My chickens don't like my coop! What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Dead Diamonds, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Dead Diamonds

    Dead Diamonds In the Brooder

    12
    9
    19
    Dec 2, 2018
    20190210_101341[1].jpg
    They used to always go in their coop at night by themselves. I was doing the deep litter method by just adding fresh shavings on top about twice a month. But then I ran out of shavings and kept forgetting to buy more and I guess I let it go for too long. It started to smell bad and the chickens stopped going in there by themselves at night. I removed all the old litter and replaced with new shavings. It now smells great but the chickens still do not want to go in there by themselves at night. I have to scoop them up and put them in there every night :(

    It has a hardware cloth floor.

    Even though there is fresh shavings, just a few days later I pick up the food feeder to refill it and there is white fuzz mold on the shavings underneath the feeder :(

    My intuition is telling me this is the wrong design. The litter should be in an enclosed weather proof area. Because it rains a lot and it just gets all wet and nasty in there. I feel as if this whole thing needs to be lifted off the ground. I suspect the ground underneath the coop is now super nasty and is breeding bad insects. Because even though its new fresh shavings, there are still a few tiny gnats and other super tiny bugs crawling around.

    This is my first time having chickens. When I started this a few months ago in November 2018 I had 3 chickens. About 2 weeks ago, a few days after I cleaned the coop with new shavings, Penelope was wheezing/sneezing. I went to work and bought VetRX. I come home, only 6 hours later, and she was near death. Her comb turned purple. I poured a few drops of the medicine in her mouth and this seemed to make it worse. And then right there in front of me she started flopping around and died on her back with her feet in the air :( It was a horrible experience and made me feel like a terrible human being.

    Another thing I noticed was two of them had dark black oil spots near their comb on their head, which then progressed to a small bald spot. I'm pretty sure its from them scratching their itch. After I changed the litter, their bald spots grew back (new feathers with a lighter color).

    I suspect they are not eating as much when the feeder is inside the coop, so I put their feeder outside the coop and they made a mess with food on the ground around the feeder. A few days later there is white fuzz mold on the ground where the food fell.
     
  2. A_Fowl_Guy

    A_Fowl_Guy Crowing

    753
    4,180
    273
    Jan 29, 2019
    Newberry, Indiana
    How many chickens do you have? That coop looks too small for them.
     
  3. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    4,853
    11,840
    511
    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    I'm going to throw out a few things that spring to mind. One, you mention mold growing near the feeder in a short amount of time. There is likely more mold present that you aren't readily seeing. You mention sneezing and wheezing after you changed the bedding. This could be just dust from the bedding, but it could be that you stirred up the mold/spores and this is what made your chicken ill. If you can move your coop to a new location, bleach everything and start fresh with new bedding you hopefully get the mold issue under control.

    You mention itching and feather loss and black spots. Without seeing the black spots, it's hard to say what this is as there are a variety of things you might call "black spots." The itching and feather loss could be due to mites or parasites of some sort. Often they live much of the day in the bedding and the cracks of the coop and will bite the chickens at night. The chickens could know this and this could be why they don't want to go back in the coop. The below article is good for helping to identify parasites as it has some good close up photos of what to look for.

    https://the-chicken-chick.com/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification/

    There are lots of reasons chickens might not want to go in your coop, and I could be totally wrong here, but I'm offering up one thing to look out for.
     
  4. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Enabler

    11,445
    36,038
    1,232
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I would do a "do over" and redesign everything.

    Mold is a serious problem.

    If it were mine I would move the coop and bleach the inside of it then allow to fully dry.

    Since you live in a wet climate I would skip the deep litter, raise the coop 2 feet off the ground, out in a bottom while raising it and keep the feed off the ground in a very dry area.

    Your coop looks like it could use more ventilation too.Y

    What is the cord going to?
     
    SniperGoose, moniquem and Chick-N-Fun like this.
  5. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    4,853
    11,840
    511
    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    Going with what @21hens-incharge is saying. If the coop is raised then the air flow underneath should help keep it dry. A wood coop sitting on the damp ground is going to be prone to rot as well, so hopefully your coop will last longer.

    Since you said mold was forming under your feeder, also keeping the feeder and waterer off the ground my help eliminate these spots that seem to gather damp and are prone to molding. Here is a link to lots of feeder and waterer designs, but maybe something hanging under the now raised coop would work or perhaps a homemade PVC feeder (since pipes wouldn't be on the ground) would help and/or a PVC water system. There are a lot of good ideas out there.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/category/feeders-waterers.26/
     
  6. cleoandtheflock

    cleoandtheflock Chirping

    82
    254
    82
    Jan 16, 2019
    image.jpg
    Sorry your chicken died what was her name and what breed was she?
    Do you have more chickens then in the picture because the coop is small
    I suggest you make or get a new coop with more ventilation and space it will give you another try and you can make it as nice as you want with lots of roosts and nesting boxes and
    Also what is the cord in their coop going to
     
  7. Dead Diamonds

    Dead Diamonds In the Brooder

    12
    9
    19
    Dec 2, 2018
    Thanks for the replies. I'm pretty sure they don't have a lice/mite problem anymore. The bald spot regrew new feathers and they are no longer scratching their heads. What do you think?:
    20190210_114832[1].jpg 20190210_114955[1].jpg

    This is exactly what my gut is telling me to do.

    what?

    The other thing is, the food gets on the ground around the feeder, and this just turns to mold. It happened on the ground out in the open, with plenty of breeze. So I feel like I should not have the food feeder in the coop. Same thing with the water feeder, it just ends up on the ground around it and creates damp litter that takes a while to fully dry out.
     
    trumpeting_angel and Chick-N-Fun like this.
  8. Dead Diamonds

    Dead Diamonds In the Brooder

    12
    9
    19
    Dec 2, 2018
    The cord is for the light bulb in one of the nesting boxes. I stopped using it because I was told it doesn't get cold enough here in Austin, TX (the coldest nights get to maybe just below freezing)
     
    trumpeting_angel and Chick-N-Fun like this.
  9. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    4,853
    11,840
    511
    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    The bird in your photos has very healthy looking feathers. Perhaps she was just molting, birds get itchy when they molt too.

    I think a waterer with nipples will be good for you so that it can't spill and add to an already damp environment.

    There are a few different kinds of feeders that are "no spill" feeders. They are not perfect but will hopefully help keep spilled food to a minimum so less has a chance to get moldy.

    If you decide to move your existing coop to a different spot in your yard consider if there is any spot that is a little bit higher. Higher tends to have better drainage and be dryer in general.
     
  10. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    4,853
    11,840
    511
    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    I may have missed it, but does the coop have a roost bar in it somewhere?
     
    Chick-N-Fun and 21hens-incharge like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: