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mystery behaviour

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Sheila66, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. Sheila66

    Sheila66 New Egg

    Aug 13, 2013
    I had 2 mature Welsummers and then acquired 3 in-lay Warrens. They were kept in adjacent, very nice pens and houses for a few days, before merging them into one small flock. Before the merger they had all slept in their chicken houses and for a few days after the merger, they put themselves to bed all together in one house - as one would expect. Then the trouble started! We had a period of very hot weather and since then they absolutely refuse to go into the house at dusk, sleeping outside in the run. This is still the case, despite the fact that the weather is now cooler. Now I know you are thinking "red-mite"! However I am convinced this is not the problem because prior to the chickens being put in the house, it had been left empty since last September, had been emptied and disinfected 4 months ago and then left empty until this new lot of chickens were put in there. So I am at a loss to know what to do or what is the cause of the strange behaviour. My husband and I have to go out each evening at dusk and catch them and put them to bed, but I do not fancy doing that much longer. However, once it gets cold, they will be very miserable if they stay outside. Any ideas what can be the problem? Or ideas on what I can do to persuade them to use the chicken house.
  2. Whittni

    Whittni Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Southern Utah
    Make sure your coop has good ventilation, it could be getting hot in the coop, like you mentioned the hot weather. Make sure you have enough roost space too, so the birds aren't pecking each other for more space. Are they roosting in the run or on the fences? Chickens really enjoy the higher roosts, even if its outdoors.
  3. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    For one, I always quarantine new chicks and especially adult birds for 2 months...they recommend atleast 2-4 weeks, longer is better.

    Now for the going to bed issue...it might be, that the new chickens and the established flock are either not getting along, have not established a pecking order, or HAVE established a pecking order and said nope, you aint comin in...you didn't say if all your chickens are outside, or if it is just the new ones...so this is incase it's the new ones only.

    Another reason, if it is all the chickens, new and old, once something is imprinted in their little brains, say...my coop is too hot, run is cooler..then that imprint will stay, until someone, like you and your hubby, change it and get them to realize it is not too hot...I have read people doing what you all are doing for 2-4 weeks, every night before the chickens "got it".

    What I do, but remember, mine I raised all from chicks and they are only about 2 months now, so they think I am Mamma chicken...don't laugh now, well if you do, enjoy the laugh [​IMG] Come dusk, I go in the coop and "cluck" them in. I had them out for a couple hours, before our run was done, and it got near dusk and no one was going in,( no matter what I tried) so I went in their coop, and stayed where they couldn't see me and clucked like a Momma chicken would, to call the chicks in. It worked that time.

    Well our run is done, so they have had two days in that. All new, a ramp, first time, a little pop door, all new and even though they had been running up the ramp, peeking in the pop door all day, then launching themselves off the top of the ramp, do you think those buggers would come in? My main cockerel got some in, but the others stood in the run and hollered. I only got the cockerel to get the ones in by moving where I could see them, but they could not see me. Well here I go again...back into the coop, head stuck out the pop door, barely, and clucked, they answered, and one came to the end of the ramp..so I pulled in my head, clucked again, she answered and sounded a little closer...well, got her in, so kept this whole shenanigan up till I had, once again, clucked them all in and ran and dropped the pop door before someone decided to go back out. Today they didn't go out, as it is pouring rain, and they are just getting over cocci. So hoping I have implanted what they have to do, if not, a cluckin I will go again. I can not, at my age, catch them and have no help...this idea was born out of desperation and even surprised me, that it worked.

    No idea if it will work for you, and I would bet your husband will be on the ground laughing, if you try it ( which could really distract the chickens from you and the task at hand )..but it IS worth a try! ( and ask hubby to please, if he has to die laughing, do it somewhere wayyy away from the chickens) Better than chasing them, if it works. I don't know how your new ones will do, but if you raised the others from chicks, it could work on them and maybe, if the others see them go in..they might be interested and curious enough, to check out what this whole thing is about? Also, it took some time, they didn't come right away, I had to "talk" to them, cluck, have them answer back for a while...I bet it took ateast 20 mins to half hour to get the last of them up the ramp and in!

    Good luck!!!!

    Good luck and know, I did check, the first time I did this, to make sure no one was around to see or hear me...LOL [​IMG]
  4. Sheila66

    Sheila66 New Egg

    Aug 13, 2013
    I do not believe there is anything wrong with the ventilation - the coop has been home to a flock of 8 chickens in the past with no problems - it is designed for 10 chickens and now we have only 5 who are supposed to use it. On the hot nights I didn't shut the front door, to make sure they could get out if they were too hot. In the last days, having forcibly put them in the coop overnight, they are not in any big rush to come out in the morning, they just hop out quite happily and go to breakfast.
  5. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    I didn't suggest there was anything wrong with your ventilation????? The only thing I said, is that maybe that hot spell imprinted in their little brains and now, even though it's cooler in their coop, once a thought is imprinted, it stays till you can prove to them otherwise. ??????
  6. Sheila66

    Sheila66 New Egg

    Aug 13, 2013
    Interesting ideas! The 2 Welsummers have been with me for a couple of years and are all that is left of a mixed flock of 8. They are typical "flighty" birds, afraid of their own shadows. The new girls are 18 months old, rescued from some commercial laying operation. They are delightfully tame and come rushing up to see what I have to offer them when I go in the coop - Lottie even flies up on to my forearm to have first go at whatever treats I have in the pot for them. The Welsummers are bigger than the Warrens and are definitely the boss, though there is no obvious bullying problem, as they all huddle up together outside, wherever they decide to spend the night.
    I think you must be right about them having a fixation (probably initiated by the unusually hot spell of weather) which is being very difficult to dislodge and will have to persist in putting them to bed, at least until hubbie gets fed up of doing it. By the way, having had 5 eggs a day for a very few days, they have all more or less stopped laying now, the Welsummers produce nothing and the Warrens produce one egg between them, every couple of days!
  7. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like they got pretty stressed, most likely the heat did it...would explain why they imprinted coop is hot, run is cool and it aint leaving them...keep an eye on them as stress can bring out diseases and parasite overloads...and especially the rescued birds, as they might not have built up the immunities to internal parasites on your land or any immunities at all...especially cocci...seems tons of that going around this year!!!

    Good luck getting them to go in their coop and hope it doesn't take you all too long...don't know how you catch them!!!! Those buggers can be fast and turn on a dime..which I can no longer do at my age [​IMG]
  8. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2013
    They could just be confused,try using at light to get them to come in after they are in,turn light out,you may have to do this for a couple of nights. This is actually very common.

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