Stupid question?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Dale.Z, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Dale.Z

    Dale.Z New Egg

    Oct 11, 2011
    I am new here and not sure where to post this stupid question but I really want to make sure I am doing things right as to my responsibility of raising chickens.

    My 1st attempt with chickens did not go so well. In the spring I bought six hens and housed them in a 12’x21’ dog kennel and made some nesting boxes inside and for five months enjoyed there company and there delicious eggs. Then to my horror last week a raccoon burrow under the kennel and killed all my birds. So we decided that if we were to continue this practice of raising chickens then a coop is a must and so I built one and am staring over.

    My 1st attempt I bought adult hens but at 12 to 15 dollars a pop that just wasn’t in the budget this time so I went the long way and raised 8 birds from week old chicks. They are now almost 9 wks and fully feathered and doing great!
    My brooder was a 4’x8’ freestanding cage/pen sort of like what people raise rabbits in. I lined it with plenty of bedding and covered it with tarps at night and used a heat lamp to keep them warm.

    OK now the stage is set for the stupid question.

    Yesterday I finished the coop and transferred the chicks to their new home. Inside the coop I have built a nice roost with a ladder for them to access their perch and one also to get in and out of the coop. I have not let them out of the coop yet, allowing them adjust to their new home but how will they know to use the ladder or (tractor I think some people call them) to get back inside the coop? Do I have to run around and try to catch them and put them up for the night? I know it sounds silly but they made it this far and I don’t want to experience what happened the 1st time.

    I can’t believe I am asking this but any advice would be appreciated.
  2. Gallusfarm

    Gallusfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2009

    Don't worry, most of us had the exact same question.

    If you have left them in the coop for about a week, let them out int he late afternoon at first. They will know that the coop is home base - they'll proably putter around the yard a bit, but won't go very far. When dusk comes, they will most certainly go into the area of the coop. They will probably want to perch on the ladder going in the frist night, but some will probably go all the way in. You certainly won't be chasing them around the yard. They will want to be very close to their home base.

    Good luck!!

    edit to say, there's a chance they will want to sleep on the floor of the coop, that's OK, some take a little longer than others to start sleeping on the roosts, but it will happen in time.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  3. PegramPoultryProprietor

    PegramPoultryProprietor Out Of The Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    No stupid question here. Ok, yes you may have to do some training. I usually have a dim light when I first move young ones outside. I lost a couple from piling up so that’s just my thing. They are used to sleeping with some light on so don't be afraid to leave it on; it will help them get used to their new home. Maybe just a nightlight If you place the in their new sleeping quarters after dusk they will most likely stay there; they are pretty much blind at night. It won't take long; they are real creatures of habit and train easily. I’m guessing if they have been calling the coop home for more than a few days now, and they were left out to return home, most would be either in your coop or next to it by dark.
  4. rngrbill

    rngrbill Chillin' With My Peeps

    I assume that you are still using the 12’x21’ dog kennel for the run. I just left mine in the coop for 24 hours before letting them out. they did just fine, Except I put a roost about 4 feet off the ground in my run. My two NHR, the bottom of the pecking order, started to spend the night there. I had to manually pick them up and put them in the coop. after the second night I removed the roost and no problem. Just replaced it and they seem to have gotten the idea as the nights are cooler. Have you done anything to discourage the raccoon? You should really sink hardware cloth about 12 -18 inches in the ground around the parimeter of the run. I've seen here that just pinning it down on top of the grass will do the job but make sure that it is secured to the run so they can't get through it. Good Luck [​IMG] [​IMG] and sorry for your loss. [​IMG]
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    If they have been confined to the coop for a while, they know where it is at bedtime. My 20 chickens all over the yard all put themselves to bed. I just close the door.
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I've never put a light in my coop to teach them to go in at night, and I've never had a problem with them going in on their own. I've also never had to close them in the coop to teach them where to go at night. Actually I've never had to teach them to use the roosts, either, but then I didn't expect them all to use it until they reached point of lay or started crowing. I believe this is because there is plenty of natural light in the coop, so they naturally go to an enclosed place (the coop) around dusk. I've often wondered whether people who had to use a night light to get them in the coop do not have enough natural light. Of course there could be other problems such as not enough ventilation or a predator in the coop, even rats or a snake. Or my chickens simply like being in a coop more than some others do. Who knows?

    And I definitely agree, there are no stupid questions here! We were all beginners at one time.
  7. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2011
    Indiana, PA
    My girls are 6 wks old, spent 4 days and nights in the coop, it took a couple of nights for them to start roosting, now they all roost. We finished the run Sat late afternoon and they have all gone back in the coop to roost at dusk! I am always amazed at how nature works! Best of luck with your new flock!
  8. AV Brahmas

    AV Brahmas Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2011
    The Great White North
    That's not a stupid question. First....generally the term "tractor" when used with chickens indicates a smallish building and attached pen with wheels that can be moved from spot to spot each day and spread the wealth of manure on the ground. Raise your meat birds in one in the fall and place it over a large garden and you will have fertilized it well.

    Your birds will get the idea very quickly. If you leave them in the building for several days and then open the door and let them come out on their own then almost 100% should have it down. If one or two stay out just pick them up and put them on a perch inside. They will not like being grabbed in the dark and it will not take long before they decide that outside is not a fun place to be at night. Be sure to count heads before you close up every night. This is a ritual around here.

    Good luck with these. Sadly, a huge percentage of new raisers learn the raccoon lesson the same way you did. Including me when I was a little boy. [​IMG]
  9. CluckCluck18

    CluckCluck18 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2010
    Largo, FL
    I think we all had that question in the beginning, I know I did. Chickens can't see in the dark and they will make their way into the coop especially if they've been locked in for awhile. Hence the saying, " the chickens always come home to roost" I worried about that, too. The first night we sat out in the yard in case they needed help and we placed our bets on which one would go in first. They did it all with no help......up the ladder into the henhouse and up to the roosts. What good girls! You may have to help them a little but they get the hang of it pretty quick. Don't give up on chicken's a big challenge and you can get discouraged but it is such a joy and really adds something so great to your life:yiipchick
  10. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    Quote:I agree...I have never trained my hens...and I had them in the coop at 5 weeks old...they "get it" can throw a treat into the run I suppose to lure them in...then shut them inside...but by dusk they put themselves in..I just go shut the door.

    NO stupid questions! ever...

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by