Teaching them to go into the coop when it's dark

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,015
4,803
346
Illinois
I have tried putting a light in the coop to attract them at night(turning it off once they are in)--doesn't work. I have tried letting it get dark and it's literally pitch black and they are roosting outside--some are walking around and scratching for food.

People say chickens can't see in the dark, but mine seem to be able to just fine. I'm talking no light, not even a dim light.

This all started when it started getting dark out earlier. The four younger ones have always been an issue. Every now and then they might go in i their own. Now the 3 older ones and the rooster are making it a routine.

I'm not chasing chickens around when it gets to be 20 degrees and below. They are being very stubborn.

If I keep them in the coop consistently for a period of time, will they get it?

How many days do I leave them in there with no run time for this to work? They are almost 8 months and 6 months.
 

Chickassan

Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
14,849
74,198
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Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
I trained mine with treats. Gave them superworms in the coop at roost time. They started to recognise the cup and would run inside for worms. After a while I just used an empty cup and only once in a while had worms. Now they'll run in based on a slim chance. Older ones just go, if they get worms great if not oh well.:)
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,944
37,412
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southern Michigan
I'd wonder if your coop is too small, or unappealing in some way.
My birds are out there by three weeks of age, in their own section, and have no problems going to bed at night, usually.
This summer two of the bantam pullets wanted to roost outside, and I was out there in the dark with a flashlight and net getting them in, for about three nights. It was a pain, but succeeded in retraining them.
It can help to call them in with a treat, and do watch everyone late in the day, to roosting time, to see where the issues are. Maybe you have a bully, or some other social issue that's causing this problem.
Birds who roost outside of a safe area will get killed, sooner or later, so do get this fixed.
Mary
 
Jul 3, 2018
372
514
177
Ohio
I have tried putting a light in the coop to attract them at night(turning it off once they are in)--doesn't work. I have tried letting it get dark and it's literally pitch black and they are roosting outside--some are walking around and scratching for food.

People say chickens can't see in the dark, but mine seem to be able to just fine. I'm talking no light, not even a dim light.

This all started when it started getting dark out earlier. The four younger ones have always been an issue. Every now and then they might go in i their own. Now the 3 older ones and the rooster are making it a routine.

I'm not chasing chickens around when it gets to be 20 degrees and below. They are being very stubborn.

If I keep them in the coop consistently for a period of time, will they get it?

How many days do I leave them in there with no run time for this to work? They are almost 8 months and 6 months.
I spent a lot of time “homing” my chickens to the coop. And when i had an egg laying issue i had to do it again and they were locked up for a week so i could monitor the situation.

I definitely have noticed as it gets darker earlier they take more time to adjust. But then after a few days they seem to figure it out.

I often times have to call them back from the neighbors yard. I use both meal worms or black oily sunflower seeds. I put a scoop on the metal can lid that i store them in and i shake it around and call them kind of like dogs. At first they were not too sure of this method but after a day or 2 now i can just call them with no lid and they come back to the yard. I had to get them in the coop the other day due to some bad storms coming through and the lid shake worked like a charm.

Good luck!
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,015
4,803
346
Illinois
They all lay their eggs in the coop. I see them going in and out during the day. The oyster shell is in there too.

They are still not fully integrated.

I have flaps on the doors which not all of them will go through, so I lifted a couple flaps--that worked. The boy is still unsure but all the girls use it.

The boy did the turn around. Like clockwork he went in and at the very least do did the two older girls. He used to roost in one area and then switched to another roost in the coop. Now he is staying out with the younger girls that is causing the two older ones to stay out.

He is clearly dividing his time between the two groups of girls.

I have been using mealworms to get them in. The problem? If I don't get all of them in fast enough, the older ones eat them up like a vacuum and are trying to come back out before the younger ones know what happened.
 
Jul 3, 2018
372
514
177
Ohio
They all lay their eggs in the coop. I see them going in and out during the day. The oyster shell is in there too.

They are still not fully integrated.

I have flaps on the doors which not all of them will go through, so I lifted a couple flaps--that worked. The boy is still unsure but all the girls use it.

The boy did the turn around. Like clockwork he went in and at the very least do did the two older girls. He used to roost in one area and then switched to another roost in the coop. Now he is staying out with the younger girls that is causing the two older ones to stay out.

He is clearly dividing his time between the two groups of girls.

I have been using mealworms to get them in. The problem? If I don't get all of them in fast enough, the older ones eat them up like a vacuum and are trying to come back out before the younger ones know what happened.
So i keep shaking until they are all in. I may drop some on the floor a little bit at a time so they don’t actually start pecking my legs. And then when they are all in i dump the rest and latch the door!
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,015
4,803
346
Illinois
I'd wonder if your coop is too small, or unappealing in some way.
My birds are out there by three weeks of age, in their own section, and have no problems going to bed at night, usually.
This summer two of the bantam pullets wanted to roost outside, and I was out there in the dark with a flashlight and net getting them in, for about three nights. It was a pain, but succeeded in retraining them.
It can help to call them in with a treat, and do watch everyone late in the day, to roosting time, to see where the issues are. Maybe you have a bully, or some other social issue that's causing this problem.
Birds who roost outside of a safe area will get killed, sooner or later, so do get this fixed.
Mary

Technically the run is probably safe enough for them to be out there, but I'm a worrier. The electric fence is all the way around and it's hardware cloth from top to bottom and two feet out on the ground(apron).

The problem I'm going to have is it will be dark by the time I get home, so either I leave them in the complete dark or have the light in the coop and run on until I get home. That is going to confuse the heck out of them.
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,015
4,803
346
Illinois
do people actually let them sleep in runs at night?

I'm so afraid to do that. I don't think I could rest knowing they were not locked up.

This is a view from up high of run. The electric fence runs all the way around on the bottom and there is a strand up half way up all the way around. I have wire around the top on the back side and the one short side to the left of the gate. The netting is a very heavy duty net that overlaps on on all sides, so there is no openings. Hardware cloth out 2 ft on the ground all the way around. I check everything daily for signs of attempted break ins.

image.jpg
 

Helloworld

Songster
Jul 17, 2018
794
1,695
197
Down on the Suwannee River
The problem may be your plastic strips. For mine, I use old moving blankets that you can get usually from Craigslist cheap and I have an extra large dog cage. I place hay inside and leave door open. We cover the cage completely, allowing enough to hang over and have just enough for them to duck -lol under. I have two separate coops. One for those who will be eaten and one for eggs and love. Every set I replace, the new ones always use it. Also, with exception to nest boxes hanging on the wall, they have nowhere else to go. Mine are well aware of sky monsters lol. So, it may be plastic or you have too many choices for them to go. Love your coop and I can definately see why they would not want to go to bed! Lol Nice but maybe too much. Maybe this will help! Good luck! No frets... chickens were made to drive us crazy!
 

MANNA-PRO

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