They never leave the Coop!!??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by s6bee, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    Ok, I have 5, 9 wk. old pullets. Our coop is 18 sq. ft and the run is small ( it was built as a temp. run ). The girls, as I call them, hardly come out of thier coop? Is this normal? Is it due to the run being so small right now? I really shouldn't free range because of my suburban habitat and dogs, cats, etc.....but should I let them free range in the early a.m. and teach them to get back into the coop somehow? We plan on building them a larger run anyway, what is the recommended outside sq. footage and would that encourage them to come out more? I'm just afraid if they aren't happy and when they are laying age won't lay eggs?
    If I did decide to try and teach them to free range, how difficult is it to get them back inside the closed run? Do they tend to wander really far off?

    Any advice would be helpful
  2. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    I would think it unusual that they don't come out of coop even if run is small. Try and observe when they do come out if they seem to be scared of something or what they do when they do go in run compared to what are they doing in coop all day. The coop also sounds kind of small for 5 birds - are they just sitting on their roost all day long? I would think they do need sunshine and fresh air and exercise but obviously the factories get them to lay eggs without any of the above. I just find it unusual because mine free range all day and even if I leave them in their large 30 x 60 run they are always outside. The only time they go in their large coop is if it is storming really bad or at night when they put themselves to bed - or - YEAH, this week when the 4 have started laying - they go in coop, get in nest box, lay egg and get outside again.
  3. NewGuineaChooks

    NewGuineaChooks Songster

    Aug 24, 2007
    San Antonio, Texas
    If you'll be trying to have them free range for a bit, it's best to do that in the evening. Note what time dusk is in your area, and let them out for 30min to an hour before that time. When they are almost ready to sleep, they won't range very far, and will come back to the coop to get ready for bed at dusk. If you let them out in the morning, my experience is, that you'll be chasing chickens around the yard for 1/2 hour or more, trying to catch them again!

    Are your water and feed in the coop, or in the run? If you place them in the run, that will encourage the girls to move around more, and get a bit more excersize.

    There are threads on here about sq.ft. per chicken, that will give you precise answers, but I don't think the run being too small will keep them from going into it. I'd expect the opposite. Our birds (10) have a run that is 4ftx8ft. It's a bit crowded for them, but adequate when we can't let them free range. (they are usually completly free) They pace the edges trying to get out....if yours aren't doing that, they're probably happy.

    Our flocks, at various houses, have always had a standard area around the coop where they roam. maybe...about a 100ft. in each direction. (i'm bad at distance estimates)
  4. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    I have heard various advice on how much room they need. We built it with the expectations of getting 4 but of course they threw an extra in and they all survived. It works out to be just over 3 sq. ft. per bird. They have many windows built in the coop too so they get the light inside.
    Yes the food and water are inside so that may need to come out. They come out when we bring treats, but there is nothing around that I see scaring them. I have a dog that goes to the run, but one has already challlened my dog so I'm not sure it's that. I did read that maybe I should block off the nesting boxes? What do you think?
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    The disputed "rule" of thumb for standards is 4 sq feet each for inside space and 10 outside. As for free ranging, it is new to them so it will take time to go outside. They will go back home at night since that is the "safety" are for them.
  6. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    Well, they'll have to deal with the coop as is for this year. Maybe we can make another one next year for them. Is 3 sq. ft./ per going to make them miserable for now?
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    No, many people don't follow the rules. 3 sq feet is fine. In colder winters it is preferable that they have less squire footage to keep warm... provided they have a covered outside space to escape from the mean ones. You'll be fine.

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