New-to-me hens, adjustment period?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JadziaDax, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. JadziaDax

    JadziaDax Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 7, 2015
    Georgia, USA
    I picked up five hens yesterday (Sunday) morning. They are probably about a year old, and came from a flock of about 40 hens.

    Brought them home and set them up in our coop with attached run. They all spent some time in the run, and roosted in the coop overnight (though I had to help a couple get fully into the coop - they tried roosting at the top of the gangplank that goes up to the hole in the floor of the coop).

    I went to work today and my husband was home. He went out around noon and encouraged them to leave the coop for the run, as they hadn't come out on their own yet. He said they all came out, spent a few minutes outside and then back in the coop they went. A couple came out for about 30 minutes in the afternoon, then everybody went back in the coop.

    Their food and water are in the run - do I need to worry about them eating/drinking enough? There isn't really much room in the coop for food/water, but I can make something work if I need to. Or should I just stick it out and let them figure things out?

    I plan on letting them free range, but thought keeping them closed in the run for the first few days was a good idea? So they know where "home" is now?

    Basically, should I be worried? Or just give them some space to figure out their new living situation?
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  2. Bridebeliever

    Bridebeliever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Howdy! Sounds like you are doing things just right! Tomorrow you may want to lock the out of their coop for a couple hours with access to their food and water. I'm sure they are just acclimating. I don't know what the weather is like where you are but my girls have total free run and they only wanted to spend about an hour out of their coop today! I didn't even think our weather was very bad! So keep doing what you are doing!

    You'll love BYC! Lots of friendly helpful people around these parts! Don't forget to check out the Learning Center too!
  3. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 21, 2015
    No where Nebraska
    Chickens hate change. Give them time to become adjusted to their new environment. Yes keeping them closed up for a few days is a great idea. As long as they know where the water and food is you shouldn't worry to much about them. By tomorrow they will probably come into the run more.
  4. owlflights

    owlflights Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2015
    SE Iowa
    I don't think there's anything to be worried about. I would definitely recommend keeping them in the coop/run for a few days to let them know it's their home. Give them time; they need to slowly work out everything that's going on. Sudden, drastic environmental change is hard on chickens and they need time to get used to it. Also, if you leave the pop door to the run open at night, there's no reason for food/water to be in the coop. Even if they don't have all night access I don't think its a huge issue.

    It took our chickens weeks to get comfortable in their run, and months to get comfortable free ranging in the whole yard. Now I swear they own the place.
  5. JadziaDax

    JadziaDax Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 7, 2015
    Georgia, USA
    Thanks for the quick replies!

    It was 56* and sunny here today, so I thought they would WANT to be out scratching around in the run! It was a miserable 40* and windy on Sunday when we brought them home and they spent a good bit of time outside. Silly chickens.

    The door doesn't close, so they have run access all night if they want it.

    The feeder I'm using is different from what they are used to, so I think in the morning I'll put out a small tray of crumbles in the run to make sure they have something substantial to eat. They'll have plenty of time to figure out the new feeder in weeks to come :)
  6. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Imagine someone plucked you and your family out of your house and neighborhood and stuck you in a strange house with a strange yard in a strange neighborhood with strange people you don't know. What would be your response not knowing if you can trust your new environment to be safe? It would probably be smart to take things slowly about running right outside and exploring if you don't know yet what predators may be lurking, and we know human predators can pose a pretty big danger to unwary people.

    Your chickens are just being smart about being thrust into a new environment. They are wisely restricting their activity to the coop until they get comfortable in it. Then they will gradually feel comfortable stepping out into the run and examining it. If you were to open the gate so they could free range during this period, I doubt very much they would venture out.

    I would put food and water in the coop for these first couple days, then move it out to the run after the chickens have had time to get used to things.

    Give them time to adjust and all will be well.
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    If you can't close the coop at night, how predator proof is the run? Chickens are pretty helpless in the dark.
  8. hnichols

    hnichols Out Of The Brooder

    I agree with all above. I would lock them in their coop so they get used to their new home. Later on maybe encourage them with some treats? Sunflower seeds are my flocks favourite. Good Luck with your new chickens you seem to be doing just fine. [​IMG]
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Also wonder about the safety of run against preds.
    I'd not let them out to range until you are sure they are eating and drinking well.
    A week or two should do the trick, then start letting them range late in day so they don't go far before back to coop for roosting at dark.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  10. JadziaDax

    JadziaDax Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 7, 2015
    Georgia, USA
    The run is very predator-proof. Hardware cloth all around, chicken wire across the bottom so nothing can dig in.

    Four out of five chickies came right out this morning when I went to check on them just after sunrise. I put out a tray of crumbles (in case they haven't figured out their feeder yet), a cut up apple, and some generous handfuls of scratch thrown around the run. They started scratching and clucking immediately. Hen #5 was still in the coop, but was standing at the entrance contemplating coming out :)

    Thanks for your reassurances! My mom kept chickens when I was a child, but it's been 15+ years since I've had them. She passed away about 7 years ago, so I can't bug her with my questions! I've been reading on this forum off and on for a couple of years, tucking things away for when we were finally ready to bring some chickens home!

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