My chickens don't roost (and other issues)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NeuseWorks, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. NeuseWorks

    NeuseWorks In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2007
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    My pullets don't roost. They just...don't. They were born in early June, so they are around 18-20 weeks old. They still sleep all huddled on top of each other in the corner - she same corner of the coop they slept in when they were tiny gals. We've gone out there pretty regularly and put them on the roost at night. We even changed the roost to something that might be more comfortable. But they just don't roost.

    Also, they haven't seemed to have "found" the nest boxes and they don't seem to be laying yet. I know that this isn't worrisome at their age - they are in the "in between" age. I do check regularly for eggs, though as I'm expecting them any day. Do I need to show them? Could they be nesting elsewhere in the run or the yard?

    Also (gulp), we never fed them starter feed. Have I totally ruined them? We did feed them starter feed at the very beginning when they were too small for the pellets, but then switched over to organic feed, and I couldn't find starter in organic.

    Lastly, they have been loosing feathers like crazy! I've checked for mites and they get DE mixed with their food and spread throughout the run. I also dust their coop when we change their bedding. They seem to have a healthy number of feathers left, and the feathers they are loosing are the downy under-feathers. They look healthy, are gaining weight, and seem to be doing OK overall (although I don't really have anything to compare them to). We have had some super heat this summer, like the rest of the SE.

    Perhaps I'm just being an overly paranoid "mother," but any advise or insight would be welcome!


    PS: This is my husband's account, but I think I might just take it over!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2007
  2. Matt Berry

    Matt Berry In the Brooder

    Jun 1, 2007
    SE Michigan
    Don't feel bad, my pullets will be 19 weeks old next week. They don't use the nest boxes and the don't roost. Mine really don't even know they have wings, except for one. Well, one other one flew once, she caused quite a stir in the hen house, but has since forgotten her little feat. The rest will hop and thats about it.

    20 weeks is the average age that chickens start laying, they could be laying already or the it still could be a while. If yours are laying on the ground, the eggs could very well be buried under the bedding in the corners of the coop or somewhere else.

    As for the feathers they are probably just loosing their juvenile feathers and replacing them with adult feathers, pretty typical stuff.

    As for the feed, the only "harm" that could have been done is if the received too much calcium at a young age, or if for some reason your organic feed is not a balanced mix, then they could be malnourished. Again I don't think it is really a problem. It is time to start thinking about feeding them oyster shell, and or buying a laying mix for them. If they were born at the beginning of june they will just be turning 18 weeks old next week, and you normally start them on a layer ration around 18 weeks or at the first egg. Hope this helps
  3. gretchen

    gretchen In the Brooder

    Jul 18, 2007
    My chicks at around 18 weeks were all sleeping in the nesting boxes and not on the roosts. I would go into the coop and there would be 4 to a box, all squished in there... it's was very, very funny trying to get them out, kind of like getting a dog into the bathtub, they fought me with all their might! I found that putting a two-tiered roost (made out of a lilac branch) worked... I still had to "train" them by blocking the boxes...some of them kept to the floor for a couple nights but now they are all "in their proper place". I put the first tier about 2" from the top of the litter and then the second about a foot higher... it's kind of like a roost ladder, some choose the lower and some the higher, along pecking order pretty much. I would get two different sized branches, maybe yours are too big or too small and then try blocking them from their normal sleeping spot and see what happens.

    I would also put some golf balls or plastic eggs in the boxes, it can't hurt. My first layer knew, just walked in hopped into the nesting box and layed her first egg, jumped down and went on her way, like she'd been laying all her life. I now keep some hard boiled eggs in the boxes so the non-laying birds stay out of the boxes and keep to the roost at night. I'm also hoping to encourage the 5 girls not laying at 23 weeks to get a move on!

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