Question about my weirdo birds, and about changing coops

Firefoot

Songster
Jul 8, 2018
134
255
131
Baltimore County, MD
Hey all,

So first off, my weirdo Ameraucanas would stay in the coop ALL day if I let them. In the morning when I come out, all the others are out an about, milling around in the woodchips, the roo is crowing, and Pancake and Toast are still on their roost cooing to each other. They are ~28-30 week old blue Wheaten Ameraucana pullets, I've had them since they were about 12 weeks old, and they've been free-ranging as a flock (with the baby roo, an EE, and a Sussex [and 2 others but they've died]) since mid-August. I let the birds out of their yard in the afternoons, anywhere between noon and 3, and they will happily scurry out to forage and dustbathe. BUT I have to shoo them out of the coop first. Yesterday it was 2:30 and they're just on their roost, hanging out. Why are they doing this and how can I encourage them to be outside more?

They have a 10x40 run for 8 birds with a couple very large branches tied up to perch on, a big tree stump, chairs, a small table with shelves, and two waterers and two feeders. The run was filled with 3-4" of fresh wood chips a few weeks ago. An 8' span of the run by their coop is covered. I don't want to close off the coop because they should be laying any day now and I want them to find the boxes. I also don't want to be feeding them tons of scratch to get outside and haven't found tons of treats that they like (they are still suspicious of mealworms!)

Another question: So this group of 5 birds including the Ameraucanas has been living in my bigger coop since July. My original 3 girls have been living right next to them in a smaller chicken tractor parked on the fenceline. I hate this tractor and want to switch them over to the big coop with everyone else as was the plan. Originally each coop had a 10x20 run but it's been opened up for about a week now. They've been free ranging together for months. There aren't any behavior issues and the big girls are still the boss (young birds are 20-28 weeks). Last night I put the big 3 in the coop to spend the night. I'm hoping they'll figure this out quickly, but is there anything I should do to make this transition more obvious to them? Also, will they figure out where to lay? The new coop is bigger and more inviting and friendly than their previous one and there are 6 boxes to choose from. I just don't want them to protest me, and I want them to be good role models for the younger girls once they start laying.
 

Lady of McCamley

Free Ranging
11 Years
Mar 19, 2011
8,137
6,769
582
NW Oregon
It sounds like a bit of integration problem yet as they were added later to an established flock, albeit a bit small. If they are more timid in nature, they may not want to join the others who are more rambunctious and possibly who are hazing them a bit.

You had 2 birds die recently, which would shift flock order again. More importantly, what did they die of?

Another thought is lurking coccidiosis, which can make birds huddle on the roost.

LofMc
 

Firefoot

Songster
Jul 8, 2018
134
255
131
Baltimore County, MD
It sounds like a bit of integration problem yet as they were added later to an established flock, albeit a bit small. If they are more timid in nature, they may not want to join the others who are more rambunctious and possibly who are hazing them a bit.

You had 2 birds die recently, which would shift flock order again. More importantly, what did they die of?

Another thought is lurking coccidiosis, which can make birds huddle on the roost.

LofMc
I didn't think it'd be an integration problem as they've only been opened up for a week (tho free-ranging together for months), and this behavior has been happening for a little while I think. They are more timid, though the bossier two of the five youngins. Is there anything I can do to encourage them to open up?

I had two birds die of Marek's. One was a 6-week battle with what I thought was a spider bite but turned out was tumors. She was separated from the flock for the most part, turned out together in the run in good weather (which hasn't been often), spending most of her time in the garage crate. She was more attached to the Sussex, though now that I think of it, I did see her with the Ameraucanas a bit when they were free ranging before her illness. She was put down two weeks ago (but separated from the flock for a bit before that).

The second bird was put down last week after showing neurologic Marek's. She was separated from the flock the day that the other was put down as she was very lame. She did not ever rejoin the flock but did get some private turnout in the run on a couple sunny afternoons. She was not friendly with the Ameraucana's, her bestie was the EE.

FWIW I have disinfected the coop and the run to the best of my ability, and I'm comfortable moving forward with integrating as they were exposed to Marek's birds. I'm like 90% sure the oldest 3 were vaccinated.

I will watch for further illness, whether coccidosis or symptoms of Marek's, but they seem very healthy. Their combs are bright, they aren't huddled up on the roost, just standing there, once they can free range they do so eagerly. The more I think about it, it probably is hazing by the bigger birds.
 

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