My Hens stopped going outside

GrandmaKatnip

Chirping
May 19, 2016
33
9
69
Minnesota
I have a new problem with my chickens not going outside and I am wondering if anyone can help me. They have been roaming our farm as freely as they wanted to. (even in the winter months) This week they stopped coming out, except for a short time in the morning. There are two factors that I am wondering could have caused this behavior change.
1. We had visitors on our farm who (unfortunately) allowed their children to chase our chickens around the yard. By the time I was able to stop them, it had gone on for about 1/2 hour. Could this have frightened them inside?
or
2. We have 'gnats' in Minnesota right now. It is a challenge for any of us to spend much time outside, due to the nasty gnats. Could this have caused them to retreat to their coop?

Thanks for any thoughts, suggestions. Please no negative comments about the children chasing the hens. Believe me, we are still upset about it.
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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I think you are on the right track on both points (maybe).

Possibly "safer" inside? Especially with the gnats - could be a little cooler and less gnats too?
Do you have a fan going in your coop? (some of us use fans)

The gnats can be a real problem it seems - I thankfully have not had to deal with them, but many have. You may find some helpful tips in the thread below - sadly the gnats were so bad for one member, their birds were dying.

As for the children...if it's been several days since this happened, then some of the birds may be a bit cautious next time visitors come around, but I think gnats are likely your main culprit.

Any chance there is a Hawk/bird of prey or predator that is hanging around and your flock is staying in?
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/gnats-killing-birds.1305726/
https://the-chicken-chick.com/protecting-chickens-from-killer-black-flies-buffalo-gnats/
 

GrandmaKatnip

Chirping
May 19, 2016
33
9
69
Minnesota
Thank you for your response. We have lost 2 hens this year. One when we were on vacation and our dog was not in the yard to scare away predators. All we found were feathers. The second girl unfortunately 'lost her head' to something. The predator left her body untouched. We really don't know what that was . We do have a fan in the coop, as it used to be a hog house with good ventilation. I wonder if diatamacious (sp) earth would help with gnats if they get in the coop?
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
36,704
51,629
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Southern N.C. Mountains
I would not use DE to treat for the gnats. Permethrin or Elector PSP as mention in the links above would be the way to go.

I would say most of your problem is the gnats - if you do have a fan circulating air in the coop, likely the gnats are not as bad in there.

Possibly, if you lost 2 to a predator this year - something may be hanging around as well. Can you put up game cams to see if anything is coming around?
 

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