Topic of the week - Coop training the flock

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,141
24,813
1,252
Tipperary, Ireland
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Pic by @swamperkk

We spend a lot of money and effort on nice, cozy, comfortable and above all safe coops for our flocks, but inevitably we'll have the odd one or few that prefers roosting outside in a tree instead of returning to the coop at night. Or the sneaky hens that lays her eggs under a bush somewhere, instead of in the nest boxes provided! This week I would like to hear you all's tips and tricks for training the flock to make use of the facilities provided. Specifically:

- How you do train your flock to return to the coop at night?
- How do you get your hens to use the nest boxes?


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feedman77

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
2,881
2,206
281
When I get new birds. I usually confine them to the coop and run that I want them to use for about 10 days.

After that I let them out during the late afternoon for some ranging. I watch to make sure all of them go back in where they are supposed to be at dark. I do this for about a week if all goes well. Then they get longer free time.

Generally if they are laying the only nest boxes they will have access to during they confinement time frame will be those in the coop.

With a few exceptions most return lay and roost where I want them too.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,401
7,297
536
western South Dakota
As for returning to the coop to sleep, this has never been a problem for me. I have never locked them in the coop for days. However, I have locked them in the coop/run for a couple of days.

As for laying in the right place, a golf ball, or a small round rock will most of the time get them to lay where I want them too, but chickens can be notional. If all of a sudden, I get a big reduction in egg production, it has always been because they have decided to have a secret nest, and several hens will use it. Sometimes it can be hidden in nearly plain sight, and yet not seen.

When I get a couple eggless or nearly eggless days, I take a cup of coffee down and sit quietly... till I hear the egg song. Sometimes I will just collect from that spot, or sometimes I destroy whatever they like about it, as in the cover. It is not a big deal.

Mrs K
 

HannahDuckLover

Songster
Jul 10, 2015
550
361
202
I think privacy is one of the main keys to getting them to lay in their nest boxes. They need to be dark and hidden.

Also, since I let my ducks out early in the morning, they haven't always laid their eggs by then, so I scatter boxes around their yard as well. It seems to work better to have boxes scattered here and there, rather than a neat row of them.

And they pay more attention to new nesting locations, so sometimes I even move the boxes. Recently I moved one under a cluster of thorny bushes, and put a cinder block in front of it to make it even more private. Almost immediately, about five ducks decided they wanted to lay in it. A few weeks later, no one cared anymore. So I moved it again. And they laid in it again.
 

Foster's Freehold

Songster
6 Years
Jun 7, 2013
346
449
182
South Central KY
I don't have to train mine to go in the coop. And while I don't like where they lay, I haven't done anything about moving it yet. What I am having trouble with is teaching my BLRW to roost on the poles lol.

They were raised in brooder boxes with roosts, so the 5 juvies all sleep in a pile in the floor. Ugh. Now I have brought in 3 mature GCMs and they have taken the top roost, which is ok. I'm going to have to make a concentrated effort to teach them to roost, else if I go out in the dark, I'm liable to step on a wad of birds.
 

HannahDuckLover

Songster
Jul 10, 2015
550
361
202
I bribed my girls with treats when I was first training them to return to the coop.

I used a can with seeds in it. They learned/now know, what the sound of the can shaking means.
It didn't work for me, with my ducks. They quickly learned it was a bribe and would just stare at me like, "Really? I'm not falling for that." So I had to get a stick out and herd them inside.
 
As for returning to the coop to sleep, this has never been a problem for me. I have never locked them in the coop for days. However, I have locked them in the coop/run for a couple of days.

As for laying in the right place, a golf ball, or a small round rock will most of the time get them to lay where I want them too, but chickens can be notional. If all of a sudden, I get a big reduction in egg production, it has always been because they have decided to have a secret nest, and several hens will use it. Sometimes it can be hidden in nearly plain sight, and yet not seen.

When I get a couple eggless or nearly eggless days, I take a cup of coffee down and sit quietly... till I hear the egg song. Sometimes I will just collect from that spot, or sometimes I destroy whatever they like about it, as in the cover. It is not a big deal.

Mrs K
I have done that before too, but I had Earl Gray tea instead of coffee.
But i did find their stash!
 
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