. They still lay in the nesting box. And are laying regularly.

    When my husband mucked out the coop last week he put in fresh pine and DE. He also checked their legs and vents and couldn't see anything. I will check again, next time I'm home in daylight.

    We have a 6 foot fence around the yard, and the chicken coop is "predator proof" with hardware cloth on all the sides (including the floor) that aren't the wood of the "house" or roof. We also have about 4 inches of gravel in the bottom of the outdoor parts. So it is unlikely a predator got into the coop. We have seen raccoons in the yard, but not for a few months.
     
  4. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm in Western WA so I completely know what you're talking about with weather, temps and day light. [​IMG] Ok, probably no predators (and kudos on going thru the expense of making their coop safe for them!).

    So you leave the light on all night long? Is that right? When did you start doing that?
     
  5. reebs

    reebs Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2012
    No, the light is only on in the morning, from 6amto 9am to give them an early "sunrise" and keep them laying. Otherwise, the coop is dark at night-- or as dark as any urban back-yard.
     
  6. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    OK. Just wanted to make sure it wasn't 6am until the next day.

    If it's not mites, check their feet, make sure the perch material isn't causing them any discomfort. Then something spooking them or a change made to the coop that they don't like might be the issue. Are they in a spot where activity by a neighbor could affect them?
     
  7. reebs

    reebs Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2012
    My husband checked they very carefully for mites yesterday and found nothing.

    The neighbor's back-door light does seem to shine toward the coop, but it has the whole 9 months they've been back there, so that shouldn't be a change.

    Perhaps we will take down the outdoor roost, and see if that gets them back in the coop. It's still warm at night, but we will likely have a cold snap again before spring truly comes.
     
  8. Bellurd

    Bellurd Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 17, 2012
    Woodland Hills, Ca
    My EE's roosted inside their tractor until they were about 8 or 9 months old, then slowly more and more of them started sleeping on TOP of it. If I tried to put them back inside, they would just instantly walk back out and try to get back on top. I guess they just preferred it up there. Now they have a huge new coop and even after locking them up in it for 3 weeks, I still have one stubborn chicken who likes to sleep on top of the new coop. Even if it's 30 degrees and raining.
    Is their roost in the outside part higher than the one inside?
     

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