Housing Transitions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by orrpeople, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. orrpeople

    orrpeople Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,443
    1,531
    221
    Jun 15, 2016
    Redding, CA
    Our laying hens are going to get new housing this week!! And, I know we have some rough transition days ahead. I have some ideas to ease them into their new digs, but as always, more brains are better...than mine!![​IMG]
    Here are the details. Currently three groups of hens (farm store variety: Orpes, Lorpes, Dottes, Rhodes, Eggers, etc 27 gals) live in three separate coops, but free range all day together (mostly - of course they have their preferred ranging buddies).
    We recently had a nice 10x12 shed w 8 foot walls built. I built and installed 9 nesting boxes and rows and rows of roosts and poop boards, all built to a comfortably roomy night time standard. (They're not spending the day in it.)
    So, now the tricky part.
    1st, there has definitely been some curiosity generated by this new building in their yard, and I've had my share of "construction supervisors!" So I thought I would just leave the big door (it's going to have a timed pop door) open, put in food and water - maybe some treats - for the next few days and see if anybody decides to spend the night there.
    Then, at some point, I need to lock their old coop/run gates and leave them with no alternative (I plan to be very available for chicken wrangling, should the need arise.

    Thoughts? Ideas? I'd love some input (or validation![​IMG]) thank you!
     
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    5,895
    701
    326
    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Maybe they'll transition all on their own with putting food and water in there. I will tell you that if they have not transitions by the day you lock up the old coop they WILL roost outside. You'll be counting heads to ensure you've carried them all to the new coop for the night. I've miscounted and lost a bird to predator in one night of such a transition and that was the same coop only in a new location. They are extreme creatures of habit and are in a tizzy with any change.

    Your best bet is to simply put them in the new coop and leave them in it for an entire day, two nights and one day in the coop. That's two mornings waking to the new coop then let them out. You'll have much better results that way. My last transition stated above was only a problem first night then all was back to normal. With a new coop and old one still on property I'd go two nights and full day locked in.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,950
    3,111
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Pretty much what Egghead said. With them free ranging together I would not expect that much of an integrating type problem with them all locked in there together. It’s a little tight but not unreasonably so. Do you have some kind of run around that new coop so you can lock them in that to give them more room but prevent them from going back to the old coops for a few days?

    I don’t think your problem will be them sleeping in there, I think where they lay eggs might be a problem. They will want to go back to the old nests. When you lock them out of the old coops they will have to find somewhere to lay. It might be the new coop or you might be on an Easter egg hunt. If you can leave them locked in that new coop for about a week, even with some extra space in a run of some type, even temporary, I think your odds of getting them to lay in the new coop go way up.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. orrpeople

    orrpeople Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,443
    1,531
    221
    Jun 15, 2016
    Redding, CA
    Great points....I can probably make a temporary run around the shed to keep them from egg laying expeditions. I may also extend the time frame of leaving the shed open for them to "check out" - maybe limit the feeders to that spot only, during the day (remove them from the other coops and put them only in the new space)?
    Would it be better to transition one group at a time, or should I just go for all of them together as planned?
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,613
    1,160
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Change is hard on chickens, so I am in favor of all at once. Personally, when I did it, I just put them into the run early in the day, put some feed on the very edge of the pop up door, a bigger pile a little farther in. You'd have thought the monsters lived in there, but sunflower seeds ARE sunflower seeds and might be worth the risk.

    It was not a real big problem in a couple of day. If you are without a run, I think I would let them roost as normal, gather them off the roost in the dark, and place in the new coop. They are easy to catch on the roost, and it won't be hard to do, when they are asleep. Don't lock them in all day, but later in the morning let them out. Lock up your old coops by day. See if they won't start laying where they should. My thinking if they wake there, and some birds will HAVE to lay early, they will see those nests as a good spot, and return there if their coop is locked up.

    Go down and open their old coop in late after noon, let them roost. That way you don't have to search for them. Then put in the new coop. I am betting by the second night, some will be in the new coop already. By the third night, most if not all will be where you want them, especially if you are a little later getting down there.

    If this does not work, then do the lock up for a couple of days. I just hate mine locked in the coop all day, never have done it.

    Mrs K
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree with the above.

    When I move birds from one pen to another, they remain drawn to the first pen for roosting for months. I'm not kidding...I can move a cockerel from the grow out pen to the main flock. Let them out to range (or he escapes) weeks later and I can't wrangle him back in the main pen for anything. but, just open the door to the grow out pen and he hops right back there. Or, go out at night and he's sleeping as close to the grow out pen as he can get. Not just little cockerels, same with hens that get moved for breeding pens, etc. They're very particular about where they sleep and don't as a rule voluntarily change sleeping spots. I'd just do it all at once and be done with it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,744
    5,505
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'd go with the all into the 'brand new to all' coop at once and keep them there for at least a week.....with extra run room to reduce crowding stress.
    Move them all at night after dark.

    If you let them decide when to go in, some may claim the new coop as their 'territory',
    then you may be back to a 'hostile takeover' kind of integration to get the rest of them in there.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,204
    2,175
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.

    This is how I'd do it too. I'm not nearly ambitious or patient enough to move a bunch of birds night after night. You will have to decide what works best for you.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. orrpeople

    orrpeople Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,443
    1,531
    221
    Jun 15, 2016
    Redding, CA
    Yeah, the more I think about the "all at once" plan, the more I like it. I have one coop that will be difficult to move at night, because its genius designer (um, me [​IMG]) decided to put in a cool "attic" roosting area - which they love. Sadly, the access to it is ridiculous. I may have to do a little dismantling today, so I won't have to do yoga to get them out!
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,950
    3,111
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas

    :thumbsup

    Don't we sometimes get ourselves in a bind!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by