They choose to sleep outside...

Chickens choose to sleep in outside pen in 20 degrees F, should I ...

  • Force them in the coop.

    Votes: 13 41.9%
  • Let them be.

    Votes: 18 58.1%

  • Total voters
    31

CheepThrillsAcres

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2018
10
12
14
Greetings!

I have run across some unusual (to me) chicken behavior, my flock just will not sleep inside the coop.

My background. Originally from upstate New York (basically Canada), my childhood was spent on a small farm with cows that we boarded / raised / slaughtered, and chickens that we kept for food. Our chickens would roam the farm by day and return to the barn by night (especially during the winter -30F nights).
Fast-forward 30 years, I now live in Central Virginia, on a small 5-acre plot, on which I decided to keep chickens. I converted a kid play house into a coop, and fenced a 20x30x10 foot box around it all so no chickens can get out, and no nightmares can get in. During the day, they roam the big yard, but at dusk, they return to their cage/ coop, but they just sleep outside on the railing of the coop deck. I am not worried about them being eaten (Great Pyrenees roams the rest of the acres by night); I am more worried about them getting cold. At night in the winter, the temperatures can drop to 15F though it is usually in the 28 to 40F range. They show no signs of cold weather exposure; I just want to know that they have enough self-preservation to go in if they get too cold.

Flock Count 17: Mix of Orphington, Barred Rock, RIR, Americana, Silver Laced Wyandotte, and Svart Hona


Thank you for your help!

See the railing where they sleep in this picture:
coop.png
 
Last edited:

Melky

Spring has sprung!
Jul 23, 2018
3,884
18,764
882
Edgewood, KY
My Coop
My Coop
You could provide pictures for us to evaluate the coop. In general just make sure that they have enough space 4 sq ft per bird in the coop. Roosting bars that are easily accessible. 1o-12 inches of roosting space per bird. Make sure clean and ok. I put mine in when went below 30 degrees as their first year. I did this everyday for a week. Now mine take themselves up at night. Sometimes it’s just training. You can let them fall asleep and 30 min after dark go in and take off outside roost and put in for about a week and then usually they follow on their own.
 

wyoDreamer

Crowing
9 Years
Nov 10, 2010
4,720
5,716
411
NE Wisconsin
Do you have a light in the coop? My birds go into the coop at sunset because the auto-timer turns the light on and they go in and grab a bite to eat before they settle on the roosts. But, my coop only has one window on the east end of the coop and it gets pretty dark in there towards sunset.

It may be too dark in the coop by the time that they are ready to roost for the night and they can't see in there to roost.

Yesterday I left the coop light on all day because it was cold, rainy and windy - a dark and gloomy day. I know they don't like to be outside in the rain on windy days. I threw some BOSS onto the litter and they spent the day fluffing the looking for treats, lol! :wee
I didn't get out there until 8:30 and they were all on the roosts and set for the night - I even got a couple of eyeballs that said to me "its about time you turn of the #%$!&# light". :lol:
 

CheepThrillsAcres

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2018
10
12
14
You could provide pictures for us to evaluate the coop. In general just make sure that they have enough space 4 sq ft per bird in the coop. Roosting bars that are easily accessible. 1o-12 inches of roosting space per bird. Make sure clean and ok. I put mine in when went below 30 degrees as their first year. I did this everyday for a week. Now mine take themselves up at night. Sometimes it’s just training. You can let them fall asleep and 30 min after dark go in and take off outside roost and put in for about a week and then usually they follow on their own.
I'll take pictures of the inside when I get home from work, and update, but it's basically a 6 foot and a 4 foot water troth stacked on their sides full of hay and partitioned for laying boxes which they use and about 30 ft of perches along the other walls, about 3.5 foot off the ground. I clean out all the hay every 2 to 3 weeks, but they are only ever inside for food, drink, and laying so it's remarkably clean for a chicken coop.
 

CheepThrillsAcres

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2018
10
12
14
Do you have a light in the coop? My birds go into the coop at sunset because the auto-timer turns the light on and they go in and grab a bite to eat before they settle on the roosts. But, my coop only has one window on the east end of the coop and it gets pretty dark in there towards sunset.

It may be too dark in the coop by the time that they are ready to roost for the night and they can't see in there to roost.

Yesterday I left the coop light on all day because it was cold, rainy and windy - a dark and gloomy day. I know they don't like to be outside in the rain on windy days. I threw some BOSS onto the litter and they spent the day fluffing the looking for treats, lol! :wee
I didn't get out there until 8:30 and they were all on the roosts and set for the night - I even got a couple of eyeballs that said to me "its about time you turn of the #%$!&# light". :lol:
HAHA that's great :) No I don't have a light but they have a eastern and southern window, and the flood lights off the house illuminate the coop until about 1930.

Mine seem impervious to weather, rain, snow they just hop around searching for grubs.

I'll try adding a light, and see if they are interested. Thank you for your advice!
 

Melky

Spring has sprung!
Jul 23, 2018
3,884
18,764
882
Edgewood, KY
My Coop
My Coop
Your spacing sounds fine. The height of a perch is a little high. They usually recommend not over 30 inches for a roosting bar as chickens are ground dwellers and this reduces risk of keel bone injuries. So the rest is just training them. I do keep a solar lantern hanging right outside the coop window so there is some gentle glow lighting the way.
 

CheepThrillsAcres

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2018
10
12
14
Your spacing sounds fine. The height of a perch is a little high. They usually recommend not over 30 inches for a roosting bar as chickens are ground dwellers and this reduces risk of keel bone injuries. So the rest is just training them. I do keep a solar lantern hanging right outside the coop window so there is some gentle glow lighting the way.
I'll try lowering them a bit, they 'fly' from the ground to the rail, so I've never considered the height to be a possible culprit. Will do some rearranging and training and see how that goes. Thank you for your help :)
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Premium member
Mar 11, 2017
7,030
17,546
612
South Park, Colorado, USA
I think the bigger question is WHY aren't they roosting in the coop.

You said you have 30 ft. of perches. How many chickens do you have? Are all the perches the same height? How far is the perch from the coop wall, floor, ceiling? How wide, or what is the diameter of the perch? What is the perch made of?

Have you checked your coop/birds for evidence of mites? Mice? anything else that might be disturbing to the birds?
 
Top Bottom