Is it safe for chickens to jump down from their henhouse? And is my house big enough?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SeaChickens, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. SeaChickens

    SeaChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 20, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    Hi All,
    I am a nervous first-time chicken mom with four 9 week olds (a BR, RIR, Australorp and Cochin). They've been outside in their coop/run combo for about a week and a half and refuse to use their ladder. At first I thought it was too steep, so my husband modfied it to have a landing 3/4 of the way down so it would have less of an incline and he also added more "steps" in the form of round sticks so it would be less slippery (it was a 1 x 6 board with wider steps previously and pretty steep). They show little interest in even sitting on it or the landing which is odd to me since they love to climb all over most other things. If I try to encourage them to go up or down, they act terrified and usually do a suicide dive off of it especially if near the top, which is probably about 4 feet off of the ground. They're not graceful and I worry they're going to hurt themselves! The only one who will actually use it is the Cochin and he's a roo that I have to rehome so that isn't very encouraging. There is also a slight step down from the entrance of the house to the beginning of the ladder, could that be a problem?

    I guess my question is, should I worry about broken bones from them jumping down from so high up? Or just let them get down however they'd like? It is so frustrating to watch them all crowding at the door, obviously wanting to come down but scared to try!

    Second question - they really don't want to go into their house at night. I have to put them in one by one and then they all try to escape while I'm leaning down to get the next one. There is also lots of pitiful peeping and clucking like I am torturing them. I do it at dusk and they do seem to settle once they're in there for a few minutes but it makes me worry they don't like their house. It's about 3 foot by 4 foot with two roosts that are about 18-20 inches off the ground (they don't use those - tried putting one on it and she took a header) I put in a temporary roost that's about 6 inches off the ground and they'll sit on that. Is there house too small? Soon there will be just three after the Cochin moves out. Are the tall roosts too high or are they just too little to use them yet? I do have a 100 watt red light bulb in there for some supplemental warmth and light though they probably don't need it, just me babying them. It's in the low 50s at night right now.

    Sorry for the essay here but just want to be sure I'm not trying to force them into an unsuitable coop - probably doing everything wrong!
     
  2. 6869704x4

    6869704x4 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 16, 2009
    SE NM
    A question for you. Did you lock the chickens in the coup for a few days? If not, try that.
    We had to do what your'e doing with one batch of chicks that we couldn't lock in the coup. After a week of putting them in by hand they finally started going in on their own.
    As far as coming out in the morning just open the door and let them come down when they want to.
     
  3. SeaChickens

    SeaChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 20, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    I haven't locked them inside their house except at night. I'm afraid it is too small for them to stay in their for anything under than sleeping. They are usually locked in their run with occasional ranging out in our yard. I'd love to not even lock them in the house at night and just have them sleep in there and come out in the morning (the run is very secure) but if I don't shut the door they all come busting back out even when it's dusky / dark out.
     
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    3x4' is plenty big enough for birds that young, but only for 3 adult standard birds. I would leave them closed in also for at least a couple days as long as you have good ventilation inside the coop. They will figure out the ramp for themselves given time - try sprinkling a little scratch along the board to encourage them to investigate it. They are unlikely to use the roosts until they are older - they prefer to huddle together on the floor at that age.
     
  5. SeaChickens

    SeaChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Jul 20, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    It does have a couple of small windows (covered in hardware cloth and with shutters) so I could open those if needed. I guess I could try keeping them in there for a bit and see if it helps. Do you think I should worry if they jump down from the house rather than using the ramp before they get a hang of it? They're somewhat averse to treats right now (mealworms are getting a lukewarm reception) so I fear it may take them awhile to warm up to using the ramp even with bribes.
     

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