My chickens will not get out of the rain, even at night

NHchicks

Songster
May 13, 2010
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Aaaaghhh. I've had chickens before, but they were never this *dumb*. They insist on sleeping in the open air run, rain, cold, whatever. The run, a 12' x 16' area all hardware clothed with roosts, is attached to a 4x8 enclosed coop with roosts, via a small chicken door which is always open. This group of 9 have been here since April, so they spent the beautiful summer sleeping on the roosts in the run. Fine, it barely rained, we had a drought. Now, however, it's rainy and getting to near freezing at night, and they refuse to get out of the rain, or sleep in the coop. They'll lay their eggs in the coop, they'll walk through the coop to get to their front yard area outside, but they won't get out of the elements in either the coop or in the dry dog crates inside the run. Tomorrow night it's supposed to be in the 20s. I need to get them into a dry enclosed shelter.

My old flock never, ever had this problem. They'd sleep in the coop, wander into the run in the morning, and get out of the rain by ducking under the roofed dog crates in the run, even come up to my doorstep and sit under the overhang. Not these sillies tho.

I can think of one solution: entice them into the coop with corn, quick block off the chicken door to the run, close the coop door, and leave them there for a couple nights. That might work to change their routine. But why, oh why, do they not have the instincts to get out of the rain and seek shelter. They will absolutely sleep on the roosts in a rainstorm at night, when they could go under cover anywhere. What is wrong with these 9 hens and 1 timid rooster? I ordered them mail order from a hatchery and I think they've just had the common sense bred out of them.
 

MarkJr

Change in America begins at the dinner table
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Jun 15, 2020
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Look at your coop closely for issues (too small? Not enough ventilation? Not enough roost space?)

Lock their butts in there for a few days, and regroup after that.
 

KarynVA

Songster
May 29, 2020
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That's a difficult dilemma, crazy chickens 🥰 Your plan sounds like a good one; that's what Id' do, as well. Good luck with it! I hope it works.

You might consider also removing the roosts from the run, temporarily, while they are closed in the coop and don't return roosts to the run until you've seen that they go to the inside roosts for night time.
 

NHchicks

Songster
May 13, 2010
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Thanks guys. By the time I closed them up tonight they were already roosting in the run IN THE RAIN when it's supposed to get to 31F tonight... I tried to entice them into the coop but they were in sleep mode. Tomorrow I will catch them when they go into the coop to roost, I will block off the chicken doorway to the run, get them all in the coop with fresh veggies, then close the door behind them. They should have enough space because my flock before was as big as about 14 and they fit on the roosts. These chickens have never once sat on the roosts in the coop. I've never known a critter not to have the sense to get out of the rain, but old habits die hard.... lol. I love them tho. They're sweet. :love
 

BDutch

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May 19, 2015
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Maybe it helps if you bring more daylight in the coop. Some birds don’t like to go in a coop that’s dark.

Another reason could be parasites. Did you check on mites?

But it also might be a habit. It can take several weeks to break a habit you don’t like. I had chickens who liked to stay outside the run after free ranging. One in an apricot tree and two on top of the run-door. But it is possible to break it. It took me about 6 weeks with the apricot case.
 

NHchicks

Songster
May 13, 2010
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New Hampshire
6 weeks? Wow. I was thinking maybe 2 nights in the coop would do it.

I don't think there's parasites in the coop because it's been empty for 2 years. I cleaned it out and put fresh shavings. It could be they saw a critter at some point in the summer, or it could be that it was just nicer sleeping in the run and they got used to it.

Yeah, could probably grab them and throw them in, altho they'd probably fight me on that.
 

BDutch

Crowing
May 19, 2015
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If you grab them at dusk when they are roosted its quit easy to pick them up.

What I did to get the chickens in the run around sunset after free ranging: scatter a few hands of treats (eg. grains/corn mix or a few mealworms ) in there. Its really a good trick to get them where I want them to be.

I bet the chickens will go inside the coop so you can close it. Chickens learn amazingly fast when there are treats involved.

I never had the problem that they wanted to stay in the run overnight. My coop is extremely light and airy with a glass window and lots of hwc. In winter I close a few openings.
 

NHchicks

Songster
May 13, 2010
548
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New Hampshire
Yup, I'm going to try the treat method this afternoon if they are not already ice cubes this morning. The door to the coop is plexiglass, and one panel is nothing but hardware cloth (I usually clear plastic that up when it gets really cold) so I don't think it's exceptionally dark in there. But I did get 2 solar lights from Amazo n, you stick the little panel about the size of a light switch on the roof and then fix the bulb inside the coop, that might work. I imagine it's not powerful or bright, but just enough. Still in the box, have to figure out how to do it.
 
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