My chickens don't know how to use their coop. Help please!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by silkiemelon, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. silkiemelon

    silkiemelon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 11, 2012
    Washington
    So, just last week I finished my chicken coop, and moved my chickens into it :)
    But, we've been facing some unforseen problems.


    Problem 1.
    [​IMG]

    They can't figure out how to use their ramp! Well, a few of them have.
    But most of them like little Midna up there cannot figure out how to walk down it, or she's too afraid to.
    And NONE of them know how to walk back up once they've gotten down. I have to carry them into their coop every night.

    Any advice?

    Problem 2.
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    They're not using their nesting boxes!
    Well, I don't know what I was expecting, for them to just realize that's the place they are supposed to lay their eggs I guess.
    But I have 3 hens laying right now, and they never use them, I instead find eggs nestled in corners or outside in their run.
    The nesting boxes only come a foot off the ground, so I thought they were excessible enough.

    Any Ideas?

    I should mention that I have all silkies. Well, and 2 polish. I just didn't know if silkies do things differently or something.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  2. petejd

    petejd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My suggestion with the ramp is to remove it. They can get in and out without the ramp. I had the same problem with my chickens and once i removed it all was well. With getting them to lay in the boxes, I put 2 golf balls in the nest boxes and they started laying in them. I hope this helps..
     
  3. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Northern Colorado
    You might try making the ramp longer and not quite so steep. You could also bait them in it with some of their favorite treats...one step at a time. I'd recommend putting a lip on the nesting boxes...it'll help keep the bedding in and also keep any eggs from rolling out. Have you tried putting some golf balls, wooden eggs or even one of their real eggs in the box, and then plopping one of them in it? That might give one the idea and once one has it, the others will likely figure it out just from watching.
     
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  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That looks too high to me for a silkie to be able to get up without a ramp. They can not fly at all and mine can barely hop.

    Are they roosting? How high is their roost? I am trying to gauge how high up your girls can jump. Mine could not get herself into something a foot off the ground. I had to keep building her lower and lower roosts because she just could not do it.

    The other problem with a lot of silkies is that because of their crazy hairstyle they really can't see very well. You need to make it really really easy for them.

    I believe that they can master that ramp. I would take mealworms or some other really high value treat that you know they LOVE and lead them slowly up the ramp making them follow the food up. Be patient - they need to know they can do it and its not scary. If they really seem like they can't do it then make it longer so it can be less steep. Mine are able to climb a ramp that looks about that steep but is higher. It took her a bit to get used to it.

    They may just need time to get used to the nests but my guess is they are too high unless you know they are jumping higher to roost. Maybe they can't see them? With all silkies a few inches off the ground may be your best bet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  5. McGobs

    McGobs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 13, 2012
    you need to lock them in the coop for a few days. Don't let them out at all. Then open the pop door and let them come out on their own. They will figure out how to get back.
     
  6. silkiemelon

    silkiemelon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a good point. I will post pictures of one of my silkies up against my nesting boxes and roost for you to judge whether or not you think they are capable of jumping/hopping up onto them.
     
  7. silkiemelon

    silkiemelon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 11, 2012
    Washington
    Ok here they are:

    [​IMG]
    Up against nesting boxes

    And...

    [​IMG]
    Up against my roost.
     
  8. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    AHH! They are SO cute! I am so in love with silkies. I have only had two for a little over a year now so I am not some silkie expert but here is my experience:

    I don't think they can get onto something so high. The nesting boxes and the roost are both almost over their heads. If this was a standard chicken that would be so easy it would be considered too low but silkies are a different story.

    I currently have a bearded bantum silkie hen who is 9 months old. I previously also had a roo of the same breed who I legally was not allowed to keep but he lived in the coop until he was about 7 months old. Neither could have physically done that. Have they ever used that roost? It would surprise me if they had.

    I know a lot of silkies just like to sleep on the floor. I have a 2 x 4 that is on its side that my hen roosts on so it is just 4 inches up.

    This is the roost I originally built for her when she moved into the coop. She can NOT get on it. (Sorry for the extremely poor quality of these pictures but it is getting dark and I wanted to post these for you. The lighting makes my coop look scary :(


    [​IMG]

    This cinder block is the highest thing I have ever seen she get onto unassisted. (I usually keep a bowl on snacks here) She uses the cut out inside as a step to climb up that high.


    [​IMG]


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    This is my nesting box. She is able to get over that lip with no problem at all. (the door is off so I could take the pic - usually it has a third side)


    [​IMG]

    Here is my coop from afar. She climbs that ladder in the back no problem now. It took some encouragement in the beginning.


    [​IMG]


    I would try putting something they really really want - worms or meat or something super good on the edge of that nesting lip and seeing if any of them can do it. They might not be able to. I'm sorry. The ramp I really think is do-able though.
     
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  9. silkiemelon

    silkiemelon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 11, 2012
    Washington
    That's great information, thank you! I guess I'm going to have to build a little stair for them to hop up on. I guess I shouldn't have assumed they would be able to jump a foot off the ground.

    As for the ramp, I'll just have to patiently wait for them to get the hang of it. I locked them all all night last night, which I don't usually, and so they were more eager to get outside in the morning, so more of them used the ramp.

    Thank you for your help! I'll let everyone know when they start using their nesting boxes ;)
     

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