Panicking! How to manage new chickens???

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by philipsgirl21, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. philipsgirl21

    philipsgirl21 New Egg

    Nov 11, 2010
    I have spent months researching chickens, and almost as long perfecting our coop. We decided to pay the price for already or near laying birds. I picked up six hens today, from two different sources. I introduced them all to the coop, straight our of their box. Only one instantly left the coop. A bit later they were all happily hopping around my yard searching for bugs. As the sun began to go down, problems mounted...Three of six got themselves into the coop without any help/coaxing, etc. Two ended up in a tree, and the last remained at ground level. Now it's 11pm and the two are still up in a tree. The last is out in my yard, sure to be eaten by raccoons, after three+ hours of me trying to guide/corral/catch and replace in the coop with no luck. Feeling devastated and defeated, I'm resolved to idea that I may wake up to three fewer hens than I began with. My question is this: what am I to do with them tomorrow? Clearly I don't have the power to place these beauties in the coop, nor do they seem to get that's what it is...Have I just completely made a terrible mistake in getting older birds who aren't used to me? Is there a way to coax them into the coop at all? Even early in the day? I want to allow them out all day to roam free in my yard. If I can get them into the coop, do I lock them in for a time to readjust them to our coop? Don't know what to do!
  2. tigerrrrrrrlilly

    tigerrrrrrrlilly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    you need to keep them locked in the coop for some time so they can establish it as home. I do it for 3- 5 days, some say a week.
  3. philipsgirl21

    philipsgirl21 New Egg

    Nov 11, 2010
    how do I get them in?
  4. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    In all your research I guess you missed the part about locking them in the coop for about a week. [​IMG] But have no fear, all is not lost!
    Chickens (like most animals really) are creatures of habit and NOT at all happy with the idea of a new place.
    Also most animals do not "generalize" very well. Having lived in one coop in the past will not automatically mean they will gravitate towards another coop, they just don't make the connection. Each coop is an entirely separate "world" to them. It has nothing to do with their age or them being "used to you"

    After dark they should be pretty sleepy and docile. If you have porch lights and such, turn them off if necessary. A chicken cannot see very well in the dark, and will often flap away from you only to squat down on the ground a few feet away simply because it cannot see well enough to move in the dark. It's easier to catch them the darker it is.
    Catch the chickens from wherever they are roosting, sneak up on them in the dark and just grab them, don't be shy. It won't hurt them to initially catch them by their legs if they are above your head sometimes it's easier to grab a leg, but do try to carry them as comfortable as you can. Be careful of flapping wings in your face, feathers do kinda hurt, especially in the eyes.

    Once you get them all in the coop, leave them inside (you DO have ample square footage I assume) all day and all night for about a week straight.
    They should be putting themselves up on their roosts at night inside the coop. If they have trouble getting to bed, you may use a very low wattage light for about an hour after dusk (christmas lights work good for this IME) above the roost and they will gravitate towards the light. Sometimes even if they know where the coop is, seems like they have trouble with the simplest things, like finding the pop door at dusk. I ran a string of christmast lights and made a "runway" to their roosting area. After 3-4 days they really didn't need the lights anymore.

    After they are roosting themselves in the proper place reliably for several days in a row, you can let them out in the day and they should put themselves back to bed at dusk. If they don't get to bed, catch them in the dark again and lock them inside for several days longer. Trust me, I've done this what seems like a hundred times with each brooder group and each coop transition. Occasionally you will get a rogue bird, usually of Leghorn bloodlines, who refuses to be trained. Wing clipping can help prevent them from roosting above your head and help you catch them at night. EVENTUALLY they seem to settle down and put themselves in with the others.

    wow that seems awful long, hope it helps lol
  5. 7&8

    7&8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2010
    Hmmm...if they are "older" birds, perhaps they have experienced being called with treats? Mine always come running when I shake a container with some cracked corn in it. Try not to be too hard on yourself [​IMG] !
  6. dataman

    dataman Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2010
    We recently bought a property and asked the sellers to leave us a few chickens. They decided to leave all 20. So as we've spent days there fixing up the place (will move in later after prep is finished), the chickens free ranged everywhere. The sellers told us that they'd simply go back into the run & coop at night, since nobody would be around to lock them in or let them out in the morn. Well, yesterday we worked late at the house, painting walls, etc. and decided to check the 'pen' after dark. So we flipped the switch on the pen lights and walked down there. We saw 1 hen roosting and 2 were chilling up on the deck railing by the house. Where were the other 17? I don't know, but I have a feeling they found somewhere to rest in one of the outbuildings on the property or something. I'm confident that when we drive up to the place in a few hours there will be a flock to greet us as they have every day.
    It will be great to finally move in and manage them correctly, but for now their instincts are doing pretty well.
    Philipsgirl21, hopefully yours will be fine while you're working out details.

    KIDDSBANTAMS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2010
    We recently built a new coop for our chickens and the time came to lock the doors of the old coop and get them to go into the new one. The problems with our chickens was not so much the new coop but that it is getting dark earlier and if it is dark in the coop they will not go in there because chickens can not see in the dark and they get scared if you try to force them in. We put a light in the coop and it is go during the day and that helps with them laying but most of all they go towards the light at dark and all go into the coop everyday. The light has worked wonderful for us and we have not had any problems we them. Hope this helps.
  8. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    I hope that your birds have come down and you are able to get them back into the coop... IF so, lock them up for several days--even a week.. IF they are running wild, try treats if that doesn't work you may have to wait until they go to roost (even if it's in a tree and climb, net or knock them out after dark and move them to the coop...

    Hope they are safe.. who have been panicking too..Good luck.
  9. ChickieBerryFarm

    ChickieBerryFarm Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 9, 2010
    Southern Indiana
    Also, make sure to trim the wings before you turn them out of the coop to free-range...only trim one wing on one side.

    Best wishes!!!

  10. bakerjw

    bakerjw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2010
    Johnson City, Tn
    Wing clipping is a matter of personal preference. Not trying to incite as each has their own method but I don't clip the wings of my free ranging birds. I want them to have every chance of escape possible in case a predator ever gets around them. Of course they can fly into trees that way as well so it is a catch 22 to some degree.

    Something that I've found that helps is to keep some fence (deer netting works well too) partially rolled up as a corralling mechanism. My free rangers are friendly (especially when I come out with a handful of crackers) but are still tough to catch. I walk them and into the fencing to corral them up if I do need to catch them.

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