Hens suddenly sleeping on the ground outside...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Maisie1, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Maisie1

    Maisie1 In the Brooder

    Jun 26, 2011
    Madison, WI
    My four 9-month-old pullets have always slept on the roosts in their small elevated henhouse...until about 4 nights ago. I came home after dark to find the pophole to their house had been closed (probably by my 3-year-old), so they had been shut out of their house and were huddled in the wood chips in their tiny attached run. I opened the pophole door, expecting them to make a beeline up the ramp into the house, but no dice. They were fully awake, just looking at me...I figured they'd go in when they were ready, so I went to bed after locking the run door. Next AM I discovered they had never been in--no poop on the house floor. Fine. Maybe they were comfy where they were. However, they have slept on the ground in the run ever since (for the last 3 nights), even though the pophole has been open. What gives? Did they just suddenly decide they liked sleeping outside better? The weather here has been extremely warm for March (between 75-80 degrees during the day), but the house is well ventilated. It is tiny, however, and as such did keep them warm during the freezing winter temps, but are they just too large to be comfortable in there now? Do they enjoy the breeze? There are two roosts and two nestboxes inside, so it's cozy but not suffocating. I find it hard to believe that it's mites, but I've seen ants in the yard already, so who knows. They were raised together from chickhood, so they've slept in a fluffy pile before and seemed content, so should I just not worry? They are safe in the mini-run from any predators we might have. Sorry for the lengthy description, but it's just WEIRD. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Mites was the first thing that came to mind, but you've thought of that already.

    Perhaps they just quickly developed a new behavior pattern after getting locked out, and are now in that groove. You know how chickens are. After checking the coop for rats, snakes and mites, you may need to re-pattern them to the coop by confining them for a couple days.
  3. velittlechik

    velittlechik Chirping

    Apr 9, 2009
    Idabel, OK
    You know I have one of my hens that is doing something similar out of the blue. We have a large shed that they have all been roosting in and one of my chickens started going over to the smaller coop that doesn't have a roost in it at the moment and she sleeps in the nesting box. Only one night out of the last two weeks has she gone in the other shed and I think she got kind of stuck there because of horrendous rain we had. We don't know what is up with her but she comes out every morning and joins the rest like normal. My husband thinks I should make her go in with the others but I figure she has her reasons! Nothing is wrong with her and she goes to the shed to lay, I think it is weird too!
  4. Fierlin1182

    Fierlin1182 powered-flight

    Aug 26, 2011
    Chickens do strange things without obvious explanations sometimes. :lol: I've had my flock sometimes just crash outside the coop because they've seen a scary plant near the door entrance.

    Anyhow, if you've checked for mites and predators and there seems to be nothing particular deterring them from sleeping inside, it's probably just a fetish or new habit they're going through. If you want them in the coop, put the chickens inside and they'll hopefully settle back into their old routine. Good luck!
  5. Maisie1

    Maisie1 In the Brooder

    Jun 26, 2011
    Madison, WI
    Thank you all for your input! A couple of days after my initial post, 3 of my 4 hens began roosting OUTSIDE the coop altogether, on top of two stacked milk crates that were sitting nearby. My Buff Orpington, Edith, was the only one who'd go inside like a normal chicken (I think only 3 could squeeze onto the top of the crate anyway). So obviously I had to physically place them inside the coop, because it's not safe to let them just sleep out under the stars! Last night we "unstacked" the crates and they decided to sleep on the ground inside the run again (the crates weren't high enough, I guess...). Except for good old Edith, who roosted up in the henhouse like they all used to. So I'm not really worried, just puzzled. Crazy birds! Thanks again! I appreciate the reassurance.

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