Please advise: my free-ranging flock are staying in the coop with the new flock members

Satya Kaur

Sep 13, 2020
I have a retirement home for chicken elders (no longer laying) from neighborhood farms.
My flock had gotten very small so I recently brought in some new members, Australorps, mostly for warmth this winter.

The new ones have never been free range and were living in a very loving and healthy farm, in a dark barn area with a very large number of others.
My neighbor got some of the same birds 4 months earlier, and within a few weeks, they were out foraging. The timing was ideal, 3 months of summer, but I assumed these would get bold within a few weeks and join the rest of the flock out and about

Instead, these birds have hardly left the coop and never left the tiny run. And the free rangers have stopped going out, now preferring to hang out with them in the coop. Additionally, my long term flock have picked up the nervousness of the newer ones, and now run from me when I come over (not the roo, but the hens)

The run was not designed for the birds to live in, it is just a little fenced space with an area sheltered from weather, for them to eat and drink when they are not ranging. And now it is getting very messy and poopy, as is the coop itself since they are spending all day in it.

How can I help shift this so that the free-rangers go out and the new ones follow? It has been a month since they arrived. I am not going to build a bigger run for them.
Thank you for all suggestions!
(Lavender Orpington roo, sex link and Red Rhodie and 4 Australorps, all post menopausal in Downeast Maine)

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