Misbehavin' chickens!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by csneill, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. csneill

    csneill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had chickens for a couple years. We live on an acreage & my flock of 15-20 or so have free ranged always w a coop & nest boxes & a fenced run where their food & water is. A few months ago my hens gradually started roosting in a large spruce tree we have in our yard. I caught them all a few times & put them into the coop at night for bedtime but the next night sure enough they're back in their tree. More recently my hens have been laying eggs elsewhere & anywhere but their nest boxes. What to do? I'm wondering about an intervention!?! Do I need to catch them all & lock them all up for a few days to remind them where home is again? I'm at a loss. Every day there are less eggs in the nest box & I'm sure there's a stash going somewhere... thoughts & advice please?
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Before staging an intervention, check to be sure that there is not a coop problem: inspect for mite infestation, rodents, perhaps even a snake that is visiting the nest boxes. Is the coop large enough? Enough roost space? Plenty of ventilation? Enough light for them to easily see to go to roost at dusk? No ammonia smell? General recommendation for back yard flock is 4 s.f. in coop/bird, and 1 linear foot of roost space/bird. The roosts also need to be far enough away from the wall so that the hen's tail feathers don't brush against the wall.
     
  3. csneill

    csneill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think I will give it a good cleaning first. It was 3 black sexlinks I added last spring summer that started sleeping out of the coop & I think the others just followed suit gradually?
     
  4. csneill

    csneill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And I have 75 sq ft for 14 chickens I have currently. Good ventilation. 6 nest boxes. 3 roost bars that are 6 ft long each- none near a wall. I installed a light last summer that comes on at dusk.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    How long does light stay on?

    After bug check...I'd lock 'em up for a week or more to re-home.


    Bugs check
    Have you checked them over real well for mites and/or lice?
    Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.
    Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
    Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.
    Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

    If you do find some...check out this thread:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1134783/permethrin-spray
     
  6. csneill

    csneill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok- thanks for the advice & links on the mites.
    They have a small solar light on the front of their coop so it comes on at dark & stays on all night. It's not really bright so maybe they need something brighter
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Not sure they need a light outside the coop all night.
    A light on inside the coop, if there are no windows, might help draw them inside at roosting time...but it should be turned off after they are roosting.
     
  8. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I only turn on lights outside of coop at 5am and turn off around 9am. No lights outside at dusk.[​IMG] I have a dim light in coop so they can see to get up to the roost after sunset. They head into the coop 15 to 20 minutes after sunset and eat and drink before going to roost. If there is a light outside after sunset they may delay going in and not be able to make their way into coop without a light inside. I turn off the light inside when I lock up a half hour after sunset. GC
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  9. BIggoMamma

    BIggoMamma Out Of The Brooder

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    If they roost on the same roost for 2 or 3 nights they forget about the old roost and will keep going back to it. Make sure there is not something frightening them in the hen house. Put some cheap dollar store garden pathway lights outside the henhouse to provide some light; this discourages but does not totally prevent nocturnal predators. Get a fake plastic bobble head owl statue and put near the henhouse. I have also been told by many to get a battery operated radio and turn it to talk radio and keep it on in the henhouse at night. The sound of human voices sometimes repels predators. I would lock them in the henhouse for 3 days and nights and make them comfortable. They may be getting too lazy to go back to the henhouse to lay eggs. If they lay an egg in the same place twice they are making a nest.
     
  10. csneill

    csneill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok. Thank you for the advice
     

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