Roosting in a tree

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RtSixtySixChix, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. RtSixtySixChix

    RtSixtySixChix In the Brooder

    Sep 16, 2011
    Westmoreland County, PA
    Early this Summer, one of my hens hatched and raised 2 chicks. I only held them a few times as they were quickly acclimated to their fenced in yard and they moved so fast, I could never catch them. I named them Bonnie & Clyde because they were often on the run--outside the yard, slipping through a small opening in the fence. As they grew older, they were no longer welcome inside the tractor with the others (roosting space is limited). So, even though I bought a small pegoda type house suitable for 2-4 chickens to accomodate the youngsters, they began to roost up in a nearby apple tree. This was OK for the summer, but lately, especially with Superstorm Sandy pelting down all that rain this week, I have been worried about the little ones.
    I've tried coaxing them right before nightfall with treats to get them to go into the pagoda...but they're just not having it. [​IMG] The poor things are roosting in a leafless tree --buffeted by the freezing rain and wind. I may be more distressed about this than they are....but Does anyone have any suggestions?[​IMG]

    You can see their tree in the background, directly behind the pagoda, in this picture of my chicken yard.

  2. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    My experience is that chickens roosting outside the protection of their coop will not last long. Many many predators love love chicken dinner.
  3. Spangled

    Spangled Songster

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    Well. A tough situation. The only remedy that I can imagine isn't going to be any less tough.

    Right now your little ones think that their tree is "home."

    You've got to get them thinking that somewhere else is "home."

    I'm not sure, but I think you want the little chickens to live in that little house next to the big red house. I'm not sure that's a red house. However, if that red building is the main chicken house, then I would put my tree chickens in there with the rest of the flock.

    I would want my tree chickens to be assimilated into the main flock because they're all going to have to live together in the run area in the white fence. So they've got to accept one another or your tree chickens will just end up back in the trees.

    Here's what I would do. I am not recommending you do it.

    So, during the day, I get a good new-ish ladder under the tree (as per the manufacturer's instructions-far be it for me to tell you how to use a ladder when I can barely stay on one myself). I go out after it's pitch black and get those tree chickens out of the tree. I do not go out before it's pitch black or they'll just move higher up in the tree when I try to catch them. One at a time. Sometimes I can get some help, but sometimes not. It's always easier with help. I try to come up with a plan before I go out there ... you know, and sort of a pep talk like "Remember to not let go no matter how much they flap." "Last resort, grab them gently by the legs and don't fall!" "Don't forget they will be noisy; that's normal." "It's better to catch them now because sleeping outside in 0 degrees temps can lead to death." I try to catch the male first if they are male and female (if possible). I do that just because the males are usually more apt to jump out of the tree than the females and then I end up having to wait until the next night to catch them. Gloves. Long sleeves. Eye protection. Etc. Headlamp turned sideways but still providing some light, but not shining in the chickens' eyes.

    Then I personally would keep all of my chickens in that large house for about 10 days. I would move two feeders in there and two waterers. Plus I would prop a board in the corner or place a hay bale or something so that the new chickens could have a place to hide if they need it. The extra feeder and waterer is so that they can get some water and feed when the other chickens aren't looking. Some times the newbies jump down early in the morning and eat before the others get down or the newbies stay down at sundown eating and drinking before going up on the roosts. You should probably look up the threads on this site that describe how to introduce new chickens into the flock. It's not always easy. But it's not always difficult either. It just depends.

    After about 10 days, the newbies "should" know where their new home is and will likely have made friends with the other chickens and will hopefully stay inside the white fence. However, I would try to make the white fence more chicken proof or I also might take it down because once a chicken sneaks outside the fence it can be difficult for them to get back in and that might lead to roosting in the tree again. Ten days, though, isn't always enough. And chickens are unpredictable. So who knows if that will work for you.

    Hopefully, you or someone else has some additional or different ideas that might work. This chicken stuff ain't so easy. I had to go out and catch some the other night. And in Pennsylvania, where it looks like you are, gets very cold. Those chickens could get their little toes frostbit. That will be much more work and trouble (for them) to deal with than catching them now and getting them retrained on where home is. At least that's how I see it right now.

    My chickens do okay with this kind of management, but you know your chickens and what they like and can deal with. So go with your gut on how to deal with this situation. Chickens are lovely, but it's not easy figuring them out.
  4. RtSixtySixChix

    RtSixtySixChix In the Brooder

    Sep 16, 2011
    Westmoreland County, PA
    Thank You Spangled, for your insight. My problem is that the red tractor seems to be overcrowded with 5 hens and a nice sized Rooster. There is another hen that is lowest in the pecking order and always the last one to go in at night. So, she roosts in the 'run' part of tractor on a limb I have mounted from one corner to another.  I was hoping that the younger ones would use the Pagoda as their sleeping quarters, but you say that wouldn't work.

    Well, my niece brought me a fishing net yesterday when I got home from work. She went right out into the chicken yard and captured Clyde. While she held him, I clipped his flight feathers, then we put him into the Pagoda. She proceeded to capture Bonnie with the net and after clipping her wings, we placed her in with Clyde. If a week or so of confinement does not work, I will try your suggestion and put them ALL together in the Tractor. I imagine I may have to do some remodeling so that there is more room INSIDE their sleeping quarters.

    Thanks Again
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    I was going to suggest wing clipping, but it sounds as if you're on top of it. I think a week or more of confinement in their pagoda will work like a charm, especially since they can't get back up into their tree now.

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