My chickens are really weird. Is this normal?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickenHawk12, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is my first batch of chickens, we got them as 3 day old chicks last May. We had 5 BO's in a 4X8 coop with a 8X20 run, and we occasionally let them free range in the yard (but not too often because then our kids can't play in the backyard for weeks!). 9 days ago we found one dead in the run in the morning, looked like she'd been there all night. The others have survived the last 9 days, and in hindsight I think she may have been egg-bound and I didn't know enough about it to recognize it.

    So, other than that, we've not had any mishaps and they all seem to be happy. But they have NEVER roosted. Maybe it's our fault, because my dad built the coop for us using some free plans he found, and we thought the crossbeams would serve as the roosts. I think they are too close to the roof and they never used them. So we made some makeshift free-standing roosts, but they want nothing to do with those either. They sleep all huddled at the door of the coop, heads sticking out of the door. Why do they do this? Maybe we should build a ladder so they can get up to the crossbeam roosts more easily? There is a giant pile of poop at the coop door because they all sleep there.

    Then, a few days ago, they up and started laying their eggs in the middle of the coop instead of the egg box. Why would they do this? Did they discover that there's a phantom that keeps stealing their eggs and are trying to throw me off by laying them elsewhere? Does this have to do with the one that died?

    I never knew chickens were so stinking weird.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    A picture of your coop would help, I would suspect that there's something wrong, do you have light and ventilation, a widow? Vents? Not all chickens can't just fly up to roosts, a graduating roost is best with the first being a foot off the ground that each a foot higher.

    Your deceased hen could have gotten too chilled sitting in the doorway. There's something is wrong with your setup that your birds don't like.
     
  3. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    Making the cross beams more accessible via a ramp may be helpful. With birds as heavy as yours, a ramp would be a good idea on any roost taller than three feet, to prevent leg injuries from jumping down. Most birds need to be "taught" where to sleep and lay eggs. Go to your coop just passed dark, when they all pile on the ground to sleep. Gently lift each individual bird onto their appropriate sleeping quarters. They will be in a drowsy state during this hour and will likely not put up much of a fuss. A couple nights of sleeping on the roost will resignate with them.

    As for them not laying in the nesting boxes, try placing fake eggs inside of the nests. Golf balls are great for this. Even a light colored plastic Easter egg would do the trick. Once the birds discover that other eggs are in the nest, they will find it appropriate to lay their eggs there too.

    Your birds aren't weird. They just need some guidance. :)
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Ditto Dat^^^

    Pics of coop inside and out....and your location/climate would help us help you figure out a solution.
     
  5. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I will work on the pics. The coop is up on stilts 3 feet off the ground. I leave the door open all the time, but there are no windows. There is a 2-tiered roof with ventilation space under each layer. The coop probably isn't more than 3 feet floor to ceiling (because it's up on stilts), but maybe I will put a ladder or something for them to make it easier to get up there.

    As far as the egg boxes, they WERE laying in the egg boxes, but suddenly they aren't. Do they need a refresher, or is something wrong?

    I don't think the dead hen froze to death. After the fact, someone mentioned being egg-bound (I didn't know anything about it), and in hindsight there were funny-shaped eggs in the few weeks leading up to the death. All the chickens are the same breed and I really can't tell them apart, and I didn't know who was laying which eggs. I didn't notice anyone acting unwell, but we found her in the run in the morning.

    And we are in the northeast. Winter has been a combination of very unseasonably warm (Christmas the kids were outside playing with no coats), to a blizzard a month ago, to a deep freeze (got down to 2 degrees with a -20 windchill.....I closed the coop door that night), now back to the 40's and 50's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
  6. DeedeesInn

    DeedeesInn Out Of The Brooder

    Hi,
    My hens twice all started laying in the middle of the coop instead of in the nesting boxes right after I had cleaned the coop and put wonderful soft clean grass cuttings in the coop. They clearly figured that nice clean grass was the best place for their eggs!

    The roost: maybe your make-shift roost is wobbly, meaning they don't like it? It's important to build a roost they like so they use it and don't sit on the floor (meaning in their own poop) in a cold drafty doorway. They like a stable roost, out of the draft, at a height they can get on to, with good ventilation.

    Good luck,
    Deedee's Innkeeper
     
  7. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG][/IMG]
    This is the inside.
     
  8. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
    Outside view from the run. I took a lot more pictures but I can't figure out how to post more than one at a time
     
  9. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
    This is a closer view of the ceiling
     
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Your coop is lacking both light and ventilation, it probably gets moist and stuffy and they are frightened to go in at dusk, so I would look to add both. Holes cut at the peaks will a circular hole cutter, then covered in hardware cloth will help. Then maybe something like a stump or wooden box to help hop up on the roosts. Come summer it will be too warm in there.
     

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