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What should I do now?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 70monte, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. 70monte

    70monte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 5, 2009
    Aurora, MO
    I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my chickens staying out when its dark out. Last night I left the coop lights off as well as the back porch light on the house. When I went out to check on the chickens, one of the hens was still out in the run and it was pitch dark out. She was just standing there. The other four hens and the rooster were in the coop but they all were sitting or standing on the floor. It was pitch dark in there as well. No one was on the roosts. Not getting on the roosts is another issue that has just started. The rooster is roosting on the perch for the nest boxes most of the time and maybe one or two hens will get on the roosts occasionally.

    This morning I went to open the pop door before I went to work and looked in the coop beforehand and all of the chickens were huddled under the nest boxes except for one that was perched on the edge of the water bowl. It was still pitch dark outside.

    I don't know what to do to get them to all go inside the coop at dark and what to do to get them roosting back up on the roosts. My roosts are 2x4's with the 4" side down.

    Does anyone have any idea why the chickens are staying out in the dark and why they won't roost? I have checked the coop out good and have not found any type of animal inside it that would bother them. Thanks.

    Wayne
     
  2. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    I'm not sure about the dark - how old are the chickens?

    If they are very young they may not have developed the roosting instinct yet - that comes a little later (6 to 8 months sometimes) - but they should not want anything to do with standing out in the dark.

    Maybe start calling them into the coop at dusk with treats? Do that for a week & I bet they will get the picture.

    As for roosting - I wouldn't worry about it at all - they will do it when they want & standing of the floor of the coop wont hurt them any.
     
  3. BWKatz

    BWKatz Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    Columbia,SC
    Chickens don't like to go into a dark room. Hang some battery xmas lights and they will go right in. Once in awhile when I get out late to bring my chicks to coop it's already real dark. My Polish has trouble seeing peripheral and will just stand there. Sometimes I shine the flashlight for her to see the way and sometimes I just pick her up. At any rate u do have to teach them to roost. Just put them up where u want them for several nights in a row til they get the idea.
     
  4. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2010
    Have you checked the coop and birds VERY well for mites? Most mites live in the coop, in the cracks, crevices and bedding...they nest and breed in the coop...and swarm out at night to feed on the birds. If a coop has a mite infestation, it can make the birds not want to go into it.... and I suppose, if they did end up going in it anyway... they could associate their roosts where the uncomfortable mites get on them at night and they're trying to 'hide' from the mites by finding somewhere else in there to sleep...

    It's best to check for these types of mites at night, though there may be some that stay on the chicken most of the day. They're TINY. Tiny, tiny, tiny... and can be straw colored to reddish/brown colored. I had inspected my birds carefully SEVERAL times and still missed them. [​IMG] FINALLY spotted some on a bird (daytime) after literally about 10 minutes of parting feathers and trying to see them before they'd quickly crawl to feather cover.

    If you check at night, take a flashlight well after dark (give them some time to come out!), and check the coop walls (easier said then done if they're dirty), check the roosts, and especially check your birds. Part the feathers near the vent to all the way up under (and above the tail) and use the light to really check closely.

    That's where I'd start, anyway. My coop gets pretty dark, too...but my birds are putting themselves to bed by about 5:10 when it's still dusk and they can see. I even have a yard light that makes the outside brighter than their coop...they still go to bed before it's pitch black in the coop. (I'm not very far from you, so one would assume your birds SHOULD be putting themselves to bed about the same time that mine do.)
     
  5. 70monte

    70monte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 5, 2009
    Aurora, MO
    My chickens are two years old so they know how to roost and they didn't have this problem last year or this year until recently.

    I was leaving the coop light on but then they wouldn't roost and were just hanging around on the floor and they would go back outside.

    I will check for mites. I know they had them in the past but I treated them and the coop with Permectrin dust. I will treat everything again and see what happens. Thanks for the ideas.

    Wayne
     
  6. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2010
    I have read that if you add artificial light that's on a timer, it should be in the mornings, allowing sunset to happen naturally for them. The reason being is if a light suddenly goes off after dark, it's instantly dark... they can't see to roost and it stresses them. I'd be sure to allow them to have sunset (inside and out) as naturally as possible.

    Aside from mites, I'd also double check to make sure there aren't any drafts across their roosts. With it being so cold recently, they might be trying to find a more draft free location if it's been drafty on their roosts.

    You just never know 'chicken psychology', it can be tough to figure out that the problem is if it doesn't end up being one of the more obvious ones.
    Good luck!
     
  7. 70monte

    70monte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 5, 2009
    Aurora, MO
    I dusted all of the chickens tonight as well as the nest boxes and around the coop so I'll see what happens.

    As far as drafts go, that is a possibility because the walls of the coop do not meet the roof and it has been windy here lately. The roosts are below this area though when the chickens are sitting down but not when they are standing up. I'm going to try and cover the part of this area that is next to the roosts to see if that might be the problem. Thanks again.

    Wayne
     

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