Transitioning to coop - can a chicken have mental problems?

evekelly

In the Brooder
Feb 6, 2015
42
6
42
I have two Americanas and two wyandottes which we have raised from chicks in a large kiddie pool since March 23. Poor Dottie has scoliosis or something we've never determined for certain and I don't think she's going to make it. But now I've got an issue with Sophia Loren who doesn't act like a chicken. While the others are foraging, she will stand in the middle of the yard and look up at the sky. She does this a lot. She also likes to lay on the ground like a cat or dog with her legs sprawled out and she won't move if you approach her and pick her up. So at their 8 week mark, we just moved them from the basement to the coop - couldn't do it sooner cause coop wasn't finished. The girls have been free ranging outside Big chunks of the day for about a week. Prior to that they would go out for shorter periods of time. I had kept the heat lamp on at night until about a week ago because I keep my house cold at night and the basement gets colder. And they seemed to freak a little when I would turn the basement lights off at night. Here's the problem, when the sun starts to go down, she FREAKS out. She begins the distress call and doesn't stop. She gets agitated and tries to fly out of the coop (the coop is in our shed with a somewhat high ceiling and the top is open. If I'm not holding her she will start pecking at me forcefully or she'll try to fly up on my head. She gets the other wyandotte going too. If I hold her and pet her, she stops. I know this must sound pretty comicall, but I'm afraid she will hurt herself. There is also a window and they've tried to fly out but hit the glass. I handled them somewhat but certainly did not coddle them or spend lots of time with them - way too busy.
Tonight I had to stay with her for at least 20 or 30 minutes until she calmed down. I got one of my fuzzy robes and laid her on it. My gut feeling is that she is afraid of the dark. What do I do? I don't want them to get hurt. Also my husband installed two approximately 3 inch dowel rids for a roost and they seem to have a hard time getting on it. Poor Dottie can't at all, she just goes to the nesting box. Should we lower the roost? The lowest roost is about 3 feet high or so.
this is our 2nd set of chickens. I had 3 last year which we lost in a fire but they had always done great going to the coop and roosting. Kinda befuddled and worried
 

thecrumbler

Chirping
Mar 18, 2015
102
11
73
Illinois
Maybe she is indeed nervous because she doesn't feel safe. Try a thick branch or a rounded plank (just a little smaller than their feet) - chickens rest their breast bones where they perch, and often even if they'll sit on a dowel it can be uncomfortable for them.
I have perches at a few different heights so each can choose at what height and who they want to roost with. They'll naurally perch in trees, so maybe the high roof makes them feel exposed?
 

evekelly

In the Brooder
Feb 6, 2015
42
6
42
thank you, thecrumbler. That is helpful.
She did better last night because my husband was the one to get them settled in.
also, he is closing up the top part of the coop so the roof won't be so high.
 

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