Trying to manage my flock but I think they hate my coop!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MysteryChik, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Its a very large open air coop. 15x17. But They won't go in at night.. here's the run down. This may not be the place to post but are my hens refusing to lay bc they hate the coop?

    Strange question, I know. But let me tell you why I am asking. I have ten Hens that are all over six months old. 7 that I know are laying. A couple months ago, they started roosting in the rafters of my goat stall. Just out of the blue one day every single hen stopped going into the coop. (the coop was well managed and cleaned and very secure so that no predators could get in.) I know that my pure bread PBRs (3 of them) would still go back in the coop to lay but only to lay and eat and get water.

    2 of my hens are Wheaten OEGs. Granny stays broody all the time, and if she lays an egg somewhere and you pick it up.. she finds a hiding spot and starts laying somewhere secretive. I can NOT tell you how many piles of unfertilized eggs we've found over the last year. We have another wheaten hen, that if she lays.. i've never saw evidence of it. I have two wheaten/Dominique mixes that also go off to lay. one has went missing for weeks on end before so I know atleast she is broody. Not sure about the other wheaten/dominque if she's laying and hiding too.

    Then we have three wheaten/PBR mixes.. IDK if they are gonna go broody or not. I know our pure PBRs are not broody at all. SOrry for all the rambling.. let me get to why i am asking such a crazy question. Did alot of research on this site as to how to pretty much retrain my hens to go back to the coop at night. I left them in there for 3 weeks-to a month. Didn't let them out at all unless it was to clean the coop and they were in a large dog kennel with hood while we did that. That entire month, we would only get one maybe two eggs per week.. DEF came from my pure PBRs. very large brown eggs.

    I figured they had been in there enough time.. so decided to let them start free ranging again. The very first day I let them out.. GUESS WHAT? Again.. not a SINGLE hen came back to the coop. straight back to the Goat stall rafters again. and this time.. they started laying some eggs in the goats' hay trough. One plymouth still goes in the coop to lay. they've been out of the coop about a week.. yesterday, I had SEVEN eggs in the hay trough. how did i get seven eggs in one day.. and only got that number in an entire month in the coops. today, only two eggs in all and they were in the trough. I'm so confused. I know OEG tend to go broody.. Do they tend to go broody even if bred with non broody breeds such as PRB. Am I going to have to go on an Easter Egg hunt every day to find my eggs? I went on an egg hunt today with my 3 year old and found a stash of 30 eggs. (old) in my tool shed.. Looked like they were from 3 different hens. who knows how long they'd been there. Please help

    Pics updated.




    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017

  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    I've got a few hens that have never voluntarily laid in the nest boxes. Keeping them confined to the run during the morning helps. Then you can follow the one that really needs to lay. The good thing is, hens are creatures of habit and once they find a spot they like, they don't change it frequently. One of my girls has been laying in the same area for the last 9 months. It might also help if you make the nests in the coop more private.
  3. Colonel-Sanders

    Colonel-Sanders In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2017
    Hello! I wouldn't say they hate your coop, but it could quite possibly be that if/since they were never discouraged to roost up in with your goats then there really wouldn't be much of a reason for them to leave if they happen to enjoy it more. I have never had this exact problem, but if your chickens get drowsy at night (as do my own) I might recommend in the evening time, going to wherever they are sleeping and then moving them back into their real coop. As I said I have never had this exact problem, but moving them into their coop (as long as it's large enough to house them all which I would assume it would be) and then closing them in for 1-2 days might be enough to convince them to find their way back every night. Other than this the only other way I can think of where you could basically reteach them what their home is would be to entice them for a few nights with cracked corn or some other treat into the coop. Otherwise, you may just have to accept where they choose to lay and make a few little nesting areas for them in with the goats!

    P.S. Not an expert but, sometimes chickens lay where you don't want them to (ie all over the place) because they don't feel welcome or comfortable laying where the other birds lay, so after all your birds begin to like their coop again, you can help make that chicken or chickens more comfortable by leaving them in the coop or laying area by themselves for a day or so, but you would still let the other chickens in at night, just solitary during the daytime.

    P.P.S. As a treat to start enticing them to enter the coop you may want to try some broken apart pieces of bird suet, my chickens love it!

    Hope this helps![​IMG]
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging 8 Years

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    The Colonel has some good points.

    You are up against chicken logic. You may think you've figured out why they're doing the nutty things they are, but you could be 180 degrees from the true reason. Sometimes you need to face the possibility that you either need to block them off from roosting and laying where you don't want them or just letting them do what they're so inclined and accept it.

    I have a young pullet that insists on roosting on a narrow fence partition in the run instead of going into her coop at night. Each night I snatch her off the fence and install her in the coop. Every. Single. Night. Some mornings I find evidence she's snuck back out of the coop and roosted in the run anyway. But I persevere. And so does she. One of these days, one of us will be declared the winner.

    If you could post pics of your coop and pics of the goat stall where the chickens like to roost and lay, it would be helpful. Maybe one of us here will spot something that might give a clue to your chickens' behavior. Is the coop contiguous with the goat stall, by any chance? Does the coop and the goat stall share space in a larger building or are they separate buildings?

  5. Oh believe me.. I forgot to mention, but my husband climbed up in the rafters quite a few days in a row and brought them down to the coop and put them on the roost. (the first time) for at least a week straight we went up there and he'd climb and get them and me and my girls would carry them to the roost in their coop. Then my husband started back working nights so we haven't been able to do that this time. I was using meal worms to entice them back.. bc they LOVE them.. but they would follow me half way to the coop then turn around and come back.
  6. I don't have a "run". Just a large open air coop and they free range. But I don't understand how for a MONTH i got 1-2 eggs a WEEK. and with them being out, I can get 7 in one day.
  7. I will get pics tomorrow and post. The goat stall is probably about 25 yards from the coop. They are completely separate buildings. I actually have two separate coops side by side, one slightly larger than the second. We mainly use the second when we get new chickens so they can be "introduced" through fencing before putting them together. It the first is a 15x17 coop with a ladder type roost, three separated nesting boxes for complete privacy. Everyone has saw it has talked about how nice of a coop it is.. and how lucky our chickens are.. haha I just wish the chickens realized that!

  8. oh and also.. the problem is.. my PBR do lay in same spots.. but the hens that are "broody" lay.. and when we get the egg from that spot.. they are smart and find another spot the next day.
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    The lack of eggs when confined was likely caused by overcrowding stress.

  10. lilwildrabbit

    lilwildrabbit Songster

    Feb 9, 2017
    Brinson Georgia
    Overcrowding not it seems to me that if it's too big a coop they will lay somewhere where they feel more protected and I never feed inside the coop unless it's a brooding hen but as small a number of birds they feel open to attack as big as the coop is they do like it Cozy too I have torn down one roost in mine and closed it off because the birds I have all gather up on just one

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by