Young flock- Plz Help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cncstory, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. cncstory

    cncstory New Egg

    Sep 23, 2011
    Ok this is going to be a kind of long post while I work through our situation...

    We received 11 Australorp chicks when they were around 3 weeks old this summer and raised them inside our home (in brooder) but allowed them outside during the day contained in a tractor my husband built until they were about 4 months old. We have since assembled their coop, roost included, boxes, run, etc. and moved them out. We kept them penned up in the coop/run for the first several days to get them accustomed to the coop and run so they would figure out their new home and accomodations. After the aforementioned time we allowed them out to roam our yard and explore. We always leave the run door open and had been leaving the large door my husband and I go through to muck out the coop or change food/water closed but after one particularly warm day we left the large door opened and the chicks happened to use the large door throughout the day to go in and out for food, water & rest and that night they went in through the big door to access the coop...not the run. Every morning they will come out through the run and be waiting at their pen door to be let out but every night they refuse to go in through the run!! If you leave the big door closed the darn buggers will hunker down in front of the door and sleep there! We have tried starting over and keeping them locked in their coop/pen for a few days to have them re-learn the process but that hasn't helped at all! From what I have researched I have read that sometimes starting a flock from scratch can be difficult and having an older bird to show the chicks the "ropes" so to speak is very helpful. Do yall think it would be beneficial for us to introduce an older (2-3 yr old bird) into the flock to help the girls gain a better understanding of how things are supposed to work around here?

    Other issues: 1) The girls still sleep on the ground. They all huddle together on the floor in a corner. They have very nice roosts with ramps to access them but choose to sleep on the floor. Will they grow out of this, will an older bird introduced help fix this, should we go in at night and put them on the roosts like some books or websites say to do?

    2) We live in a fairly rural area but our backyard is fenced in none the less. The back yard that is fenced in where the chickens run around is roughly an acre but they have recently figured out they are skilled enough to fly up on top of the fencing and to hop to the other side. This is not good-predators and neighbor's dogs would love to make a snack of them! Will trimming their wings help, are we screwed and need a taller fence, or are chickens going to do whatever their little hearts desire?

    Any responses and suggestions are greatly appreciated. We are first time chicken owners and certainly enjoy the experience of owning and raising chickens but the hassles/worry we are going through is starting to diminish the enjoyment we are deriving from the experience [​IMG]
  2. laceynoelle

    laceynoelle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2009
    They should figure out the roosts eventually I'd think. Im sure they will when they are older. If they dont, an older bird would show them how its done.
    As for them jumping over, you can clip thier feathers. Cut the primary feathers off of one wing only, and dont cut them too short. This works with most heavier chickens, so with Australorps you should be fine. It looks horrible though, so as long as you dont mind lopsided-looking chickens. [​IMG]
    Im not sure why they refuse to go in through the pen. Before they settle down for the night, try throwing some treats in the pen so they are lured into it, then closing the door so they dont have access to the human door and (hopefully) are forced to enter the coop through the chicken door. Thats the best Ive got for that one. [​IMG]

    Well, good luck!!
  3. aggie9296

    aggie9296 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2011
    Panama City, FL
    They will figure the roosts out eventually. Mine did right before they started laying at 16-17 weeks. I was not going to put them on the roosts every night for a month!

    Clipping wings does help limit flying over fences,. But some are more determined than others and might need more clipping.

    Chickens are creatures of habit. They are used to going thru the big door. Close it and do what lacey said. Start putting some treats in there and they will learn the run door. Usually only takes a few days. Some are slower and takes a week or two.

    Adding an older hen that is not part of the current routine would have to learn the ropes herself before she could teach anything.
  4. bleith

    bleith Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2010
    West Dundee IL
    Agree with the other posters, however, If done right you cant really tell the wing is clipped. I have to clip one of my EE's and you cant telll. and it appears to have worked

    welcome to byc, good luck
  5. cncstory

    cncstory New Egg

    Sep 23, 2011
    Thank you all very much for your suggestions. We had been trying to keep the big door closed and just lure them into the run with treats but I guess we just did not give it enough time to show results. Again, thank you all for your help and encouragement. I am looking forward to learning more from this community of backyard chicken enthusiasts!

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