Rooster sitting on eggs and flock stopped roosting at night....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by nayalusa, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. nayalusa

    nayalusa In the Brooder

    May 1, 2014
    Hello! My daughter started this profile a while ago but this is the first time I've written.
    INFO: mixed flock of 10 month olds and 8 month old hens and 1, 10 month old rooster who was raised up with the hens from a chick. Breeds: Black Australorps(Roo+3 hens), Buff orpinton(2 hens), ameraucana(4 hens).

    Anyway, we have had an interesting change in behavior this winter with our flock of 9 hens and 1 roo. The whole flock has seemed to stop roosting up on the bars at night. I've purposely gone down after dark to close them up and have found them all on the floor of the coop, milling around, some nesting, maybe a pair together huddled on the floor "sleeping", but nothing consistent that would indicate that they're in distress or cold? I'm still getting eggs every day even during freezing temps and poor weather. I also started finding 1 hen, an 8 month old Ameraucana, alone on a straw bale outside the coop under the eve at night. I have to collect her each night and put her in the house.

    Most suprisingly, I've had to push the rooster out of the nesting box each evening in order to collect the eggs!? He seems to be in the nesting box sitting on almost all of the eggs, while a hen or two may be nesting in the other 2 boxes, the Ameraucana is out behind on the straw bale alone, and the other hens are in some state of milling or sleeping on the floor of the coop. I can't figure out whats going on and why the change? I went back through the coop with filler to fill any potential cracks that may have caused a draft that might have been bothering them and checked the inside physically for anything weird like nests or fallen roosts, etc. All seems good?

    They have been a content flock that has put themselves to bed up on the roosting logs up to this point? Any ideas? They are free range inside a large fenced garden area and are still laying eggs each day even through a miserably cold and snowy December. They have dry, snow free areas to access outside and seem normal during the day foraging, etc. Any ideas would be appreciated!
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Check the roost cracks and crevices to make sure that they are not infested with red mites.
  3. nayalusa

    nayalusa In the Brooder

    May 1, 2014
    Thank you, I'll check that out today. I hadn't checked the bars individually.
  4. If your chickens had been nesting, but now they are sleeping on the floor, like sourland said, you can suspect red mites. Use a bright flash light and check the roost after dark, you will find them milling around on the roosts looking for a chicken to dine on.
  5. nayalusa

    nayalusa In the Brooder

    May 1, 2014
    Red Mite advice:
    Thank you for the helpful advice regarding the girls suddenly not roosting at night! I believe red mites were definitely the problem although we treated them and everything in the coop with a combo mite/lice powder suggested by our local feed company. Here's what we did:
    -Completely emptied the coop and nesting boxes of all pine shavings
    -Removed all roosting bars
    -Burned everything we removed in a burn barrel to guarantee they wouldn't find their way back
    -Treated every nook and cranny and nesting box in the house with the powder and mixed a liquid of the same powder to pour in really tight crevices. Sprinkled on bare floor at end and prior to putting pine shavings back in.
    -bought new dried 2x4's as roosting bars, put them up and treated them with powder
    -treated entire flock with powder (can and feed store said you could...not sure if all brands are safe to put directly on the hen)
    -sprinkled some in their dust bath area under and around a couple trees hoping that when they dust bathe they'll get a bit more up in the places we couldn't get
    -currently re treating interior of coop every other day or so and checking hens for bites.

    Result: MUCH HAPPIER HENS literally within hours of doing this. They returned to roosting that evening like they had never abandoned the bars and didn't come bursting out of the house in the morning like it was on fire. Poor things. Live and learn I guess. I won't let it get a week ahead of me again.

    Thanks again for the prompt responses.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Good Job!!

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