I built it, but they won't come!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by wilsonloria, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. wilsonloria

    wilsonloria Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2014
    Tomball, Texas
    [​IMG][/IMG]My flock of Silkies just turned 6 months old. 9 hens and 2 roosters. (I found homes for 2 other roosters). They were in a small coop with an attached run until last weekend. They now have a 10 X 10 run with an 8 X 12 wooden shed with nest boxes and a nifty roost. I put hay down and scattered meal worms but only a few have ventured in. One hen has laid 2 eggs in a corner. She is the head roosters main squeeze. They sleep in a huddle out in the run. It's going to be in the 40's this weekend. What should I do?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It takes some time for them to adjust to a new home. Many people place their birds in a new coop for a few nights, until they learn it is home.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Lock them in the new coop for a few days. They will soon come to view it as home and go in there for the night. Do not let them out to the run maybe for a whole week. That coop should be big enough for that especially since it is still new to them.

    Silkies can’t fly. Some will roost if they can get up to a roost but some never do. I don’t know what the perceived benefit of that chicken wire on the roosts is. It’s probably not messing them up. I think they could manage to get to the top roost if they wanted to but Silkies are sometimes a problem when it comes to roosting. As long as they are not sleeping in a nest, it is not a problem. They will be fine sleeping on the floor.

    Silkies can’t fly. You might want to build a ramp up to that platform around the nests so they can get up there easier. Put fake eggs like golf balls or ceramic or wooden eggs in the nests to show them it is a safe place to lay.

    You may have a problem with that one hen that is already laying in the corner of that new coop. Once they get in the habit of laying somewhere they want to keep laying there. That’s instinct. There are a few things you can do, other than just accept it.

    If the conditions over there are OK, you could just let her continue to lay there. Maybe put a separate nest in that corner for her.

    You could put a temporary nest over there, maybe a cardboard box or cat litter pan. Once she is used to laying in it, slowly and gradually move it toward your real nests. Do it slow enough that she continues to lay in it. When you get it over to your permanent nests, take the temporary one away. She might move to one of your preferred nests or she night not. There is a reasonable chance it would work.

    I’ve moved hens from where I don’t want them to lay to where I do. For this method you’d have to rig up a way to lock a hen in a nest. When I catch a hen on her nest on the coop floor, I catch her and lock her in a real nest until she lays that egg. That normally takes about a half hour but I had one that took three hours. I normally only have to do this once but on a couple of cases I had to do it twice.

    Good luck. Looks like you put a lot of effort into that coop. It looks nice.
     
  4. wilsonloria

    wilsonloria Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2014
    Tomball, Texas
    Thanks y'all! I built a ramp to the nests, bought a nesting box for Betty (corner egg layer) and just spent the last 30 minutes capturing my sweeties and they are in the coop with food, water, snacks and a night light. I'm going to leave them in there until Sunday. Your advice is much appreciated! Lori
     
  5. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey Lori [​IMG]

    I agree, you have put a lot of effort into that coop; it looks really good with lots of room.

    I also agree with the others in that you will probably need to coax them a little into using it. Depending on your temperatures during the day (I am downunder where it is a little on the hot and humid side at the moment) I would let them use the run during the day but coax them into the coop for night time sleeping. After a few days, they should work it out for themselves and go into the coop at bed time.

    I had two Silkies (sisters), sadly one passed away and the remaining Silkie buddied up with a Frizzle. Up until she buddied up with the Frizzle, Tina and her sister used to sleep in a pile in the nest box; no roosting. Up until she was 12 months old, Tina did not roost.

    She does roost now, but only on the special little Silkie roost I installed for her, only 6 inches or so off the coop floor. She has no inclination to tackle anything higher or join her coop mates on the higher roost. Luckily her little Frizzle buddy is happy to roost with her.

    I guess what I am trying to say is do not be surprised if your Silkies do not use the roost; a pile of Silkies sleeping in a nest box or in a corner is very common. If Tina's sister were still alive and she had not made friends with the Frizzle, I believe they would still be in a pile in the nest box at bed time.

    Sorry, edited to add: This is not a criticism but a genuine question, I have not seen chicken wire on a roost before and would be interested to learn the reason?
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014
  6. wilsonloria

    wilsonloria Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 30, 2014
    Tomball, Texas
    Teila:

    Thank you so much for your wise words! I thought I messed them up by not having the room for them to roost and that is why they made the Pile O Chickens every night. I had broomsticks in their pen so they do roost about a foot off the ground.

    I hope they get acclimated and use the coop at night. We are supposed to be in the 40's this week and I don't like them sleeping on the cold, wet ground.[​IMG] Lori
     
  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Silkies' feathers are not 'waterproof' like other chickens so it is best not to let them go to sleep wet or damp; they may catch the chicken equivalent of a chill [​IMG]

    If it is close to dark and they are piled up in the run, if some gentle coaxing does not get them into the coop, once darkness descends you will be able to pick them up and put them in the coop. You will only need to do this a few times.
     
  8. Nyxchick

    Nyxchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2014

    I'm new to chickens this year, we have 3 black silkies. One sleeps on a roost that's about 6 inches off the ground - most of the time. Sometimes she sleeps with the other 2 who like to cuddle on the floor in a corner. Must be a silkie thing.
    I don't know how other breeds act, these 3 are the first feathered friends I've ever had.
     

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