Topic of the week - Coop training the flock

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
5,234
10,637
691
Central PA
But does anyone know how to get chickens out of tall trees? Catching them before they roost isn't an option. To many hiding places
Many of mine roost in the barn rafters, especially the young cockerels who are Not Allowed in the Coop. I have an old hoe. When I want to catch one (or all of them.) I wait until it's fairly dark out, then reach up with the hoe and slide it under their bellies. They step onto the hoe, and I pull back and then lower it until I they're within easy grabbing distance. It takes a little practice, but it's surprisingly effective.
 

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
5,234
10,637
691
Central PA
My coop training is simple. I live in Pennsylvania. Winter isn't too awful--but there's no point free-ranging them from November-March/April. The hens usually go broody in May/June, so that's when I get my chicks.

Obviously, most of the chicks aren't laying by the time winter starts, so I just lock everyone in the coop for the winter, and when spring comes around...voila! Coop-trained, nest box-trained hens.

The old, sneaky broodies are the ones I have to watch out for. As soon as there's hay in the barn top, that's where they go.
 

BoyTheRooster

Songster
Jan 11, 2018
118
198
107
Christchurch, New Zealand
Many of mine roost in the barn rafters, especially the young cockerels who are Not Allowed in the Coop. I have an old hoe. When I want to catch one (or all of them.) I wait until it's fairly dark out, then reach up with the hoe and slide it under their bellies. They step onto the hoe, and I pull back and then lower it until I they're within easy grabbing distance. It takes a little practice, but it's surprisingly effective.
That might work, we'd have to wait until winter though, the leaves block the way
 

ChickenGirl555

Songster
Oct 22, 2017
1,352
1,297
242
Wisconsin
My Coop
My Coop
I confined my 6 pullets in the coop and run for about a week, and they were pretty young so they didn't use the roosts right away, they just slept in a pile on the floor, but once they got a little older they used the roosts and we started doing supervised free ranging. They never left the yard, always sticking close to the house (even though we have 3 acres of land, 2 of which are just empty space with grass). I think once they learn where the food, water, and safe places are, they feel at home and don't travel far.

(Although recently they have been getting sassy and adventurous, and I freaked out when I couldn't find my two barred rocks since there are a lot of hawks by me, but I ended up finding them next to my neighbors house! So this just shows I trained them to stay by buildings! :D)
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,614
26,795
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
- How you do train your flock to return to the coop at night?

I had some slow learners in last springs hatch. There were 2 pullets who insisted on sleeping in the trusses of the sun room (part of the run). Every evening, at dusk I'd use the hose or broom (depending on the temperature) to persuade them to relocate to the coop. I ended up building a separate set of perches for the pullets, and that helped a bit.

- How do you get your hens to use the nest boxes?

Usually not an issue. In a multi age flock, the new kids usually model their behavior after the old biddies. It's not unusual for those first eggs to take the pullet by surprise and "fall out" just about anywhere.

If I have a hen who starts laying in the yard, she is likely to corrupt some of her buddies. In that case, I confine them to the coop/run for a few days. IMO, this is yet one more reason why it's necessary to have a run, even if you primarily free range.

However, I had one gal in my first flock who was stubborn. Refused to use a nest box. She would lay her eggs in the corner, behind the roosts. So, I'd block her corner. She'd move to an other corner. I tried noxious scents: put garlic scapes in the corners. Finally, I had all the corners blocked off and stinky. She'd lay beside the blocked off corners! One day, I caught her getting ready to lay an egg. I scooped her up, set her in a nest box, and body blocked her so she couldn't get out. She went into a total hissy fit, but finally settled and laid her egg. End of battle. LG scores 1, stubborn pullet scores 0!
 
I confined my 6 pullets in the coop and run for about a week, and they were pretty young so they didn't use the roosts right away, they just slept in a pile on the floor, but once they got a little older they used the roosts and we started doing supervised free ranging. They never left the yard, always sticking close to the house (even though we have 3 acres of land, 2 of which are just empty space with grass). I think once they learn where the food, water, and safe places are, they feel at home and don't travel far.

(Although recently they have been getting sassy and adventurous, and I freaked out when I couldn't find my two barred rocks since there are a lot of hawks by me, but I ended up finding them next to my neighbors house! So this just shows I trained them to stay by buildings! :D)
If I was missing my 2 barred rocks, Ide freak out too.
I love my rocks, great birds!!
 
I confined my 6 pullets in the coop and run for about a week, and they were pretty young so they didn't use the roosts right away, they just slept in a pile on the floor, but once they got a little older they used the roosts and we started doing supervised free ranging. They never left the yard, always sticking close to the house (even though we have 3 acres of land, 2 of which are just empty space with grass). I think once they learn where the food, water, and safe places are, they feel at home and don't travel far.

(Although recently they have been getting sassy and adventurous, and I freaked out when I couldn't find my two barred rocks since there are a lot of hawks by me, but I ended up finding them next to my neighbors house! So this just shows I trained them to stay by buildings! :D)
Warning, Polish hens are ok, but Polish roosters are hard to manage!
 
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