New to Chickens - Won't go inside at night.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by eyes0444, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. eyes0444

    eyes0444 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2013
    I've read a few other posts with similar topics, but I'm still a little unclear as i am new to chickens.

    I got two 17 week old golden comets (just started laying at the end of August) and they are fantastic and i love having them. However, they won't go inside the roosting area at night.

    I have an A-Frame style coop. There is some outside space at one end, and a ramp that leads a raised and enclosed nesting area at the other. There is some space to walk underneath the nesting area too. Then outside the chicken wire door that leads from the outside area of the coop, i have an approximately 35'x7' run for them.
    I've had them 4 days now and they won't go into the nesting area of the coop for anything.

    The 1st day, when I brought them home, i plopped them in the run, and we all had a grand time.
    The 1st night i made a nearly fatal mistake by waiting to long to see if they went to bed. They made a break for it and roosted in a tree out of sight. Luckily they come back in the morning.

    The 2nd day, after retrieving them from a tree, they spent the day in the run.
    The 2nd night, I locked them in their coop, thinking they would figure it out, but they choose to spend the night on the ground under the nesting area. No good.

    The 3rd day, after reading up on it, i kept them in the coop all day, no run time.
    The 3rd night, I bought a night light to illuminate the dark nesting area. I put the light in several hours before bed time, but they payed no attention to the nesting area. Around bedtime they stated to panic a little bit, and got very vocal, wondering around the coop trying to get out. I locked them inside.....only after having to physically put them in. I returned a few hours later to turn off the light, and check on them. They were both huddled together in one corner on the inside.

    Today was the 4th day. I let them into the coop area in the morning, but again, no time out in the run, just keep them in the coop all day.
    Tonight, it was the same ordeal. I left the light on all day with some food and water up there hoping it would draw them in during the day and they would see that it was safe. I can't lure them up the ramp for anything, I've put treats up the ramp and at the top, I've physically put them up there and they just run back down the ramp if its not closed off.

    This problem isn't a huge problem right now, however, when it turns winter and its dark by the time I get home from work, I want to my chickens to be safe and warm and go to bed by themselves.

    They already identify me with food, and they usually come running when they hear me getting close.

    I guess, my question is a multi-parter.

    1) Should I continue with putting them in the nesting area all night and locking the door?

    1.5) Should i continue to include water and food for overnight? or should they be good.

    2) Is keeping them in the coop all day while I'm away ok/better for now? They can wonder around its not like they are cramped, but they enjoy the run so much, i feel bad. i want them to be happy.

    3)Is there anything I'm not doing that I should be?

    I've been learning alot from this site. Its been a great tool so far.
     
  2. bluedoor

    bluedoor Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 22, 2013
    I just got my first ever pullets (12-14 weeks) last weekend, so I've had them about as long as you've had yours. I'm certainly no expert, but I did have the same issue as you for the first couple of nights. They were sleeping in a pile in their secure run, not in the coop. I also tried messing with them, moving them around, etc. I used the light in the coop trick and it worked for me.

    As long as the girls have access to the coop (not sure what you mean by nesting area, I assume you mean a roost in the coop?) and you put a low wattage light in there, they will begin to find their way. They are in a new place, you're freaked out, they're freaked out... Give them some time to realize that their safe place is the coop and begin roosting there at night. It's nerve wracking, I know, but try to relax.

    I don't think that chickens eat or drink at night. The book I read (A Chicken In Every Yard) recommends keeping food and water out in the secure run vs. the coop. That's what I've been doing. I would also allow your girls to access the run during the day and see if they start going into the coop at night on their own after a few days. If not, then you may want to try leaving them in the coop (with food and water of course) for 3-5 days to see if that cements the habit of sleeping there.

    Best of luck, I know how you feel!
     
  3. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Taylors, SC
    I keep food in the coop, water in the run. The last batch of chickens slept on the porch of their coop inside the run until they started to lay. They slept in a pile on the porch. When they were mature, they finally moved inside the coop, but slept on the floor in a pile for a couple of weeks before they started to roost.

    If they are in the run and have access to the coop and are safe at night, waiting might be the best thing.

    They don't eat or drink at night.

    Chris
     
  4. eyes0444

    eyes0444 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2013
    Heres a link to a picture of my coop.

    http://s168.photobucket.com/user/Eyes0444/media/IMG_20130904_193502_zpsb662efd4.jpg.html

    I'm calling the nesting area the part with the hay in it. (the side is flipped up for the picture)
    The coop I'm calling the outside area under the a-frame.
    Maybe I'm using the wrong terminology but...

    The a-frame is completely enclosed and secure with chicken wire, the nesting area is walled off inside the a-frame. (where the hay is) There is no roosting poles inside, its just a flat board with hay. (the run is open on the top)

    I'll start letting them out all day in the run, and enclose them in the a-frame for the night and hope they eventually make it up into the nesting area. We have a large amount of stray cats, raccoon, etc and I'd feel better if they were in the a-frame at night.
    This weekend i'll put a window in there as well so maybe that will help as well.

    Thanks to all for the insight!
     
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! Do you know how your new birds were housed before? Mine have a coop 10' by 17' building, and roost either in the rafters, or three feet up on saplings. They wouldn't think a little cave/ nest box is a night time roost at all. Also, there's nothing safe about chicken wire; it will keep chicken in but not deter predators at all. Please rethink your setup! Mary
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    8,064
    2,708
    416
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! Do you know how your new birds were housed before? Mine have a coop 10' by 17' building, and roost either in the rafters, or three feet up on saplings. They wouldn't think a little cave/ nest box is a night time roost at all. Also, there's nothing safe about chicken wire; it will keep chicken in but not deter predators at all. Please rethink your setup! Mary
     
  7. 3chickchicks

    3chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    N. Texas
    I locked mine in their run/coop for a week before letting them out. This made them easy to round up because they head for the run if they felt threatened.
    Once they were allowed out, I still had to shoo them into the coop for another week. I tried lights, which didn't work. I put their feed in the coop so they'd get used to going up and down the ramp. I shoo'd them into the coop a little after sundown and then locked them into the coop for the night. Soon, I just walked out and they'd go up the ramp themselves and I'd lock them in for the night. Then one day, I went out and found them in the coop, waiting for me to lock up.
     
  8. eyes0444

    eyes0444 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2013
    My chickens went in their nesting area all by themselves at dusk!!!! I feel eel like a proud father, lol.
    The night light trick and locking them inside while at night worked!
     

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