Training chickens to go in at night...

mandi224

In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 13, 2014
20
2
36
Edinboro, PA
I'm hoping this is the right forum to post this in -- if not, please forgive me!

I just moved my chickens outdoors on Sunday, so I know this will take some time. They're 7.5 weeks old in a temporary coop (this one from Tractor Supply - got the floor model $100 off) while I finish building my bigger coop & run.

My problem is... I'm spending 15 minutes every night trying to round up my girls and get them INTO the coop! Because the "run" attached to the coop is SOOOO small, I can't step INSIDE it to catch them. So it's a big ordeal and I know it's stressing my birds out. My buff orpingtons are easier to catch because they are friendlier but I also have 2 production reds that are much more skittish and they're especially rough to catch!!

I know I read that you should leave your chickens shut INSIDE the coop for a few days before letting them out so that they know where home is -- but the coop is small enough that my food/water doesn't fit inside. So that doesn't really work.

I'm shutting them up for the night at dusk -- should I try waiting until it's darker outside?

Any other tips/tricks?

This is my first time with chickens, so forgive me if these are silly questions!
 
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mrchicks

Songster
6 Years
Jul 29, 2013
1,406
137
176
Wisconsin
First, congrats on the chickens!

They need to be taught to go to bed in the evening, so you are going to have to keep catching and putting them in for now. Some catch on right away, others seem to take a bit longer. Maybe you could use something like a piece of cardboard to herd and block them into the part where the door is to make them easier to catch? I had a little window screen that I used to round mine up when I had a coop that was similar.
 

Bird Fever

In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2015
21
3
26
California
I was thinking of using food too, but then I can't remember if there was a problem with my first flock. If predators aren't a problem you might leave them out until they just drop where ever they are for a few days as an experiment. They'll be a lot more docile in the dark to put in the coop.
 

mandi224

In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 13, 2014
20
2
36
Edinboro, PA
Thanks for all the suggestions!! I really appreciate it.

So far my silly chickens aren't too interested in treats -- though I will have to try some dried meal worms. I've only given them leftover produce scraps and stuff from the kitchen so far, and when I toss that to them, it takes them about 10 minutes of staring at it before one even tries it! (They crack me up.) Perhaps meal worms will be more appealing!

The solar light is an interesting idea too! I can understand not wanting to go into a dark scary coop haha. I will give it a shot.
 

BlessedCountry6

Songster
5 Years
Mar 8, 2014
411
30
108
peace, hope and country
Thanks for all the suggestions!! I really appreciate it. 


So far my silly chickens aren't too interested in treats -- though I will have to try some dried meal worms. I've only given them leftover produce scraps and stuff from the kitchen so far, and when I toss that to them, it takes them about 10 minutes of staring at it before one even tries it! (They crack me up.) Perhaps meal worms will be more appealing! 


The solar light is an interesting idea too! I can understand not wanting to go into a dark scary coop haha. I will give it a shot.

We feed ours in a red bin. They can see bright colors. Every time they see red they will follow us. I had a red cup and they followed me. It's about training. My chickens free range but morning and night we take them out and feed them a little grain and then again at night to get them in. If they are where I don't want them I go out with something red to round them up. It is very helpful and I learned about it on BYC last yr when they were just chicks. Good luck.
 
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Finnie

Crowing
6 Years
Oct 27, 2014
2,674
3,083
386
Indianapolis
So, are your chicks enclosed in the coop and run unit, or are they running around in the yard? My baby coop is like a little box coop part with a little run part attached. There is a ramp that goes up to the door of the box part. They can't get out of the run, so they are about as safe as they can get, seeing as how flimsy the whole structure is. They didn't know they were supposed to go into the box part that first night. (Their brooder had no box, why would they want to go into a box? Heck, they hadn't even explored inside of it during the day.) So I waited until they were going to sleep on the ground, after it was all the way dark, and then I was able to reach in and grab them and put them into the box part of the coop. The next night they figure it out on their own. So yeah, I would say to wait until it's fully dark, and see if that helps.

(If they were running loose in the whole yard, then it would be a different story.)
 

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Aug 26, 2009
139,569
279,797
2,027
Out to pasture
You could have a small light on timer - set to go off before dusk and maybe for 20 min. so the stranglers can find their way. Once they are good at it, You won't need the light.
 

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