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Suddenly they won't go in the coop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kharmon320, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chirping

    Sep 6, 2015
    South Carolina
    I have 3 pullets (14 weeks). They have been in an enclosed run (with roof, predator proof, etc) with a coop inside of the run. The girls have been putting themselves in the coop at night since they were 6 weeks old. They still huddle up on the floor and won't get on the roost bar. However, tonight my husband went out to lock them up (in the smaller coop) and they were all on the floor of the run in the corner. I checked out the coop and don't see anything in it that would spook them. There were a fair number of small feathers on the floor of the run in a spot, but everyone seemed fine. I see no evidence that any animal has been on the outside of the enclosure.

    I picked them up and put them in there. They didn't want to settle down to begin with, but when I checked again a few minutes later two of the three were huddled up in the corner (normal spot). To summarize, they've been putting themselves up every night for 8 weeks, but tonight stayed out of the coop and huddled up on the floor in a corner (and they were getting misty rain on them). Any thoughts?


  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Almost all young ones go through a faze of not going in the coop, they start trying to stay outside and sleep in different places, it's possible they were just frightened by something, otherwise expect them to try it again.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It sounds like these are the only chickens in there? If there are other older ones in there there can be an easy explanation.

    That pile of feathers sounds a little suspicious but one may be going through a juvenile molt or maybe they had a pecking order dispute that cost one a few feathers.

    At fourteen weeks it’s a little early for them to be hitting puberty. When those hormones start flowing strange things can happen.

    It’s also time for them to start roosting. Most of my brooder raised chicks start roosting around 10 to 12 weeks, though I’ve had some start at 5 weeks and some go a whole lot longer than 12 weeks. Maybe it’s something related to that, but that may be a stretch.

    Did you have any changes down there, especially related to lighting? Did something change so it’s too dark for them to see in there to put themselves to bed in the coop? Sometimes just minor changes to layout can upset them.

    Did you give them treats or something just before bedtime so they were out of their normal go-to-bed routine? A lady on the sister gardening site posted about your exact problem a couple of years back. Turned out she’d given them treats at bedtime and disrupted their routine. That was easy to solve once we knew what the problem was but it took a lot of discussion to get to the root of the problem. Sometimes it can be something this simple.

    It sounds a lot like something could have frightened them in the coop, maybe hours before. Anything like a predator such as a rat or maybe just a change that looks really innocent to you. Sometimes these things can be really difficult to figure out, but the solution is to keep putting them inside until they get back to putting themselves to bed. But also look at how dark it is in there. If it’s too dark for them to see, you may need a dim light or maybe a small window.

    Good luck!
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Is there a window? Lighting in the coop, IMO is very important. As RR said, any thing could have spooked them, even a mouse. Perhaps you have an infestation of red mites. You'll have to do a thorough inspection of the coop after dark to determine that. Do a thread search for information on what to look for.
  5. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chirping

    Sep 6, 2015
    South Carolina
    Thanks for all of the advice/suggestions. They went in last night without assistance.

    There is not a window on the coop. I was given the little coop, but we plan to build a bigger one in a few months. It was dreary and rainy both days, so I thought maybe it got too dark earlier than normal and then they just settled down in the run. Last night, I left the side door open (as well as the little door). This allowed more light into the coop. Not sure if that helped or not. I may have my husband cut a window in the front above the release door.

    I need to read up on the mites and make sure they don't have a problem. That did cross my mind, but I don't know how to check the birds. I'll see if it's just a fluke or not. I wish they would start roosting soon. It will make cleaning the coop easier.

    Thanks again!

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