How to get stray chicken into coop?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Fionich85, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Fionich85

    Fionich85 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jan 28, 2015
    Hi, new member here with what I think may be a bit of a unique situation. Let me start out by saying I have zero experience with chickens and have never owned one before. Also, I wasn't sure what category to post this in, so please let me know if it needs to be moved.

    A few weeks ago a random stray chicken showed up in my backyard. This was odd for a few reasons. I do not live in an extremely rural area and none of my neighbors have chickens. I'm not sure where it came from. Being the animal lover that I am, I was actually elated with joy. I put out cat food (which was all I had at the time) for the chicken and she ate it up right away. I noticed that night that the chicken left my yard just before sunset and climbed into my neighbors tree. She stayed in the neighbor's tree all night. The next morning, she was back in my yard and I fed her again. This became a routine. I went to the feed store and got a full nutrition chicken pellet for her and began feeding her that instead. I also got meal worms. I also put out a big bowl of fresh water for her.

    For the last 2 weeks, she shows up in my backyard early in the morning and spends all day in my back yard. Right before sunset, she leaves and goes into the same tree in my neighbor's yard for the night. She has had this exact same routine every day for 2 weeks. My husband and I were so fascinated by her after the first few days that we spent last weekend building a pretty awesome chicken coop. It's 3 ft by 4 ft. We are also going to extend it to have an added on connected run which will be 5ft by 4ft. It's going to be really nice and the coop is already done.

    Here is my question... how do I get this chicken into our newly built coop? We love her and want to spoil her and take care of her. Also, according to what I've read, it's really not safe for her to be out on her own sleeping in a tree all night due to the threat of predators.

    Some things to note are that I have not been able to pet her or touch her as of yet. The closest I've been able to get to her thus far is about 3 ft. If I try to get closer, she will start to bawk and walk away, so I dont push it because I want her to feel safe and I don't want to scare her off. Sometimes she's already in my yard before I feed her in the morning and I walk out and shake the food cup. She responds by looking at me and it gets her attention. I dump the cup and she waits until I walk away to go eat. So, she for sure at least associates me with food at this point.

    Any help on how to get her into the coop at this point would be greatly appreciated. Or, if I should just leave her alone and let her be a wild chicken, feel free to tell me that as well. I've been reading up on chickens a bit over the past few weeks, but like I said, I am a complete newbie. Oh, and I was able to determine that she is a Barred Plymouth Rock thanks to some of my research. Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

    11,551
    5,098
    501
    Mar 27, 2012
    Vermont
    My Coop
    [​IMG]


    Can you grab her right out of the tree at night? When they're roosting is the best time to catch them - they don't move or run. Just grab her securely and make sure you have her wings pinned, or she might flap and try to get away. Then just take her right into the coop and put her on the roost. You'll have to lock her in for a bit to get her to learn the new sleeping place, although if you get the run set up, you can let her in there, just don't let her out in the yard. Congrats on the new addition! You'll have to get her a friend or two.
     
  3. Fionich85

    Fionich85 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jan 28, 2015
    Hello there and thank you for the fast reply : ). I don't know about grabbing her right out of the tree while she's asleep- that actually sounds slightly terrifying, both for her and for me haha. I've never even touched a chicken much less kidnapped one while she's sleeping. I would feel really bad because she'd probably think she was being attacked by a predator. Also, I would be concerned about injuring one of her wings.

    That being said, I understand that this may be our only option. I suppose I'll keep it in mind as a last case resort. Do you think if we did that she would be scared of us forever or would she eventually stop feeling like we're a threat.

    I really hope there are alternative options to this route. Do you think I'd have any luck with something as simple as lining the coop ladder with meal worms or moving her feeding area to right in front of the coop ladder?
     
  4. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

    11,551
    5,098
    501
    Mar 27, 2012
    Vermont
    My Coop
    I snatch mine at night all the time :lol: They don't even remember it in the morning. Some of mine that I didn't raise are pretty skittish (I am forever ending up with rescue chickens somehow) and I've had to grab some out of trees before when they decided they wanted to sleep there instead of the coop. Most of the settle down after you've grabbed them.

    I don't know if you could get her to go into the coop, but I'm certain you could get her to go into the run, if you move her food and water and treats in there she'll go in. Just close the door after she's in. Of course that would mean you'd have to get the run done, lol.
     
  5. Fionich85

    Fionich85 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jan 28, 2015
    Oh wow, resiliant little things I see! haha. You actually make a wonderful and very smart point about getting the run done. I'm surprised we didn't think of that. That seems like the best option. Get the run done and move her food into the run and trap her. I'm sure she'll eventually go into the coop by herself come night fall. Regardless, she will be safe once she's in the run because we plan to use 1/4 inch hardware cloth to line the entire run. I'm really happy we posted here because as much as we racked our brains, we weren't able to come up with your suggestion on our own. When I read it to my husband he was actually like wow, why didn't we think of that? Thank you!!!! I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  6. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,145
    249
    181
    Feb 16, 2014
    The Frozen Tundra
    I second the suggestion to just swatch her or lure her into the run and lock her in. If you grab her don't worry. She might fuss and flap but as long as you grab her with her wings pinned she won't get hurt. It's a little unnerving when they fuss but you won't hurt her. I understand what you mean when you say you're nervous about picking her up. I hatched my girls last year and I had never touched a chick before and I had to quick swipe the first couple babies out of the incubator.... You just do it. Then you've done it! Good luck.
     
  7. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,576
    165
    158
    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    I got my first chickens in March 2014 and when I first had to catch them the thought of holding onto a flapping, screeching chicken absolutely terrified me! I don't know if this is the correct method or not, but I tend to do a bit of a 'Snatch and Grab' with them. This is done under the cover of darkness, and I simply clamp their wings to their sides, tuck them under my arm like a football, and run off with them to whatever location I have selected.

    In hindsight.....hmmm, it does sound like a kidnapping! [​IMG]

    That being said, even in my inexperience I am not aware of ever having hurt them using this technique, and they seem to get over it quite quickly afterwards. I do agree with the other posters, however, that if you can get a run made up fairly quickly and trap her it in, that would work too. The dairy farmer in me then thinks that you should be able to herd her into her lovely new coop - perhaps with some assistance from a few volunteers.

    Getting her to trust you is a true investment in time. You will have to sit with her every day, talk quietly to her, be calm at all times, and offer her treats from your hand. I used to sit on a milk crate for an hour every morning and every evening, until eventually my hens would take feed from my fingers after a few months. They still don't enjoy being picked up, but the clamp and football method still works today as good as it did the first day I got them, so they are kinds of used to me doing it now!

    Good luck with your new hen! Any chance we could see a picture of her?

    - Krista
     
  8. Fionich85

    Fionich85 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jan 28, 2015
    I'm back! So here's a little update. We finished the coop and run and were able to very easily convince the chicken ("Klucky") to go into her newly built home. She made herself right at home and seemed to be very happy in there. She started laying beautiful big brown eggs after being inside her new coop for 4 days.

    Everyone recommended that I get her a friend because they said she'd be lonely as a lone chicken. So, we bought two silkies. They were the sweetest, cutest, most adorable little balls of fluff I have ever seen. I fell in love with them quickly. Unfortunately, Klucky absolutely HATED them. As soon as she saw the two silkies, she started doing this awful loud clucking sound and pacing her run back and forth. The night we got the silkies she refused to go in her coop, she just stayed down at the bottom of the run. Then when it got dark out, she started jumping up and down trying to latch onto the hardware cloth to get up high for the night. (She usually sleeps in her nice big coop which has a perch in it). We had to quickly improvise and drill a piece of wood on to the side of her run so she'd stop freaking out. She jumped up on the perch we made and went to sleep for the night.

    However, the next morning she started doing the loud screaming clucking again as soon as the sun was up and she was pacing her cage again trying to get out. Finally, I felt like I had to let her out or she was going to have a heart attack, so I let her out to free range and the loud loud angry "BAWKBAWKBAWK!!" just continued (maybe even louder). I started freaking out because I didn't want my neighbors to complain or get upset with me. She was yelling and doing the angry BAWK for 24 hours when I finally decided that it wasn't going to work out with the new chickens. Let me also add that previously, Klucky was nearly silent. She would make sweet little light bawks every once in a while when she was happy or if I gave her some meal worms, etc. But before bringing in the 2 silkies, she barely made a peep.

    I rehomed the 2 silkies to a girl who has a beautiful farm down the road. I know it will be a great home for them.

    As soon as I got back from dropping off the 2 silkies, Klucky was back to her normal self. The screaming and anger was gone. She was silent and happy again and even went in her coop and layed an egg while we were dropping them off!! [​IMG]

    So now I am convinced that she just really dislikes other birds and will be fine as a lone chicken. My husband works from home, so she will get plenty of attention.

    Now that I've solved that entire crazy debacle, I am here to ask a question. I am currently feeding Klucky a Purina pellet and also a chicken scratch. But she doesn't seem to eat very much and when I let her out to free range, she forages for hours. I've offered her broccoli, yogurt, banana, and apple and she wasn't interested in any of those things! I read that chickens love fruits and vegetables and table scraps, but she seems very very fussy. The one thing she LOVES is meal worms, however I only give that as a treat. Am I missing something? Is it ok for her to eat nothing but the Purina pellet and scratch with a couple of occasional meal worms? I'm worried that she's not getting proper nutrition. Any advice that anyone can offer in regards to what to feed her and her measley appetite would be greatly appreciated. [​IMG]
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    18,904
    6,317
    526
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    I'm glad you're in an area where she can forage. My girls have a landscape covered by 3' of snow now. Your gal has found herself a great home. The fact that she's not eating much of the layer pellets says she's meeting a lot of her nutritional needs by her foraging. Good for her, and even better for your yard. As long as there are no predator issues, and as long as she returns to her coop at night, all is well. Continue to offer the pellets, be sure she has fresh water, don't let scratch = more than 10% of her diet, and save those meal worms for when you want to work on training her, for example: getting her into the coop at night, coming when called. Enjoy those eggs!
     
  10. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

    4,553
    1,622
    311
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    Lazy Gardener said it well. I too wish to congratulate you on your new capture/kidnapping/rescue chicken.
    A lot of people would not have done the nice thing you did for her. She is a lucky lady.
    Silkies are a breed that sometimes do not meld well with standard breeds like the one you have. It takes a lot of time for some chickens to accept newcomers. If she is eating and seems happy then she is an exception to the rule.

    Babs
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by