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suggestions? some of my hens won't go to bed

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mudhen, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
    I usually let my girls out of their run to forage in the daytime when I can keep an eye on them. Normally, when it gets to dusk, they return to the run and into their coop for the night. I only do this when the weather is good and if I am at home to watch the sky for hawks. Otherwise, they have their big covered/protected run to romp in.
    So here's the thing: a couple of weeks ago, after our snow, I let the girls out and they enjoyed their day, but four of them must of got snow blind, or just plain disoriented and didn't return on their own.
    I found them after dark as I walked to my studio. They were wandering aimlessly andwere lethargic from the cold, so I picked them up and put them in the run. Didn't let the flock out of the run for several days until most the snow melted. But, once again, two of them didn't find their way in for the evening. So I put them in myself.
    Interestingly enough, they weren't the same ones that had done that before.
    So, no out-of-run foraging time until today, no snow on the ground, temp nice, perfect. All come out, enjoy their day, then I go out at night to close the run, and what do I see? My black australorp sitting in the middle of the yard. If it wasn't for my having turned on the porch light, I wouldn't have seen her silhouette there.
    So what is this new behaviour all about? No snow, so that's out. It was never the same ones, so I can't say its one or two renegades. The weather was good. They're fed, watered, heated coop, spoiled, clean nests, laying everyday....

    I just don't know what to make of this new, apparently random, behavior, but I am hoping some of you more experienced folks might have some suggestions, ideas?
  2. Bravo

    Bravo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2009
    Maybe try putting a light in the coop and setting a light timer to turn it on a half hour before sunset? It would turn the coop into a beacon for them to find their way back into?

    Just a thought [​IMG]
  3. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    Did you check inside the coop? Maybe there is something in there that's scaring them? Maybe a small animal gnawing on the outside to get in or something. Other than that.......[​IMG] It IS interesting seeing how they behave though......Let us know what you find out!
  4. FortWorthChicks

    FortWorthChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2009
    Fort Worth
    Yep Im thinking along the lines with lunachick. Seems like chewing on wood makes an unfriendly noise and could be bothering them. I would check around for something inside or outside the coop.
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Not sure why their behavior would have changed (although I do understand during the snow situation...snow confuses me too...lol). I would try a light out there. I turn their light on an hour or so before dark and they begin heading that way as it darkens. Is there a chance there was a light on elsewhere for a while when it was getting dark? A porch light, a motion light, light pouring out through a window or something else? If so, maybe they stayed out with that bit of light, and then it got shut off or whatever and they were caught in the dark...??? Just a possibility.
  6. lakeman

    lakeman Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 22, 2010
    Abbevill SC
    Check all of the laying nest, to see if there is a snake curled up in one with bulges where he has swallowed an egg, or eggs.
  7. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
    Those are great ideas. Will put a light up for them on the outside entrance and inside the coop on a timer. [​IMG]
    As far as the predator goes...hmmm. Possible, saw some signs of it a few weeks ago, but nothing disturbed in coop. Of course if it is a weasel/ferret maybe it is taking eggs? It is possible I suppose a snake, but I always thought (hoped!) snakes hibernate in winter. Who knows, maybe heat lamp in coop is giving some scaly black snake a warm home.[​IMG]
    The coop has a door that closes automatically a couple of hours after sunset and reopens in early am.
    Thank you all.
    I'm going to make sure no snake is sleeping under the hay and that nothing is scaring my girls.
    Will keep you posted!
  8. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    Check at night for mites as well. When they won't go in the coop, or won't go on the perches suddenly- it is often that the coop has been overrun with red roost mites. Go out late at night and shine a bright light on the walls and perches. Look for moving grey and red dots. If you find them, they are biting the chickens at night. They do not live on the chickens, and you will need to clean and spray the coop and cracks with insecticide.
  9. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
    [​IMG] will look tonight. Only can see them at night? The girls aren't scratching or not perching on their roosts, so I hope it isn't that. I'll let you guys know later....
  10. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    they only come out at night- which is why the hens will lay in the boxes fine, but don't want to go in the coop at night.


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