How do I encourage the girls to spend more time outside?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by LestersFlat, May 17, 2011.

  1. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2011
    Schuyler Lake NY
    Hi! I just joined this forum today. My DH and I just picked up our first chickens 2 days ago. We got 4 silver laced wyandottes, and 3 mixed reds. I am not sure of their age, but they all still have some downy feathers. We are in upstate NY, and have heard that these breeds winter well, which is important here in the North Country.

    My biggest problem so far is that the girls like their coop a bit too much. When I figure out how to upload a photo, you will see why. It is a lovely old shed with 8-ft ceilings, 2 doors and 5 big windows. We are on 22 acres, but maybe only 4 or 5 of them would be accessible to the chickens. To start with, we made a fenced area behind the coop that is about 10' x 50'. We hope to eventually let them free range during the day, and lock them up in the coop at night as protection. But for now, we need to protect them during the day from our 2 labs who never met a chicken before...

    Aside from putting one of the feeders outside, is there any way to encourage them to come out and play? I heard that wild birds will get used to using the feeder, and that is bad for my birds. Should I just be more patient and let them find their way out there in time?

    I have also tried carrying them outside. The 3 red girls will allow me to pick them up and carry them out. They poke around, eat a few blades of grass, then high-tail it back in there after only a minute or 2. The B&W ones won't let me come anywhere near them to pick them up, but they will run outside and stay out there briefly when I come in the coop. They even had their first dirt bath yesterday, all 4 of them together.

    Just looking for some advice.
     
  2. E.G.Glayer

    E.G.Glayer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 29, 2009
    Blanchester OH
    They will come out. Just leave an access door open and they will venture out when they are ready. They just need time to get used to their new surroundings and then they will be all over the place. Sometimes it can take several days for them to get accustomed. Dont Worry.[​IMG]
     
  3. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2011
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    We leave the one human-size door open all day, and close it up at night. Is there any good reason to close this and make a pop-door just for the chickens?
     
  4. BlueBetween

    BlueBetween Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 4, 2011
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    they sounds really young still, mine are older than that and still in a brooder box. We take them outside to a little penned area for an hour at the most and then they get cold, and if they could, they would probably run back to the house because everything scares them... but they'll get braver as they get used to it all. I'm amazed at how good their instincts are, even with no mother to show them the ropes.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    The first two benefits of a pop door that "popped" into my head are: In winter time, a smaller door lets in a LOT less cold air/wind, and an open people sized door invites much more in that a pop door. For example, I know daggone well that both of my dogs (which are chicken friendly) would be inside the coop (snooping after eggs, eating chicken poop and chicken food, etc.) if I left my people door open. They don't go through the pop door (although they will stick their noses through... [​IMG]

    Added to the "less cold air/wind" thing - a pop door is much easier to put a wind break in front of than a people door. A bale of straw, a board leaned against the wall side, etc. make great winter wind breaks for a pop door.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  6. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2011
    Schuyler Lake NY
    Funny you mentioned the brooder box...we have nest boxes, things to roost on, things to hide behind, straw all over the floor, and guess where they sleep at night? There's an old plastic gardener's wagon with a space barely big enough for all of them, and they all jump in there by about 6 pm. During the day, the B&W ones beat up on the reds, which are a bit smaller, but at night they are all huddled up against one another and happy for each other's warmth. Very cute...
     
  7. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2011
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    That is a good reason for the pop door. We'll have to get one in before winter.
     
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    They sound like they will be great fun to watch, as they get more accustomed to each other and their environment.

    I wouldn't let them sleep in the nest boxes, though, if they should start that. Leads to poopy eggs.

    Have fun!
     

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