Question about coop training


Araucana enthusiast
5 Years
Mar 16, 2016
North Central IN
My Coop
My Coop
I will *hopefully* be getting 5 - 5 month old Buff Orp pullets next weekend (if they are still available) and am curious about how long I need to keep them locked up in the coop to get them to return there at night. They will have a 30' x 15' run and the coop is 6' x 4'. Do I need to keep them in the coop for the whole 2 weeks if there is no where in the run for them to roost? I didn't know if that 2 week rule of thumb was mainly for free range chickens or not. I am worried about keeping them cooped up that long; worried they will get bored and start picking on each other and worried the coop might get too hot.
If your coup and run are attached or the coop is inside the run, then I would just keep them confined to that set up, I have that set up and I have never confined mine to the coop. The coop is the best place to roost, chickens are curious, will investigate, and go there near dark. Especially older chickens that are used to roosting such as the 5 month old birds you are trying to get.

Chicks don't roost right away, and some people have an elevated coop, so that the bird must walk up a ramp to get into the coop. That can be a bit tricky apparently. However, if the birds go to sleep some where else, just scoop them up and put them into the coop after dark (they will be very easy to handle after dark and very hard to handle before dark) I would not even lock them in. In the morning they will figure the ramp out, especially if coaxed with a treat, and then should be able to go up it at night.

I would confine them to the coop for about three days so they develop an attachment to a roosting site inside, even if it is on the floor. Then they will come into coop each evening where they are more protected. Late in fourth day release them late before they are settling in to roost so they will not wander enough in run to become confused. If you have a ramp then scatter some treats on it to encourage exploration around the opening between coop and run so birds become more familiar with it that first evening.
Since yours will be confined to a run, there are no rules, just personal preferences and the way we individually do things. Yours can’t just wander away. If they totally free ranged, yes, things would be different.

At 5 months they should already be roosting. I think that will help you, especially if there is no place for them to roost in the run, though they may want to roost on top of the coop. I don’t know if you have an elevated coop or if it is on the ground. I don’t know if you use a ramp if it is elevated. My grow-out coop is elevated but instead of a ramp I have intermediate steps. They usually don’t use the steps anyway, just fly up or down even at 5 weeks when I usually move mine. There are lots of different ways your coop could look. At five months I don’t think it matters that much. The way I understand it these will be your only chickens so you don’t have any integration issues. If you had older chickens already in the coop/run, that would make a difference. I just don’t think you are going to have that many problems.

I don’t know how well ventilated your coop is or if it is in the shade, but in Illinois this time of year heat is a danger. In cooler times I’d agree to leave them locked in there for a bit, but this time of year and not knowing what your coop looks like I’d say do not. If you get them late in the day so it has already cooled down (or if it is a rainy cool day) I’d say lock them up overnight and let them out the next morning. Otherwise just put them in the run when you get home.

They will go to sleep somewhere. If it is in the coop, good. If it is in the run and it gets dark down there, they will be very easy to catch after dark. Just lock them in the coop overnight. If you have a lot of light down there it may be more challenging to catch them. You do need to get them in the coop to sleep. At five months and with them almost certainly already roosting, I don’t think you will have to put them in the coop many nights for them to get the message. With my 5-week-olds and them not roosting it usually takes about a week for them to get the message but I have had some hard-headed ones take as long as three weeks. Each group is different. Each chicken can be different. We all do these things differently. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way, just different ways to get it done.

Welcome to the adventure. You are going to have a fun time.
Much appreciated Ridgerunner! This is what the coop looks like so far. The chicken door is 16" off the ground and there will be a ramp. The run will start at the front of the coop and they will have lots of shade from a big Mulberry tree and a barn. We are entering our steamy time of summer here in central IN, too!
At 5 months old they are already old enough to know coop/shelter means home. First try letting them have full access to the run and coop. You will be impressed how easy they will adjust to going in and out during the day and going to bed at night.
Just try what works for you....
If the chickens do roost in run area, then police them up and imprint them on coop first. Older birds will present the same roost imprinting challenges most often associated with younger birds.

What you will often see with chickens roosting in run is they will roost up against run perimeter wall. This increase odds a night time predator will try to get them even when perimeter is made of hardened materials like hardware cloth.
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