Roosting issues - need advice! I got stubborn ladies that are gonna be an owl snack :(

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MESOFRUFFEH, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    I have a group of lovely ladies that are very stubborn and choosing to roost in some risky places. They spent the first few weeks of their life in a rubbermaid tub until I felt they were big enough that I was comfortable putting them out in the chicken house. Me and my dad built this chicken house several years ago and it is probably about 20 x 15 foot with a 10-12 foot sloped roof. It is made out of sheet metal, has an old screen door (the kind with glass like you have on a house) and one wall has a large door sized window covered in chicken wire. There used to be an old door you could fold down to cover the window, but it rotted away long ago. I have not had chickens in about 5 or 6 years, so the yard and house were all a little run down looking but its cleaning up okay, the chickens do not seem to mind.

    My problem is, my chickens want to roost on the barbed wire that extends a little above the chicken wire on one side of the yard. (They never escape however, they always jump back in instead of jumping out, but then again I come open their gate every morning to let them free range. They always come back but do not roost inside.) We had the top part of a tree fall into the yard a week or two ago and it is going to have to be cut up to be removed. Half of them have taken to roosting on this tree, and the other half on the barbed wire. They are all about 7 months old, and I do not believe that it has rained on them one time since they have been roosting. But it is about to cold (well, "cold" because I live in Texas) and rainy and I do not want them to be out roosting in the cold rain! That and I am scared someone is going to be made into an owl snack. I have gone and moved them from where they are roosting now, to their roost inside, which is basically a huge limb that goes from one corner of the chicken house to the other (I am all about free lol, and that was free and worked perfectly!) and extends up pretty high. I am 5'5'' and it is a bit above my head, and it is fairly level. I thought after a few weeks of moving them consistently every night they might get the idea but no such luck. I put up some wire where they were roosting on the fence but they just moved down the fence a ways.

    I looked at several other posts and most of the solutions required covering the areas where the chickens were attempting to roost etc. I would have cooped them all up in the house for a bit to get them used to roosting inside but it has just been so hot and I didn't want them to peck each other to death in such close quarters. I feel like they avoid the chicken house at all costs since they spent their first couple of months cooped up inside of it.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Now that it has cooled off, should I shut them in the chicken house for a few days or a week or so to get them roosting inside? Should i just keep moving them every night? I would hate for someone to get eaten by an owl or hawk, it is only a matter of time. Something has been eating our eggs if I am not able to collect them in the evening which has only been like twice, so something knows they are there. We have plans to remove the large tree from the chicken yard that half of them love to roost on, just got to find time to do it. But they have so much fun climbing on it that I almost want to leave it! And I am not sure what to do about the ones on the fence, even if we remove the tree, I can't remove the fence!. Never had this problem with my chickens before, they all had no issue roosting inside. I'm sorry if this has been asked multiple times, I did do a search but none of the posts really had any ideas I felt would work for my situation??

    Any ideas or suggestions for my stubborn ladies?? Thanks in advance!!

    P.S. I can take some pics later after I get home if I can figure out how to post them from my phone.... Going to the lake tonight so I wont have access to computer til later this weekend.
     
  2. WVForestGirl

    WVForestGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure if I understand correctly but could you go out in the evening and rattle a can of scratch to call them into the house and then just lock them in for the night?
     
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  3. littlechicks02

    littlechicks02 Out Of The Brooder

    I think that you probably should shut them in at night, maybe you could make the coop more ventilated. The ladies might prefer cool night breeze to stuffy hot air. Hope that helped!
     
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  4. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Texas
    I have tried, they still are not keen on the idea!! :( I have to wait for them to get settled for the night and then move them one by one into the coop to roost. I am wondering if I shut them in the coop for an extended time, like several days, and they had nowhere to roost but there, would they maybe get the idea that they are supposed to roost there? I figured they would kinda get the idea if I moved them each night and they woke up every morning in the coop on that roost, but no luck.

    I had a fan in the window to blow in fresh air, but they don't seem to care!! I have been manually relocating them every night to the coop to roost but they still want to roost outside. I wish they would roost inside on their own so that I don't have to worry about them when I am not home!!

    I am attaching some pics of the coop, I know its not the most beautiful thing, but I have never had an issue with the chickens not wanting to roost in it before, just this group is so stubborn. I know that we need to build a better roost, but my poor boyfriend has 2 jobs and we are literally never home at the same time long enough to get it done. I think it is a decent enough size, and the window offers decent air flow. I had to move their nesting box outside of the chicken coop because they refused to use it inside. Literally went from laying their eggs where ever they wanted in the yard, to using the nesting box immediately after I moved it outside. I don't know why they hate being inside so bad!
    [​IMG]
    I usually leave the door closed more than this, but I was hoping by opening it wider that they would be more likely to come in, but no luck.

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    This is the tree that fell in the yard a few weeks ago. They were all huddling on the ground or roosting on the fence, but the ground huddlers moved to this branch. They love to play on it during the day, so I hate to get rid of it, but I don't know how else to get them to stop roosting on it.

    [​IMG]
    This is the section of fence that the remaining ladies choose to roost on. I had this smaller section of wire, so I covered their normal roosting spot with it to see if it discouraged them, at first they awkwardly tried to roost in the same place but after a few days they just moved to a new section of the fence. I have a roll of wire I am going to try to place along this whole side of fence and see if that discourages them. I can get rid of the tree that fell so they cant roost on it, but I cant get rid of the fence!! I can only try to make it higher. I even clipped their wings and they are still able to get up here.

    [​IMG]
    This is the "free" roost I put in the chicken house. They LOVED playing on this, and were always on it so I thought maybe they would enjoy roosting on it, but no such luck!!! You can see the smaller roost they had as chicks in the background there. I really need to build them something proper!!

    [​IMG]
    This is the window from the inside.... I think it is decent size and should offer them a decent amount of air flow. I removed the fan to clean it so it is not in the pic, but there is usually a fan in the window to circulate the air better.

    [​IMG]
    This is them last night after I relocated everyone. They were not happy with me.


    I just want them to roost in the safety of the coop, but they would rather be outside. I have never had this hard of a time getting chickens to use their roost. Granted their roost is just a big stick right now, but its a big stick they loved until I moved it inside!! Even if I were to build them a legitimate proper roost tonight they would still ignore it. I just need to know how to change their habits I guess.
     
  5. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    We are going camping this weekend and they are going to absolutely hate me but I think I may confine them to the chicken coop the two days and nights we are gone, does anyone see a problem with this? Is that too close of quarters to keep them confined in for 48ish hours? Do you think this will even encourage them to roost inside the coop?? I just want them to stop roosting outside in the open!


    I do not usually close the coop door at night, I usually leave it open. Should I just make a habit of closing them in every night? Never really done that for any of the chickens we have ever had and never really had a problem, but seems like a lot of yall do shut them in at night??


    anyone have any suggestions or words of wisdom?? help! Moving them all every night is getting OLD!
     
  6. Mutt Farm

    Mutt Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi! IMO, I'd coop them up while you're gone. If you get them used to having a delicious treat every time you call them to the coop, they will come running! I used freeze dried meal worms and watermelon. If you start IN the coop with the treats, keep repeating your call while they are munching, they will quickly associate the coop and your call with delicious delicacies.
    For the barbed wire, you could attach some floppy chicken wire so they don't have a landing spot, they just fall right back down into their yard.

    ETA: I would add extra feeders and waterers and maybe a flake of alfalfa to be sure they don't squabble over food and have some greens to scratch at for boredom.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  7. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Texas
    Thanks for the sugestions!!! I will try that this weekend. They usually come running and are stuck up my butt no matter what I have with me, but i can never get them to come into the coop, they hate it! I have a big container of table scraps I have been saving specifically for luring them into it, because they love table scraps more than anything in this world! Tonight, I think I will shut them in and leave them until we get home sunday night, since we will leave friday afternoon well before they come in for the night.

    I was worried about them pecking each other to death while being cooped up in there for that long since we did have a problem with that when they were younger, but if you think they will be fine I'll give it a whirl! I just hope maybe they will get the idea and start roosting in there on their own. I do not want to lose them to owls at night!

    I will definitely give them some alfalfa and other munchies for while I am gone, and maybe I should start trying to feed them everything I give them exclusively INSIDE the coop? Think that would get them to not hate it so much?? They free range so they dont really touch their layer pellets or scratch that is in the coop but they never pass up scraps.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. Bryant Redhawk

    Bryant Redhawk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First thing I would do is get their roost inside where they can look out that window while on the roost. Might be good to have two bars for the roost (you should be able to utilize parts of that fallen tree for that). Next thing to do is get rid of the tree that fell, while it seems like a good idea to leave it, all you are really doing is telling them it is ok to roost there, and you sound like it isn't, that means it has to go.

    The fence roosting is a problem, you need to make it uncomfortable for them to roost there. Chickens like a stable roost so fix the barbed wire so they will constantly wobble around if they try to roost there. That is the easy fix. The hard fix is to raise the fence height to over 8 feet. A chicken can make incredible jumps, some can jump 7 feet straight up, this makes it hard to keep them off unless you have the top of the fence higher than they can jump. Combine that with a wobbly feature and the girls will most likely find a different, more stable place to roost. That will be in the coop since you removed the fallen tree prior to raising and wobbling the fence top.

    By the way, predators also hate wobbly fences, so they probably won't try to climb over more than a few times either.
     
  9. Mutt Farm

    Mutt Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    You are welcome. Yes, I would feed them their snacks only in the coop in the evening. You didn't mention whether they are meat or egg birds or their ages. I assume they are eggers? Be a little mindful that for health and good egg production, "technically"* snacks should be only 10% of the diet. Scratch is low protein and not nutritionally complete, shouldn't be fed during hot weather and sould be accompanied with grit for digestion. I use a little, but prefer FD meal worms, Alfalfa (both good protein sources) and cheap rolled horse oats. Also, if they don't fall in love with their nest boxes, you'll be searching everywhere for the eggs.
    * There are plenty of folks that free range on lush farms with plenty of bugs and grains and poop and table scraps and stuff that don't even buy chicken feed. It's a personal thing.
     
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  10. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    They are just for eggs, not sure I could eat one of my ladies lol. They really do not get much scratch, i just toss about one cup of it in with their pellets (I usually take a 2 quart container full of feed out every few days, so one cup mixed in with that amount), or out on the ground, but they usually do not eat it all, they are too busy foraging for something much tastier. There are tons and tons of leaf litter in the woods surrounding our house and they have been going to town eating worms and bugs. They have faithfully returned to their nesting boxes day after day to lay their eggs, so... so far so good on that. They refused to lay in the boxes when they were inside the coop but since I moved them outside they use them faithfully.

    My whole life we have had chickens and I had never heard that about scratch until I came to this board lol! Learn something new every day! I will try to cut back on the scratch I give them. They really do not eat much feed at all, and I could definitely go without buying it since they have been free ranging, but I do offer it just in case they need or want it. I just made a trip to the feed store and got some alfalfa cubes, I plan on soaking them and then giving it to them while we are gone for the weekend. After reading a few things, i figured cubes would be the best route. I also got them some oyster shells even tho I also offer them crushed egg shells. I have also looked into raising meal worms since the freeze dried ones are sooooooooooo expensive!! I have a hen recovering from a broken leg right now and she would absolutely love some mealworms as I think she has gotten bored not being able to forage!

    Again thanks for your suggestions!! I will let you know how it all works out! Maybe I will manage to change their ways and the way they feel about the coop lol.
     

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