New 19 week old pullets - signs of stress/not using roosts?


Ted Brown

Premium Feather Member
Dec 12, 2018
near Shawville Quebec Canada
My Coop
My Coop
I received seven 19 week old ready to lay pullets a week ago Friday. Their coop was not ready so i kept them in a temporary non secured cage until last night when they were moved to their new secure coop. I wrapped the temporary cage with tarps each night to help deter predators, I also worried every night until they were moved.

A couple of questions:

1. A person at the store that supplied the pullets maintains that they would be stressed and would take some time to adjust, longer if they were subjected to multiple changes. She said it could be "up to a year" before they would lay.

We are complete novices so have no experience to guide. @jthornton suggested giving them things to keep them occupied; we have done so: treats (fern leaves, fruits, etc.) multiple times per day; a roost bar with ramp on day two; a dust bath (gravel and ash) a couple of days later. We also feed them morning and night and use the opportunity to touch them, talk to them... After a few days they would come to the end of the cage we approached and wait expectantly for whatever we had to offer. After we moved them to the new coop their behaviors did not seem to change, no sign of apprehension/fear, anxious to see what we have brought them, crowding to the opening at the front when we approach, soft cooing (?), occasional clucks.

We think they are fine and adapting well but do not know what the signs of a stressing bird are.

2. They are not using the roosts I have provided rather stay on the floor and either scratch and fling bits about or settle down into the straw looking like they are nesting or at night cluster together in one front corner.

Normal? How do we train them to use the roost (go in after dark and lift/place them on the roost bars)?

Thoughts and input greatly appreciated.
Sounds normal so far, I'm sure they'll figure out where the roosts are on their own. When you say of laying age, have they been at the feed store their whole life, or they were from an employee's house? I guess it depends on their previous setup, if they've ever roosted before or not.

If it concerns you though, you could try putting one or two on the roosts and see if the rest follow their lead. I'm sure they just have a lot to take in with their new, beautiful coop. They'll work out the kinks soon. I don't think it will take a whole year for them to get over the stress and start laying again...hopefully more like a month or 2.

Best of luck!!
What do you think @aart, @slordaz, @Texas Kiki ??
I have heard others say they go in and put them on the roosts. Except for discouraging sleeping in nest boxes, I don't really worry about it. Mine don't always get on roosts, and I just figure they don't feel like it. It has never caused a problem. Wish I could give better advice.
Think that person at the store is bonkers lol. I think your doing better than the person about knowing them and getting them adapted in a good way. Just remember treats should not exceed 10% of their daily feed.

yes stress does affect but not a year maybe a day or 2, something you can do is when moving them set them up on the roost to show them, but make sure there is something on the floor to pad their landing. and if they are acting stressed give them 1 days with some electrolytes. You may want to keep them inside the coop for a couple of days just so they know this is now home.
Hi Ted.
A year is a crazy long amount of time. I don't think I would listen to that person.

Can you take a picture or two of the inside of your new coop where these girls are?
I don't think a couple of days is long enough for them to get used to their new home.
I'd give them a week or two to get used to the place.

Also can you post a few pictures of the girls?

Keep treats to a very small amount...think tablespoon size, of what ever treat you are offering, per bird.
Any more than that is probably not a good idea.
Treats take away from them getting a balanced diet and they need a balanced diet in order to be healthy and lay eggs.
Pictures 1st per @Texas Kiki request. I put 2-3" of fresh pine mulch on the floor and then a bale of straw that we let the ladies spread about. The 1st pic show shows mulch going in and their 2 roost boards (natural wood at the back), the 3rd last pic shows their ramp on left.

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@DiYMama540 The birds came from a commercial hatchery via my local feed store. The were vaccinated and had their beaks clipped before they arrived. They came along with 320 live birds and were jammed into a pallet coop inside the store's back inside storage area; arrival at the store 9am, we picked them up within the hour.

Our treats are mostly greens either from the kitchen or property (a head of lettuce on a string, ferns leaves, dandelion leaves, etc.; have also tried watermelon bits but most got left and we removed them the next day). For sure less than 10%.

Their main eats is a dry mash made onsite by our local feed store. I pressed about contents: corn, grains, also said the feed had enough calcium (?) from shells. "All they needed". We can use the mash to make "porridge" but have not done so as yet.

They do not have access to outside run space as yet, I have the HC for under the coop and will do this in the next few days but I am still scrambling to finish the coop along with regular other work.
How do we train them to use the roost (go in after dark and lift/place them on the roost bars)?
Yep, you sure can do that, well after dark with a very dim light works best....or they might find them on their own.
Can take a few days to adjust to changes...give them time and don't worry as long as they are eating/drinking/pooping/moving around OK.
I doubt they are too stressed, don't stress about it. ;)

The 'year until they lay' thing is just CYA(Cover Your Butt).
So people won't be calling them nonstop asking "why aren't these birds laying!?"
They may lay yet this year or not until after solstice when the days begin to lengthen again. They don't look ready to lay, watch for the combs to redden up.

Beaks don't look to drastically trimmed, they may grow back.
Here in the US it's law to list nutrient percentages on animal feed...not so in CA?
...give them time and don't worry as long as they are eating/drinking/pooping/moving around OK.

I doubt they are too stressed, don't stress about it. ;)
Here in the US it's law to list nutrient percentages on animal feed...not so in CA?

"...eating/drinking/pooping/moving around OK" For sure all seem to be functioning well.

"...don't stress about it" It was a marathon to get the coop done, close to 14 days of work until 7-8pm every night. I am beginning to relax but do want to have the ladies healthy and content so am now digging into the care and feeding aspects.

"Here in the US..." I don't know about the regulations here but the practices are largely influenced by laws in the US. Purina is a big supplier and most certainly have the ingredients listed. The dry mash bag from the local feed store has their name, locations and web site in bold blue and NOTHING else. They are a reputable company that has been around for decades and is the go to in my area (mostly agricultural). I saw their grinder, they had it out and on the ground for cleaning and inspection; looked brutal and efficient.

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