Odd behavior when it gets dark

dghighgate

In the Brooder
Sep 23, 2018
1
2
12
Shoreline WA
hello all,
This is our first fall/ winter with our sweet girls. When it gets dark, their instincts tell them to go up to their coop. The last couple nights, they are wondering around near the coop but does not seem to know to go inside? Last night, only one girl was found inside, so I carried rest of them inside and closed the door. Tonight, none of them would go in. I looked inside the coop wondering if there was anything suspicious or dangerous but nothing unusual but all was as usual.
The only thing I can think of is I know they hate being confined especially when they free range and now that it’s dark longer, their coop time is much longer. I could leave outside door open so they can go in and out into their run area that’s enclosed and safe but that would allow cold air in all night.
Is anyone having similar issues or have any advice?
Worried parent
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
17,609
137,685
1,582
Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
hello all,
This is our first fall/ winter with our sweet girls. When it gets dark, their instincts tell them to go up to their coop. The last couple nights, they are wondering around near the coop but does not seem to know to go inside? Last night, only one girl was found inside, so I carried rest of them inside and closed the door. Tonight, none of them would go in. I looked inside the coop wondering if there was anything suspicious or dangerous but nothing unusual but all was as usual.
The only thing I can think of is I know they hate being confined especially when they free range and now that it’s dark longer, their coop time is much longer. I could leave outside door open so they can go in and out into their run area that’s enclosed and safe but that would allow cold air in all night.
Is anyone having similar issues or have any advice?
Worried parent
Some of the chickens here behave as you describe for a few days in late autumn.
It got me wondering. Here it’s the pro tree huggers that do this. Normally at roost time they would be heading up the trees and I would call them down for dinner later. For a few days they will loiter around the coop and be reluctant to go in until the last minute but don’t go up the trees. They don’t have a run so they have to pick a tree or a coop.
I don’t know if you can easily detach your run, but if you could it would be interesting to see if they behave as I’ve described above.
Just to make this quite clear, the coops don’t have red mite and there are no monsters lurking inside.
It may be behavior specific to free range chickens. I would like to have a proper explanation for it.
 

CanadaEh

Songster
May 31, 2018
370
647
176
Canada
if you have light available, I found turning on the light in the coop before the dusk bring them into the coop earlier. They may still can hang out for an hour or so in the doorway, but refraining from venturing outside into complete darkness.
 

mixedbreeds

Crowing
Aug 10, 2016
1,331
2,151
266
Washington State, Coulee City
I have 4 coops and a couple weeks ago I went to close them up in the evening and there was one group doing the same thing. I had to put them in the coop there were a few in there but most were outside wandering around. They did this for 4 days, I never did see anything but I’m sure there must have been, a hawk or owl or something after them.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
17,609
137,685
1,582
Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
I did wonder if the more rapid change in light levels had something to do with it. Here at dusk until winter, the dusk light fades gradually and well past roost time there is enough light for them to make their way up a tree if they want. About now it goes from decent light for chickens to fairly dark quite quickly. I get caught out for feeding quite often at this time of year. I look and it’s reasonable daylight and it seems only a few minutes have passed and its darkish. I notice this in particular because if I’m not there at the right time with dinner, they won’t come down from the trees when I call them because they can’t see well enough to fly. This means I have to take them out by hand which is a bit of a chore when there may be a dozen of them.
I also wondered if the fact that their favorite roosting tree is a Magnolia which loses its leaves about now the chickens become indecisive about the safest place to be. Do they go into the run without encouragement?
 

MANNA-PRO

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