"Old" hens learning new tricks?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by outdooraholic, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. outdooraholic

    outdooraholic Out Of The Brooder

    15
    2
    24
    Feb 25, 2013
    So...I've done a forum search and it seems as though all of the "chickens using ladders" questions/comments are geared for young chickens that are in large coops and dont mind being held/handled.

    So heres the background story:
    I have zero experience with chickens but 2 days ago I bought 2 Americauna hens off craigslist. They were free range and the owners didnt have them as "pets" persey so I dont think they were accustomed to handling. Their nesting boxes were on the ground, and there was plenty of room for them to "fly" up onto a perch (the coop was also very covered in fecal matter making them stink to high heaven). So anyways......before this I built an Aframe tractor/coop out of recycled materials/stuff I had lying around and built it so that the ends hinged as doors but the sides didnt have doors (mistake explained later). On one end I set it up to where the one nesting box was on top, and the bottom half was the "roosting box" both are enclosed with a 6x9" cutout door, and a ladder going up to the nesting box. So far they have both laid an egg in the lower roosting area, and in the "run" area.

    So as promised, heres my mistake and final question:
    I read here on the forums alot of people tried treats to get them to use the ladder. So being a 6'5'' 270lb dude I had to crawl into the 3'x6' run area through one of the end doors to even get to the ladder - which made them immediatly retreat to the roosting box squaking like crazy. I put squished grapes on the ladder, in the opening, and inside the nesting box and backed out (dam near destroying the coop in the process). When they finally came out of the roosting box one of them could have cared less about the grapes and the other one just ate a couple off the stairs but didnt follow the "trail". The most frustrating part is the opening to the nesting box is litterally 2" above their heads - so they can almost see into it. So my question is - can "mature" hens learn to use the ladder in a way that doesnt require me handling them because they FREAK out, and definatly didnt get the trail of grapes idea???

    Thanks, and sorry for the super long thread :)
     
  2. outdooraholic

    outdooraholic Out Of The Brooder

    15
    2
    24
    Feb 25, 2013
    [​IMG]
    visual of the coop if it helps - sorry cant see the ladder/openings but the top green triangle is the door to the nest box, and the bottom is the roost box
     
  3. outdooraholic

    outdooraholic Out Of The Brooder

    15
    2
    24
    Feb 25, 2013
    no ideas?
     
  4. Hennyville

    Hennyville New Egg

    5
    0
    7
    Feb 3, 2013
    South Dakota
    My chicken Henny, who died two years back.She flew in until I made a ramp for the flightless chickens. so she had to learn as well so I got her to climb by putting watermelon at the top. And every time she flew to get it I would take the melon away so she sneaked up on it very slowly then she started to walk up the ramp and did that every day until she did it out of habit and that's how I trained my chicken. [​IMG]
     
  5. KLLEETRUCKING

    KLLEETRUCKING Out Of The Brooder

    50
    2
    31
    Jun 24, 2012
    Utopia, S.C.
    I might be speaking "out of school" here, but 2 days? We've been into chickens for only a year, one thing we discovered, chickens don't like changes in much of anything. Your guys/girls are going through a major change in almost everything. Give them some time to get used to you and their new surroundings. I'd imagine they're pretty freaked out right now.
    Most of our flock don't cotton to being picked up and they were raised from 2 days old by hand.

    Soft spoken human = food = safety = acceptance. They will come around.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  6. outdooraholic

    outdooraholic Out Of The Brooder

    15
    2
    24
    Feb 25, 2013
    Kleetrucking - I'm sure your right, I just guess I was really surprised they picked up on everything else so quickly, but not this.
    Hennyville - Thanks for the help! Looks like I'll have to find out what treat they go crazy for and use that (never would have thought watermelon was the ticket!)
     
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    My first coop was a tractor style with an upstairs and a ladder.

    The short story is they learned to use it. Out of chicken curiosity, and it took over a week, but finally I managed to see nobody was sleeping "downstairs" any more.

    I got tired of snatching up chickens and putting them upstairs during the third night, so I stopped.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  8. outdooraholic

    outdooraholic Out Of The Brooder

    15
    2
    24
    Feb 25, 2013
    THEY DID IT!!! I went out this morning to find them both in there (very surprised they could both fit) and two eggs laid!!! I still dont think they used the ladder, but hey whatever works
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by