Moving to new coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Island Juli, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. Island Juli

    Island Juli Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2016
    I've got a flock of 11 right now, 6 that are just over 6 months old and 5 that are just over 4 months old.

    They've been in two small coops up until now, but I've got 20 new chicks coming Thursday that I need the small coops for.

    I moved them tonight at dusk to their new coop. It's 6 ft x 12 ft with 7 nesting boxes in it. There are plenty of roosts and they seemed to settle down okay. I'll forgive them sleeping in the next boxes for a few nights until they figure things out.

    I plan on leaving them locked in there over night and most the day tomorrow. I'll let them out just before dusk and work with them with a treat or two to get them back in tomorrow night.

    Question is, how long to I need to keep helping them in before they realize this is their new safe place?

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    In my experience, I have only had to keep new chickens in lock down in the coop for 2 nights before they realised it was "home" but it could take longer. Maybe just a case of suck it and see? If they return to their new coop after however long you think is best, then job done. If you have to round them up and put them in the coop physically, then keep them in lockdown for longer.

    All the best
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Did they normally free range together?
    You may have some integration aggression to deal with too...
    .....hope there's lots of room in there and multiple feed/water stations.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There is another way to do this, or you may find they still want to go back to the old coop even after they have been locked in the new coop for a while if the old coop is available where they normally free range. Just lock up the old coop so they cannot go in there. They will almost certainly try sleeping somewhere very close to it. After dark, just pick them up and lock them in the new coop. They may catch on very quickly, they may take a while. That’s the way I move mine from the grow-out coop to the main coop. A lot of the time I only have to do this once but I have had a few go three or four nights. This is after they have been free ranging together but in separate flocks in the same territory for a few weeks.

    Your coop sounds like a decent size for that many birds but monitor the situation for a few days. Be down there pretty early the first few days to see how much drama is going on. There is a decent chance things will be fine but if it gets too rough just let them out and keep moving them in at night until they settle in.

    This is all assuming they have been free ranging together during the day. If they have not, then I’d absolutely be down there before they wake up every day until I had confidence they are getting along. I don’t know if you have runs associated with those coops. You might need to use those to help manage integration.

    With some over six months if you don’t have some laying already it probably won’t be long. I would not want to have my nests locked up when they are awake. I don’t like training them to lay somewhere that is not my nests. But you really don’t want them to make a habit of sleeping in the nests. They poop a lot all the time but at night they are not moving around so the poop can build up. You do not want poopy eggs. This may turn out to be more frustrating for you than actual integration.

    One thing you can do is to lock those nests up after they have laid but before they put themselves to bed, then open them back up in the morning before they lay. That requires you to be down there pretty early every day. This should train them to look somewhere else to sleep, which hopefully will be your roosts. Once they are in the habit of sleeping somewhere else you can relax about this.

    But there is a potential problem. Your 4 month olds will almost certainly be afraid of the 6 month olds. The older birds will outrank the younger in the pecking order and just might not want to share the main roosts with them. On occasion, they can be pretty brutal about that. You say you have plenty of roosts. I hope you have sufficient and they are spread out enough so they can all get along up there. I integrate younger birds with my adult flock a lot and I have lots of roost space if you go by inches per bird. But I had this problem so often that I put up an additional roost lower than the main roosts, separated horizontally a few feet, and higher than the nests to give the juveniles a safe place to go that is not my nests. You may not have this problem at all, I hope not. But if you do, maybe this is a potential solution.

    Normally my pullets fully integrate with the older birds about when they start to lay. Until then they form separate sub-flocks, not really mixing that much, even if there is no violence or pecking directed at them. They do sleep in the same coop. I have five pullets that should start laying any day still using that juvenile roost. I have a rooster and seven hens on over 16 feet of main roosts. That’s over 14” per bird and it’s not enough.

    Often this type of stuff goes so smoothly you wonder what all the worry and warning was about, but sometimes chickens die from this stuff. Don’t expect serious problems but it’s best to be prepared if something does happen.

    Good luck!
  5. Island Juli

    Island Juli Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2016
    Thanks for all the information. They have been free ranging together for a couple of months as separate flocks. They get along for the most part, just a few pecks to put the younger in their place occasionally.

    I don't plan on locking them in forever, just until they know where to go.

    They are all much calmer now that I got rid of a mean rooster. He attacked me several times and was making a couple of my ladies bald. Feathers are already growing back in.
  6. Island Juli

    Island Juli Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2016
    Update - 2 nights of luring in with mealworms and locking them. Tonight, all in and settled by themselves. Yeah!

    Picked up my 20 new 3-day-olds this morning. 8 BRs and 12 golden sex-links. They are in the brooder and settling in nicely. They run for a few moments to the heat lamp and them out to get food and water and then back under the light for a few moments. They did seem to be scratching a lot when they first got here, but that has subsided, but I'll keep checking for mites.

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