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My dumb chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ninabl, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. ninabl

    ninabl Chirping

    Nov 3, 2010
    franklin ky
    They have a nice little coop with a perch inside it. I even put some hay on the floor in there to try and help insulate it from the old ground... It's supped to get down in the mid 30's tonight and Ben raining most of the day. They are all lined up sleapin on top of there coop out in the weather..... Now what?

  2. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Songster

    Jan 10, 2011
    Durant, Oklahoma
    A trick a lot of people use is to add a light to the coop so they can see into the coop and see it is safe. Then turn it off when they are all in. After awhile they will get used to it and go in on their own.
    But for now, I would just gather them up and stick them inside and lock the door. I had to do that at first but the light worked for me and they all go in now without any problem.
  3. ninabl

    ninabl Chirping

    Nov 3, 2010
    franklin ky
    Good idea with the light. I will have to try that. They use to sleep in the coop every night when I first got them but decided they like it outside better I guess. I will have to gather them up and stuff them in there.
  4. florida lee

    florida lee Songster

    Apr 6, 2011
    I've heard this alot. But have never had that problem. My bigger girls go to roost in the coop real early , about 45 minutes before dark and the younger ones at about 30 minutes. I've never had to try and catch them and put them in the coop. they are locked up every night in the coop as my run is not very secure.
    I'm glad that I don't have that problem. the light idea sounds good, I would make is a dim light. good luck.
  5. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
    Chickens like to roost as high a possible and it is common to see a game chicken 30-40 feet in a tree with their head tucked under their wings.

    Chickens roost where instinct tells them they are safe. Remember how chickens evolved and try to think why they are avoiding the coop. Is the roof metal? Metal roofs are incredibly noisy during a rain storm. Or if an acorn drops on a metal roof the sound is similar to a rifle shot. Can you imagine trying to feel secure in those type of situations?

    Another thing to consider is the ventilation. Chickens like fresh air. Make sure the air can move freely in your coop.

    And believe it or not, chickens like a clean coop. Yeah, they poop all over but remember they evolved by roosting in trees. There is no problem with feces build- up when one is 30 feet in a tree. And there is no problem with fecal flooding when one can scout endlessly for snacks all over the place. Make sure your roosts are free of feces and mites. Nothing like trying to sleep with bugs crawling all over you.

    Another thing to consider is your roost poles. Make sure the birds can access the roost without breaking a leg-some of the heavy breeds might appreciate a ramp to the roost area. Chickens with clipped wings definitely need a little assistance navigating high roosts. And make sure your poles can accommodate the size of birds you have. A large breed bird might not appreciate having to balance precariously on a roost designed for a bantam. My Jersey Giants like to roost on a 1 x 6. They especially like the top of the nest boxes which were left flat. But when I placed a 1 x 6 board higher than the nest boxes they have slowly decided to use the higher roost. Like typical chickens they were cautious of the possible wooden predator, but when the lower ranked pullets seemed to be enjoying the new roost the higher ranked hens slowly made their way to the new roost.

    Don't forget flock dynamics when trying to solve the-not-wanting- to-roost-or-go-in-the-coop issues. Dominant birds might keep out the more submissive or the opposite could occur-the dominant birds might chase the submissive birds inside while they enjoy their outdoor freedom. Watch your flock and see if you need to add extra roosts, or take action against the bully bird.

    While you don't need to build the Biltmore of coops, us chicken keepers need to keep in mind how these birds evolved. Make sure your place is not overcrowded, have plenty of ventilation, and supply plenty of different sizes of poles to accommodate the various needs of your chickens. While adding light to a coop to entice them in might encourage roosting, watch for bullying. You'll see a lot of fighting if your birds are in a tight space.

    Once you feel your coop is perfect for your flock, start training them. I like to train by chickens from a day old on how to perch. Never hurts to have a secured stick on your brooder floor, and you'll be surprised to see the little guys trying to hop on the stick. As they get older you can raise your stick by securing however you want. As your birds mature you can continue to raise your roost. Years ago, I remember purchasing chickens who were raised in a small area with a wire floor and no roost. When I placed them in quarantine with a roost, they were terrified. At first I thought what stupid birds. Then I realized in their world that stick could possibly be a snake waiting to eat them. So I secured a roost to the bottom of the quarantine cage to allow them to check the stick out on their own terms.

    You can also introduce ramps when they are young. They love zooming on those things once they learn they won't get eaten by the wood. When they are raised with all kinds of 'toys' or 'obstacles' using a ramp to get into the coop is a piece of cake. And the hens raised in this manner will teach their young by example. Since mom was desensitized to these things she will teach her chicks by simply doing these things. Just remember to supply different roosts and ramps for the youngster to explore.

    When dealing with older birds-keeping them inside the coop for a few days will help. Once you allow them outside make sure to keep your food source in the coop, and don't leave food out free choice. If your birds are having difficulty navigating the ramp, sprinkle food along the ramp to encourage them to actually get on it. Remember, you are dealing with chickens, whose brains are the size of a pea on a good day, so you must be patient.

    One of my favorite ways to get a new flock used to a new coop is to feed them only inside the coop. I'll feed them in the morning in the coop, and near dark I'll give them food in the coop-put the food near the door and sprinkle along the ramp and the floor near the door. I remove all roosts in the enclosed area to encourage the birds to go in the coop. And for those who just can't figure it out, I'll put them inside after dark.

    Yeah, getting chickens to do what WE want them to do can be difficult. But sometimes thinking like a chicken is not a bad thing. Once our flock gets the idea the coop is a good place to be you should not have much of a problem.
  6. jjthink

    jjthink Crowing

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    There is a reason they are doing what they are doing. They are not dumb. We're the ones that are dumb, until we figure out the reason they do what they do, and then provide what they need in order to roost where we want them to.
  7. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Assuming your coop and the roost in it is adequate and accessible to them (e.g. make sure they have enough room to jump/fly up without whacking their heads/wings/bodies off of anything), then you just need to make sure they know that that's their home. Four out of five of our chickens figured the coop/roost thing after one night. The fifth took about a weeks and a few relapses to where she would roost on top of the coop instead of inside of it.

    What we did to break her of continually going on top of the coop was to pick her up and put her in the coop with everyone else before she got up on top of the coop in the evening. This often entailed putting her in the coop on the roost before the others starting making their way in. Once she was put in, she'd either stay as the others came in, or would hop down but not leave the coop (and then eventually jump back up on the roost with the others). Now, she usually the first one to head to roost, but does go into the coop and roost with all of the rest without any issues or need to put her there.

    Maybe she just had to be shown that the coop was a safe place and that roosting with her flockmates was better than sitting alone. [​IMG]

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