Lost my first chicken, now hens and rooster won't go into the coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lapound, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. lapound

    lapound New Egg

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    Dec 3, 2012
    Kelly, NC
    This is my first time raising chickens and my girls are between 5-6 months old.

    Saturday morning I went to let the chickens out (they free range on our 2 acres) and I found one dead hen in the coop. Something had taken her head off. We figure it was maybe a raccoon or possum reached in (we converted 2 old dog kennels that were on the property when we bought it to a coop. The welping box serves as a nesting box area but they all sleep in there) and grabbed her off the roost and was only able to pull her head through the fence. We are working on a new coop for them and will be done in about 1-2 weeks. We have set traps to try and catch the predator but nothing yet.
    My question is this, since this has happened, my hens and rooster do NOT want anything to do with the coop. At dusk they normally would go in on their own and we would close up the coop before night. Now, they roost in trees out in the front of my house (coop is in the backyard, at the other end of property). Do they feel the coop is unsafe? I was going to replace the old coop with the new one but we wonder if maybe we should move the coop location? The new coop will serve them much better because it's actually a chicken coop, not something converted to a coop. We think it's strange that they all of a sudden they have started this new behavior, however, maybe Wednesday of last week, 2 of my hens started started sleeping on the roost in the enclosed part of the coop so maybe they want to roost at night.
    We feel awful that this happened but whatever did this did not get inside the coop, they grabbed her from the outside, so we know the existing coop is somewhat safe (we did move the roost away from exterior fence) until they get their new nicer one. I appreciate any insight. Thanks!
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    A death at night can scare them out of the cage, for sure. One way to get them to trust it again is to add something like shadecloth to the sides, to make them have the impression their perches are up among the foliage of a tree. You may need to lure them into the cage with treats and lock them in for a week to make them bond to it again.
     
  3. lapound

    lapound New Egg

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    Dec 3, 2012
    Kelly, NC
    Thank you - I kept them in the coop yesterday and will keep them in there for another few days.
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Best wishes with that. It can be frustrating when they roost outside. I used to tolerate it, but it's actually the first step towards them becoming feral, even though most won't go feral just because they're sleeping outside.... But some will because your control over them is limited when you can't catch/access them if they choose otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
  5. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Best of luck [​IMG] I had a large snake get caught in the deer netting wrapped around my chicken run. Although it didn't harm any of them the chickens were very upset the next day and wanted nothing to do with the run. I had posted on this site asking about their behavior and everyone who replied told me that their behavior wouldn't be effected by the snake, I disagree though and I think it's obvious that your chickens behavior is because of the predator attack. I think keeping them locked up for a few days is the best option for now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    lol! How can they figure seeing a known predator beside their cage wouldn't distress them? That would only apply to truly brain-damaged chickens. I've caught hundreds of pythons in and around the coops... The chooks do care, let me assure you! In fact reptiles attacking at night specifically is one of the nightmares chickens seem to agree on. It's a special source of high terror to them, nothing scares them as badly as that.
     
  7. lapound

    lapound New Egg

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    Dec 3, 2012
    Kelly, NC
    Thanks everyone for your insight. I too think the whole ordeal made them feel that the coop wasn't safe but very soon they will have a new coop and forget about it all (I hope!)!
     

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