Moving Chickens to a new coop, Will they go back to the old coop?


8 Years
Aug 10, 2011
Indiana, PA
I have some new chicks on order who will eventually move into the current coop. I have 4 two yr old hens who have lived in the coop with an attached run and now I am considering building them a new coop and allowing them to free range. SO my questions are:

1) Will they adapt to free range after being enclosed for all their lives?
2) Will they go back to the old coop at bedtime or can I train them to go into the new coop?
Yes, yes, and probably. They will naturally head for the old coop and you may have to do some bribery and / or placing them in there, even lock up the old coop, but they should accept their new home, given a little time.

They will love the free ranging, but may not be very watchful about predators.
1) Will they adapt to free range after being enclosed for all their lives?

Yes, they will adapt.

2) Will they go back to the old coop at bedtime or can I train them to go into the new coop

You will need to train them. Some are easier than others. I suggest you lock them in the new coop (or coop and run) for at least a week, then let them out. They may have been retrained to lay in the new coop and to sleep in it, or they may go back to the old coop for either activity. You may need to lock them up again for another week or so to retrain them.

If they accept the new nests but try to sleep somewhere else, you can physically move them back to the new coop after they have gone to roost. They should eventually get the message. But I just leave them locked in there until they understand.

Good luck!
When I went through this I found the chickens were very interested in my building activities. They were checking out that coup and the nest boxes long before I was done with it. It was like they knew what I was building and that it was for them. When the new coup was ready I let them out that morning to free range and when they were all out of the old coup I closed it for good so they could not get inside. The new coup was all setup, open, nest boxes prepped, food and water. I didn't have to do a thing. They went right for the new coup that night. Some things that I think helped was their curiosity in the new coup and the fact that the old coup was really too small for them at that point.

When I got new chicks this spring and put them in the old coup/run it was interesting. The adults chickens came around looking inside. Some of them even got up into the nest boxes. I don't think they wanted to lay an egg because they would go inside sit for a minute, maybe grab a bite of chick starter and then leave. I do think they remembered their time in that coup.
Thanks! I originally was going to give the 4 current hens to an Amish family nearby and start fresh with the new batch of chicks but...I think I will try moving them first.

We live in the country so predators are a concern but I am very vigilant about securing them at dusk and hopefully there is enough tree cover to protect them from the hawks.

My plan is to build them a coop, use the time while the chicks are growing up to introduce them to their new home and then the new chicks can move into the older bigger coop when they are ready.

Hopefully they will all settle in and we can have a larger happy family! Now we just have to see how my 3 Golden Retrievers react to the chickens out loose. Supervised by me of course!
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My chickens have an outdoor summer home, and in the winter they stay in the garage, so they adapt to a different home twice a year. They sleep in one of those Eglu cubes, so that remains the same, it's just wheeled from the outdoor run to the indoor run. On moving day, I leave them inside for the day, and make sure to be around the first night to gently nudge them in the right direction if needed. Generally, they're all adapted by the next night, so if they're out free-ranging in the evening, they know to go to the right place. They do sometimes wistfully seek out the alternate nestboxes we have in the garage though.
The new coop is almost ready, to save time and money I fortified my duck house, which thanks to a coon isn't in use right now, added hardware cloth, a "skylight" and a roost. Tonight I will build and install the nesting boxes and feeder! I did a trial free range with the girls last night and they all came back to the old coop at dusk so once the new coop is ready it will be time to relocate! And...the 12 new chicks shipped this am!
I moved some welsummers from their small coop into my main coop this summer. I moved them at night just put them on roost and they didn't fuss. Took there old coop & moved it away out of sight. For the next wk they still tried to go to bed in the spot where there old coop was--- even though there was no coop, no roost, no food, no water. The main coop is only 15-20 ft away from where their small coop was. After a wk of me chasing them to bed each night they finally all caught on! Good luck!
Thanks, I plan to move them the beginning of next week. The only thing left to do is put food and water in the new coop and we are good to go!

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