How to encourage roosting in the coop?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chemguy, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've a small flock of 4 BO and 4 BR, all hens, about 1 year of age. Until a few weeks ago, they all went in to the coop to roost at night, like clockwork. Once they were in, I'd go out and button down the coop until morning. A few weeks ago I had one hen, the dominant one, who decided she would like to perch in the doorway (guillotine door). So I began to make it part of the routine to go out and place her in the coop before the door was closed. Fast forward a few weeks, and now I have anywhere between 2 and 6 hens that like to stay outside of the coop, mostly squeezed into the opening of the pop door or on the ramp leading to the doorway. I don't allow this, as I am sure that if I leave them out at night it is only a matter of time before some critter is attracted to the possibility of a free chicken dinner. The run is quite secure, but no run is going to thwart a hungry critter with time on its hands.

    Nothing has been changed structurally inside or outside of the coop. Maybe a change is needed. How can I encourage these hens to enter the coop at night, and on their own? This hasn't (yet) driven me crazy, but I can feel it coming on. Thanks in advance for any insights and tips. Some info below

    Age of hens: 10 months
    Number of hens: 8
    Coop size: 40 sq ft (9x4.5 ft.)
    Run: 375 sq. ft, fully enclosed.
    Perching in coop: 2x4 wide side up, 9 feet total perching length, two 4.5 ft lengths
    Coop ventilation: Well-ventilated (and properly ventilated)
    Lighting in coop: None (no electric)
    Feed/H2O in coop: None
    Typical enter/exit from coop: Enter at dusk, exit 30 min after sunrise (and coffee for humans)

    Ideas: Change roost configuration, find a way to light the coop for an hour or so after sunset (but w/o electricity to the coop), ......?
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Strange. You are sure there isn't something that spooked them? There has to be some reason they no longer feel secure on the roosts. Maybe a hen not allowing the others on the roost?

    Have you watched their roosting behavior at dusk?
     
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First thing to try is keep insisting they go inside. But your trying that. As to lighting the coop some use those solar lawn lights to light the coop for a while in the evening.
     
  4. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

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    I had a chicken do that recently. All the others went into the coop, and she decided to perch on the walkway up to the pop door. I picked her up and placed her on the roosting board. I had to do that several nights, and then she started going in on her own again, Maybe you just have to keep physically moving them until they realize that they can't stay outside or in the doorway at night.
     
  5. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, all.

    Yes, strange indeed. Last night, I tried lighting the interior of the coop with a very small LED flashlight hung from the rafters. No change in behavior, but I wasn't expecting a miracle. I was hoping for one, but not expecting one :) I'll try for the next few days to see if behavior changes. I have been physically placing them into the coop for the past few weeks.

    I'll do some more thinking about changes that may have been made. I don't think any have been made but then again, I'm not a chicken.

    There is one hen at the center of this. She's the dominant of the flock and no matter where the others are, she is always in the doorway. So, it is always she + others in the door, or she is in the door and others are perched outside. I'll add a dusk-time watch to my own routine to see if an answer can be had.
     
  6. funkychook

    funkychook Out Of The Brooder

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    hi have you checked for red mite? One of my friends who has chickens had a smilar problem last year they would not go in and roost after always doing so.

    A friend who is a chicken expert came to see her and found red mite in the coop. Once that was eradicated they went back in no problems.

    Just a thought but I am sure you have already sussed that out.
     
  7. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    SOMETHING happened, though you may never find out what. We've got a BR that seems to hate roosting....always has. The other four have been roosting like clockwork since their second night in their coop, but the BR is a failure. If it's a colder night, she'll be in the coop, but on a clump of bedding on the floor in the corner. On warm nights she goes for the top of the coop. Whenever we find her out, we put her in (and she stays in for that ONE night), but every night it's like it never happened and she's back to her old way. There's plenty of room and no one bullies or bothers her when we place her on the roost...she scoots up to the others and that's the end of it. Beats us, but so long as she's safe, healthy, laying, and happy, who are we to tell her how to sleep. [​IMG]
     
  8. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thought I would post with my findings. After a few weeks of what my wife and I call "chicken chucking" (picking up the birds, putting them in the coop), we realized that it was the perching situation that was at the root of the problem. There is a long and roomy perch (8 ft.) out in the run and they were electing to use that, rather than the perches in the coop (two 4-foot lengths). So, we now lay the outdoor perch on the ground each evening, about an hour before sundown. Everyone goes into the coop on their own, like clockwork.

    This is easy to do with longer days, when sundown comes near 8:00, but is not sustainable in the long run. This summer I will be reconfiguring the perches in the coop.
     
  9. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    At least you figured it out! Hopefully your rooster redo will be a permanent fix. [​IMG]
     
  10. deerman

    deerman Rest in Peace 1949-2012

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    pen them in the coop for a few nights, so they will want to go back
     

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