How to get them to 'bed' at night

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TexasTransplant, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. TexasTransplant

    TexasTransplant In the Brooder

    May 19, 2016
    Hi all, I am a first time chicken owner with lots to learn. I have 15 buff ops and 1 'mystery chick' all are 8 weeks old. We have a 7 foot high fenced area that is 50 x 60ft and keeps them in, but it is not predator proof from flying predators, and our coop is inside the fenced area. I have been allowing them to free range during the day and put them in the coop at night around dusk.

    There are lots of shrubs, bushes, small trees and shady areas that they seem to love and provides plenty of cover to hide under, but during the night it is way too dangerous for them to remain outside and I am trying to find the best way to get them to go in. We didn't build a run because we thought the coop within the fenced area would be ok, coop at night, free range in daytime.

    The problem is that they don't choose to go in the coop, they prefer to hang out cuddled together under the shrubs. I have been getting them in by removing any food in the afternoon and putting the food in the coop at dusk while calling 'chick chick chick' and they come running in, but they fight like crazy over the food and knock it all over the place. The coop is a mobile 'chickshaw' type coop with a wire floor and so lots of food is getting wasted. I would like to know if there is a way to get them to want to go in without having to use food to make them go.

    We are planning to build a new coop with run, but that isn't going to be ready for a couple of months.
    Any advice is much appreciated.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  2. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    Jan 30, 2015
    If you can put a light in the coop - even a torch, they should migrate to the lightest place, once dusk falls. Assuming they do, you can then turn off the light and close the coop. After a while of doing this, they should get the idea.

    Alternatively, you can put food and water in the coop and keep them in lockdown for 48 hours or so. It helps them associate the coop with their refuge.

    1 person likes this.
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    First of all, before you let them have free range, you need to 'train' them to use the coop. If they've been heat lamp brooded, darkness is a new and terrifying thing. You need to keep them confined for a few days. Keep them shut in the coop for 24 hours with food and water. Then let them out into a run. When they are consistently going into the coop after dusk, then you can let them out of the run.
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Start over, back to day one....Keep them in the coop for a week...Then let them out to free range...find a long stick or tree branch to sort of heard them in.....I would put up a temporary run to free range in so they get the hang of going in to roost at night.
    Chickens first need to learn the coop is home, a safe place to return too.
  5. TexasTransplant

    TexasTransplant In the Brooder

    May 19, 2016
    Thank you, I will try the torch idea first as we don't have a run, if that doesn't work I will try locking them in.
    1 person likes this.
  6. chicken87

    chicken87 Hatching

    Aug 23, 2016
    or go out there and put them on the roost and they will finally get the hang of it
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    16 birds and a 'chickshaw' coop....hmmmm...betting they are getting crowded in there and that's why they don't go in.
    How big is coop, in feet by feet?
    If too small and not well ventilated, locking them up in coop could be a death sentence in Texas.
  8. TheMallons

    TheMallons In the Brooder

    Mar 19, 2015
    As Aart notes above, do pay attention to air quality. That's a lot of birds in the summer. If the ammonia fumes build up, they won't go inside. Smart birds!
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Most coops of that style are A-frames. Is that what yours is? How much perch space? How far is that perch from the wall? If coop is covered with chicken wire, it is not at all predator proof, and they know that. That's why they are choosing to sleep outside, where they feel a bit safer. Your birds need 4 s.f. of floor space in their coop per bird. Hardware cloth, 1/2 " covering all openings, as well as a skirt around the entire perimeter to keep them safe. If you have not yet started your coop, you might consider re-homing half of your flock. Better to do that than to have a predator kill them. Coop builds take much longer than anticipated. My coop build that I expected to complete in 2 - 3 weekends ended up taking 10 weeks! Thankfully, I had a coop that was predator proof and big enough to house my flock in the mean time, but... projects always take far longer than anticipated.
  10. TexasTransplant

    TexasTransplant In the Brooder

    May 19, 2016
    The coop is 8x8 they have plenty of room and ventilation and they are only 8 weeks old, we will be butchering half of them when they are older. It is not A frame, it has a floor and plenty of perches for roosting space. They are only inside from dawn to dusk, they free range in an area that is fenced during the day that is 50 x 60'.

    Last night something quite amazing happened, I put the torch inside as one person suggested above, and at dusk 11 of them just gradually walked inside and started roosting. The others settled near the door and I just walked over and lifted them in, no struggle at all. Tonight same thing happened, they all went in and I removed the torch when they were inside and they just stayed roosting happily.
    Thank you for the advice, the coop is secure, 1/2 inch hardware cloth all around where it isn't wood.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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