Spoiled Hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by betsycam, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. betsycam

    betsycam Out Of The Brooder

    15
    0
    22
    Oct 9, 2013
    So, I probably went about everything the wrong way, but here's the outline:

    I bought 6 pullet chicks of unknown breed from TSC in March, raised them up indoors with a lamp, and then my husband built them a nice coop that has about 12 "boxes" for them to lay, basically dividers that form spaces for them to lay. Kept them locked in there until I felt they were old and big enough to free range. One thing we did wrong is that we built the coop free-standing on stilts with no run. So surprise, when let out, they chose to roost in a small Sequoia tree near the coop!

    Turns out they are white leghorns. When it came time to start laying, we found a few eggs, but then I went on my vacation and my DH, left behind to watch over things, said they weren't laying much. Turns out the girls were going into the shop and hiding their eggs in communal nests! When I got home I found 80 eggs stashed in four different locations! After I collected the eggs they seemed to try to find new spots to lay, apparently upset that I had disrupted the current locations. They are quite prolific: each lays an egg every day!

    So, we closed them out of the shop, and I put some duck eggs inside the coop to give them the idea. They did start laying in the coop, one nest! But, then I was gone for 10 days and my DH said they had quit laying in the coop. It may be that he was collecting all the eggs at once and they didn't like that. When I got back, I found a nest they had formed in one of the Sequoias next to their roosting tree - a perfect platform formed by lower branches, quite a lovely, hidden spot!

    So, on recommendation from a friend, I locked them up in the coop for about a week. They got laying in one nest again, and I tried to leave behind eggs when collecting them so that they wouldn't feel the need to change things up again.

    Yesterday I let them out after they laid their eggs, so they could forage, since those are the tastiest eggs :) They went for the roost tree at bedtime, but I managed to get them into the coop and gave them a nice reward of mealworms inside. Today, same thing - they went for the roost tree.

    We are fenced in so the usual threats, coyotes or foxes, can't come in, and our dogs partrol the area they cruise. We don't seem to have raccoons, the biggest foe my fowl have encountered when I lived elsewhere. Should I let them roost in the tree? Or should I clip their wings so they have no choice but to use the coop? I'd like to build a run around the coop but that may take some time, and since I want them to free-range for forage, I'd be letting them out anyway. Winter is coming and I fear for their health and comfort roosting in that tree. How do I get these girls to get with my program?
     
  2. smallbluejellybean

    smallbluejellybean Chillin' With My Peeps

    597
    10
    143
    Dec 13, 2009
    Kings Park NSW Australia
    Chop down the tree!
    Just kidding, my chickens are spoiled too. I am getting worried about my chickens in a similar way to what you are. They don't want to go to bed in their coop and sometimes the whole family has to get out their to get them in for the night. I don't want to clip their wings either, as I think this prevents them getting away from predators and I love them free ranging.
    Can't wait for a solution for this question.
     
  3. betsycam

    betsycam Out Of The Brooder

    15
    0
    22
    Oct 9, 2013
    Well, glad I'm not the only one! I feel bad for my DH who spent his precious time building them their coop - the girls are dissing him! LOL! I also am reluctant to clip their wings. Added bonus to them roosting in the tree: don't have to clean the coop very often!
     
  4. betsycam

    betsycam Out Of The Brooder

    15
    0
    22
    Oct 9, 2013
    This is a follow-up: I put shut them in their coop for a week and then let them free again but they still chose the tree to roost in. So, around dusk, I'd use a broom handle to bump them out of the tree. Then, they would go into the coop, where I had dried mealworms waiting for them. Now, for the most part, they have been putting themselves to bed in their coop even before I have a chance to put mealworms in there for them! If they do roost in the tree and it has gotten too dark, they just climb higher in the tree when I try to bump them out so I just leave them and hope for better the next day. We're moving in the right direction, though.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by