My girls won't roost in their brand new coop at night...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BigKitty09, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    My girls had been sleeping in the brooder which was a rabbit hutch till about 10 weeks old then moved to roost in the grapefruit tree right next to where their brooder was, about 8 feet high. They were in the house till 7 weeks, then moved to just outside the patio door, then moved to around the house 3 weeks later, then slept in the tree for 1 week. I have just finished their coop ( I should have started a long time ago), and have put in a 2x4 (wide side up) about 2 1/2 feet off the floor. I spent all this time on their coop and when night falls they go into the grapefruit tree. Then I have to go and take them down and place them in the coop. Is it that they don't like the coop, aren't used to it, prefer to sleep outside???? whattt???
    I have put their food inside the coop, and put them in there every night and let them out through the run door in the morning. I haven't finished the run yet, but hope to finish by wednesday since we are adding 2 more pullets and will need somewhere to quarantine them.
    Here are some pictures of the coop so far...

    Here are my stubborn but sweet girls
    Here, you can kind of see the roost through the door.
    They haven't started laying yet but I hope they will get used to the coop soon so they will lay in their nesting boxes. Those are golf balls to give them a hint. 4 boxes 1 ball in each.

    Once the run is finished I will add more pictures, and pictures of our new girls. An EE and Blue laced red wyandotte. too excited!
  2. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    also, do you think it will be a problem that their nesting boxes are on the floor? : /
  3. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    Since they spent a week roosting in the trees, I am guessing that is where they feel safe. Mine young ones usually get confined to the coop for a couple of days, before I let them out to explore the run. Then they just return to the coop to roost, because they know it is home. In another post someone suggested adding a light to the coop at dusk and then turning it off after everyone is inside roosting. Can't remember the name of the thread. A few people commented that it has worked for them.

    Nah, I don't think your girls will care that the nesting box is on the ground. Mine is only a few inches off the ground and they lay inside of them. But, I would add a 2x4 accross the bottom and maybe a curtian covering at least half of the open space in front. They seem to like a bit of privacy when they they are hiding. The 2x4 accross the bottom will give them a little step to get inside and keep your eggs from getting kicked out.

    Coop looks great!! I think you did a fantastic job. Good luck with getting your ladies to bed.


    Your Girls are adorable!!!
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  4. BigKitty09

    BigKitty09 Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks Bootsie that was helpful! I think once the run is done I will confine them in the run only for a few days so they get used to it and are forced to go into their coop at night! hah. The curtains sound like a good idea, I will try that but will they know to maneuver in and lay or am I not giving them enough credit? The 2X4 also sounds good but I sort of already nailed a 1X1 stick to the bottom in front of their boxes. It will be hard to remove it... maybe I will simply add another 1X1 or two on top of it so it makes a better border. I am excited to detail the coop and run I have lots of ideas. When I feel like its about done I will create a page for it [​IMG]
  5. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2011
    west virginia
    Great looking coop:cool: I too have exactly the same problem, and I think I missed my window of opportunity, 5 of them are sleeping in the apple way can I reach them. I think if you get to them before they roost up there or lock them in early they'll adapt...I plan to corral mine and lock them in for a few days at least in a row to get acclimated. The other 3 hens I just move from the old coop to their new place and feeding everyone there only took a few days to like hanging out over there now.
    I also have a rooster that sleeps on my chair on the poach he was attacked by a mink and that's where I used to hold him when he was recovering....good thing I have 2 chairs.(lotta poop)[​IMG]
  6. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2011
    Milner, Georgia
    A curtain over the nest boxes. Are you kidding? What's next. A clawa cure with claw polish. I've watched Caesar Milan on the dog thing, and he says to many folks try to make dogs act like people and all the dog wants is to be a dog. Are we gonna do it to chickens. I've looked at all the coops and wonder if we build what we want the chickens to live in and not what a chickens want. After all they are chickens. But then how could they tell you to start with what kinda house they want?[​IMG]

    But on the roost thing, with all things once any animal has had it own way on sleeping area, they are going to have to be trained to use the roost. They just can't have access to the grapefruit tree. I'm with you, the run is going to be the cure.

    By the way, good job on the coop.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  7. HappyChickenLover

    HappyChickenLover Chillin' With My Peeps

    First off chickens will lay eggs in middle of your yard if they feel like it. Second off young chickens are allways dumb, they do not think of where they sleep, if its in a corner of some steps or on a branch. It doesn't matter to the young chickens. You have to train them, you have to stick them in the coop or where ever you want them and get them to do it at a consistant time and they will eventually do it on there own.
  8. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    Nope OleRooster ....not kidding. The term "curtian" is a bit of an overstatement though. I stapled some nogahide across the tops of my nesting boxes to cover the top half of the box opening. then I cut it into strips (like fringe or a 1960's beaded curtian). This was not an anthropomorphic action on my part. Nor did the chickens verbalize a coop preference to me. The decision was based on personal observation and documented research. The coop I made is very much like the OPer's. My girls had dug a hole under a 4" high platform that their water Jug sat on. They would stand in-line and squawk until they could get their turn to crawl down into the nest. It was stressful for 20 hens to share one laying spot. (I claim "stressful for them" based only on observing their pacing and squawking) Yes, some of them just gave up and dropped eggs in the middle of the coop. Where they were poo'd and stepped on. Crawling under the paltform to collect eggs was unpleasant for me. I did a little on line research and added the curtians to my nesting boxes. Any type of seperation would probably have worked just fine. To me a staple gun and nogahide seemed easier than a board and nails. The eggs are now in the boxes where I can collect them much easier. Just Google Chicken egg laying behavior research and you will find page after page of really interesting information. The first link is an abstract from the University of Oxford. If you ever get the chance to read the entire article, you should. Fastinating study about the extreme lengths hens will go to just to get into a well defined, covered nesting box both pre oviposition and time of lay. This was true of both Hens that were used to laying in nesting boxes and caged hens that had never had the oportunity to choose a nesting place.

    Here are several random links to similar studies and articles....

    I won't bore you with all the details. Basically, most chickens (79% in one study, more in the others) would choose a secluded, enclosed area to lay their eggs. Now HappyChickenLover, I don't claim this has anything to do with intelligence. It's instinctive, natural behavior. Yes I totally agree that Chicken's are creatures of habit. The act of Roosting in the trees was instinctual behavior. The instinct to avoid predators and survive. Just a matter of safety....right??
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  9. HighNDryFarm

    HighNDryFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 2, 2011
    Paradise, CA
    Gather them up before they get in the tree where you can't get to them, and lock them in the coop. On average it takes about three nights of putting them in the right spot before they go in themselves. They are creatures of habit....breaking some habits are easier then others, luckily getting them in the coop is easier then trying to find where they're hiding eggs when the decide the coop isn't a good choice....
  10. mrs_ed

    mrs_ed Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2010
    Phx, AZ
    Mine do the same thing! lol! built a coop, but I let them free range the yard all day and they started roosting on this chair on my patio. so funny. I need to start gathering them up and putting them in their coop at dusk. Ive been letting them do it thinking its just cute and funny but this obviously cant go on forever! [​IMG]

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