Hens suddenly stopped sleeping in coop?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by katelk, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN
    I have a walk-in coop that is 6x9 and has sand for the bedding. The roosts are two different heights and neither is too high.

    For about 2 weeks now, 4 out of my 15 chickens have started staying out in the yard after dark and ending up sleeping on the lit porch of our shed. These same 4 (never any others) will still be scratching and pecking around the yard even as late as 11pm.

    What could have made just this small group stop going to the coop?
     
  2. SunkenRoadFarms

    SunkenRoadFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 11, 2014
    Maryland
    Can you tell if these four are toward the bottom of the pecking order?
     
  3. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN

    I really don't think they are. They are 4 out of the 5 oldest ladies I have (~1.5 yrs old). I have never seen anyone stand up to them. They will knock some of the younger ones out of the way for food or treats. Nothing about these suggests bottom of the pecking order. I have 2 ladies that are clearly the absolute lowest of the pecking order.

    If I had to say, these ladies seem to be the ones at the top of the hierarchy (aside from the roosters).
     
  4. SunkenRoadFarms

    SunkenRoadFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 11, 2014
    Maryland
    I'd try turning off the shed light, see if they go back to the coop. Chickens can be funny with their sudden behavior changes. The only other thing I could think of is lice or mites in the coop, though you'd think you'd see more than just the same four staying out.
     
  5. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN

    The light near the shed is one of those big automatic ones the electric company deals with. We don't have a switch or a way to turn it off.

    Can lice or mites even infect a coop with sand bedding? We check the birds pretty regularly for that and currently even our little roo who is anti-dust bathing is clean.

    We changed their food a little over a month ago. We had been buying expensive organic whole grain type food and switched to the best quality pellets we could find. The switch cut the price of feed in half though. I used to see them every day all gathered around the feeder at breakfast and dinner time. Since the switch they have not seemed rushed to feed. The price difference is nice and I know plenty of people feed basic pellets, but have I already messed up and spoiled them on the whole grains? Is it possible they are just hungry and waiting for "real" food?
     
  6. SunkenRoadFarms

    SunkenRoadFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 11, 2014
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    Mites can hide I small crack and come out at night. But if the flock health is well you probably don't have a problem. The feed could be the issue. If they aren't eating a ton during the day then they could be trying to fill up. Stick with it, my girls have protested for weeks when I've changed their food. Do they have a run you can lock them in? If not, you might have to out them to roost by hand as a reminder.
     
  7. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN

    Yeah I have been herding them to the coop before I go to bed. Lol.
    The new food has been around for about a month now and I am getting worried. I picked one of those 4 up today and it feels like she has lost weight. I am thinking of giving in and buying the old food again agh. So much for saving some $$
     

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