Training chickens to go back in the coop

GoodGuinea

Chirping
Aug 26, 2019
40
37
59
Pennsylvania
My neighbor has four hens. She lets them out to range when she's spending time outside. When it's time to go in, she calls, "Chickens! Chickens!" and shakes the bag of mealworms, throwing a few small handfuls into the run. The chickens go right in and munch on mealworms while she closes the gate.

I have three hens and a rooster. I let them out to range when I'm spending time outside. When it's time to go in, I call, "Chickens! Chickens!" and shake the bag of mealworms, throwing a few small handfuls into the run. The chickens either (a) turn their backs and walk away, or (b) come close enough that I think they'll go in, and then turn their backs and walk away. Then I'm stuck outside because I can't leave them alone (lots of predators here). If I try to round them up, which works with my guinea fowl, they run away from me and scatter into the bushes.

How do I train these crazy birds to go in when it's time?
 
Last edited:

Peaches Lee

Crowing
Sep 19, 2010
2,016
647
301
Pennsylvania
When are they fed? May I suggest feeding them in the evening? Perhaps an hour before you want them to go in (while it's still light enough for them to see).

I did this with my flock a couple of times because, like you, my chickens were very interested in partying until the sun went down and then some. I had one Silkie rooster that would stay out until dusk catching nightcrawlers!

Good luck to you.
 

Ruthster55

Crowing
Nov 23, 2013
836
1,408
261
Northern South America
You gotta do it right at nightfall, when the chickens’ biggest urge is to go up on the roost.

That exact time is changing rapidly right now except in the tropics. It’s rather early in North America and rather late in Chile or Australia.

This is the same time to get the remedial little peeps that hatched this summer out of the nestboxes and onto the roost. (so they don’t mess up tomorrow’s eggs)!

You can feel for their warm feathery fluff in the nestbox. Then put them on a roost pole or branch.

It’s best to go out to tend the chickens right as it gets dark.

The modern workplace ca. 2019 made that difficult, but for some, it’s now a possibility when working at home.
 
Last edited:

Ruthster55

Crowing
Nov 23, 2013
836
1,408
261
Northern South America
I just use a bit of their normal feed to bring them in and only when there has been a disruption. They go in to the coop under normal circumstances. Normally, a timer would work....

However, interruptions, changes in sunset time, or accidentally closed coop doors can be a problem.

Let’s say that the normally-open coop door is now closed because a young pig has, erm, paid for a few nights at the chicken motel.

That’s when I need to be there right at nightfall to open the door and make sure all the chickens, including the little peeps, go in the coop.

If you just need an established flock to go in the coop and go up on the roosts, it’s a matter of being there at a bit after sunset along with a little extra normal food and making sure they have their normal water always on hand. It’s a bit trickier when there are little peeps and broody mamas or chicks being introduced out of the brooder.

I would save treats like mealworms for teaching tricks and special things rather than for daily activities like roosting in the coop.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,607
5,686
366
USA
How do I train these crazy birds to go in when it's time?
I'm not sure about the "in" part, but I would start by just training them to come when you call.

Call and give a treat, but maybe just do it inside the run for a few days--and don't let them out until they seem to have it figured out.

If they don't really like mealworms, switch to something else.

I like to train chickens with wet chicken feed. I put a bit of their normal chicken feed in a bowl, and add water to get it wet. They seem to love it. (And they have to stay in one place to eat it, rather than picking it up and chasing each other around the yard--I've had that problem with some other kinds of treats.)
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,116
22,427
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
For me, any rattling treat works - mealworms, grubs, scratch, BOSS - in a plastic container. And yes I start working on them while they're inside their run. Every time I call "Chook chook chook" I toss some treats. Even once a day is enough. Just have to get a couple birds interested in the snacks and soon they'll all come running.

Once you turn them into treat junkies they should come pretty reliably when called.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom