1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Why won't my chickens roost in their coop? It's freezing outside....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LadyMaryChicken, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. LadyMaryChicken

    LadyMaryChicken In the Brooder

    Aug 2, 2013
    All but two of my chickens roost on the outside roosts instead of inside the hen house. It's now reaching below 0 at night. Are they smart enough to go inside if it's too cold? I'm worried about frost bite....

    I've tried moving them inside. Sometimes they'll stay put, and other times, they just choose to go back outside. The hen house roost is actually higher than the roost outside, so I'm not sure why they prefer the outdoor roosts. My coop is based on the Garden coop design.

    Should I try to keep moving them inside or just trust that they know what's good for them?

    Thanks in advance for the advice!

  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Is the run sheltered from the weather?

    If they are sheltered from snow and wind, and the perch they are using is 4 inches flat on the perching surface, I would leave them.

    If the above isn't true, I would try different things, maybe lowering the perch in the run or removing it entirely.
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Also, if they are roosting outside and you have any predators, they won't last out there long.
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    Perhaps the perch in the coop is too high? Sometimes heavy-bodied birds prefer lower perches. Also, what is the coop perch made of? If it's round or skinny or both, chickens won't use it.

    I would personally lock those birds in at night (because of predators).
  5. LadyMaryChicken

    LadyMaryChicken In the Brooder

    Aug 2, 2013
    The coop run is fully enclosed with a roof and hardware cloth, so it's safe against predators. Their outdoor perches are 4" natural branches--same as the indoor perch.

    For the last two nights, I've been "tucking them in" -- picking them up and putting them on the indoor perch. They stay there once they're up, so I'm guessing that it's just habit that's driving them to go outside?

    I think will try removing the outdoor perch if they don't eventually start tucking themselves in...

    Thanks all!
  6. JulieNKC

    JulieNKC Crowing

    Sep 25, 2010
    Kansas City
    I let mine stay out. At least the standards and adults, banties or juveniles I would be a little more concerned with. Mine have slept in their enclosed run for years, havent had one freeze yet. I do cover the sides with tarps to help keep the wind off of them, that might be easier than moving them each night. I admit I did try moving mine for a month or so at first, but i either have dumb or stubborn birds and they never got the hint.
  7. LadyMaryChicken

    LadyMaryChicken In the Brooder

    Aug 2, 2013
    Julie-- just wondering, what kind of winter temps are you experiencing in your area?

  8. Bocrates

    Bocrates In the Brooder

    Nov 5, 2013
    9,000ft, CO
    My Coop
    Last summer I got in the habit of manual putting my birds in at night because of coop construction that that wouldn't allow for their normal routine (our coop door is 36" off the ground with a 7' ladder and both were removed during a remodel). It only lasted a week but once everything was back to normal it took them another several days to start going back in themselves. Has anything changed in their environment? Are the outside roosts new?

    Interestingly, my large laying hens go right for the top 2" round dowel nightly. Their heads are only about 4" from the roof when roosting. Even though there are two lower options available, so I guess it depends on the hen.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by