New flock - wont go into coop at night and laying eggs on ground

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by stanfosd, May 2, 2017.

  1. stanfosd

    stanfosd New Egg

    May 2, 2017
    Hello all, new here but not to chickens.

    We have had a couple of flocks now over the last couple of years, simply to have some egg layers. We only ever had 3-4 at a time, and they were Golden Comets. Good enough layers, but I wanted to get more of a heritage breed and one that I could let brood some chicks as time went on. Because of this, we purchased 6 Black Australorp hens and 1 BA rooster. We got them on 3/12/17 and we were told they were about laying age. We have several issues, but I'll get to the most pressing one first.

    We have an A-frame coop/run setup with electric poultry netting around this to provide the chickens protected pasture during the day (we have enough trees/shrubs for protection from hawks). The coop is up top, and the run below, where we keep the feed/water for them. Our problem is that the chickens will not go up the ramp into the coop at night. We have captured them several times and put them up in the coop in the evening and let them back down in the morning, but the next night they just huddle together below in the run again. Also catching them is a bit of a chore as they are very timid. I have tried to spend time with them, but they just seem to have a severe distrust of us. We never had any issues like this with any of our Comets. [​IMG] I have also tried to place some corn, or bread or other treat on the ramp up into the coop and they will eat the treats off of the ramp, but will not go up. We also placed light up in the coop at night, but again, no go. At this point, we do have one hen that is starting to lay, and she simply lays her egg in the middle of the fenced pasture area. I sure dont want any of them to get curious and gain a taste for eggs.

    Another problem is when we got the chickens, all of them were pretty badly missing feathers on their backs/rears. About half of them have cleaned up nicely and feathered out, but at least 2 still have bare tails showing, and this is after having them for about 2 months. Do I need to be worried? I have never seen any of them pecking at each other, but I simply dont watch them all day long.

    Hoping someone will have a miracle idea, but any suggestions would be appreciated!
  2. CookieChicken18

    CookieChicken18 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 6, 2017
    I only can really help with the going into the coop at night thing, we lost 2 RIRs to a predator after they didn't go into the coop the first night. After we put them back out we put some chicken wire over the door (entrance to the henhouse from the ramp) and transferred them from henhouse to run every day and night for a few weeks. When we took the wire away they did it on their own. Hope this helps. :)
  3. stanfosd

    stanfosd New Egg

    May 2, 2017
    I guess I missed some details... sorry about that.

    Our coop has a raisable ramp, so I can effectively close them in the coop, which is above the run. Also, the run is completely enclosed in hardware cloth, and I am able to close the door on that to keep them safe from predators. I simply open the door in the morning to let them out of the coop/run and into the pasture, and close it at night. So when I say they are huddled together on the ground in the run, they are still protected, just not up in the coop like I want them to be.

    If it comes down to catching them every day and putting them into the coop, I can do that. I just want to avoid stressing them too much if I can, and it does take about 20-30 minutes for the wife and I to catch them and put them in the coop. If I do it by myslef, it takes closer to an hour and it is lots of running. lol
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Laying eggs on the ground or Earth is where a heritage chicken is expected to lay.

    In fact, all things being equal, eggs hatch better if the hen incubates them on the ground.

    However, the flock keeper's back doesn't like bending over to gather the eggs.
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  5. WVForestGirl

    WVForestGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 11, 2015
    West Virginia
    Sorry to hear about your problems with the new flock. I have a similar setup with a ramp that goes up through the floor of my coop. The new teenagers can never figure it out. I wait until after its dark outside but the light in the coop is still on, then I pick them up out of their huddle and put them as far up the ramp as I can. I try to do a couple at a time so they have a buddy. They usually work their way up the ramp towards the light with a bit of prodding from below. Of course mine also hear happy chicken noises from inside to attract them so you might want to put a 'seed hen' in first through the people door. I think the longest it's taken has been 4 nights of this before the whole group has it figured out.
    I'd bet they'll start laying in their boxes once they feel that the coop is home. Until then you could maybe try providing a sideways 5gal bucket or covered kitty litter box as a temporary nest in the run?
    Good luck!

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