Chicken Lovers Wanted
July 29, 2013 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Nope, not looking for recipes just those that have or had chickens before. I have 11 three month old chickens. They have a large coop with more then enough space. I've had chickens for about three years and this is a new group as my others got decimated by a neighbors dog. The usual routine is that they spend the night locked safely in the coop, are let outside during the day and automatically return to the coop at dusk. They did this until a couple of weeks ago. Now instead of going back inside they roost on top of fence outside the coup and high up in a tree and it's incredibly difficult to get them inside. Any advice on how to get them to stop this?

I wouldn't be so concerned if my area wasn't predator heavy. I'm also concerned on where they're going to lay their eggs when they start. There are laying boxes in the coop. I do have a stock dog that spends time with them during the day and the fence they and tree they roost is one side of her night pen. I'm wondering if they smart enough to decide that she is providing a safe place for the night. Even when I manage to get them off the fence and start herding they just don't want to go. It's impossible to get the ones out of the tree they're a good 10 to 15 feet up.

The coop is clean with fresh bedding and I can't see anything that's different then before that would make it undesirable.

Any tips or advice would be great.

They're Rhode Island Reds.
posted by Jalliah to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My chicken does this. She changed her mind about roosting in the coop overnight, once she was an adult, and instead hangs out on a railing next to the back door. This is a bad idea, as there are possums and racoons in the neighborhood. She always goes into the coop to lay eggs, and when she is feeling broody.

I don't believe that I tried to explain to her about the risk. Instead, at bedtime, I grab her and stick her in her house. She objects, but I am the rooster and therefore the boss.

Your chickens might be safe enough in the tree, except for the fact that some predators can climb up there. I am afraid I have no suggestions on how to train them, but do want to note that it seems like familiar behavior.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I suspect its the heat. As you probably know heat is one of the biggest problems for chickens. If your coop is hot and stuffy at night they may be seeking cooler roosts. Can you add ventilation and perhaps a small fan. I have a fan for mine in the summer that I run all night.

Good luck!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It may be easier to get them in the coop if you tempt them with some treats. We use black sunflower seed (they sell them for bird feed) or grapes. After a few weeks of a few treats they came running to the coop any time we went near it. Now once I go in the coop, they come too without any fuss. I still give them a handful of seeds every so often so they keep the association.
posted by GuyZero at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

When my current crop got to the stage where they could use their wings, I came home one day and found two of them on the roof. I clipped their wings (primary feathers), problem solved. The feathers come back after their first molt, at which point they tend to be too heavy to get that far off the ground.

Alternatively, I would do what GuyZero suggests. Lure them into the coop before bedtime and lock them in. They'll get back into the habit after a few days or a week
posted by mudpuppie at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2013

Best answer: Don't feed them in the afternoon, and then feed them in the coop just before bed time. They'll happily go in to eat. We used to feed our chooks a little bit in the morning, and then they were let out to scratch around all day and then feed them again about half an hour or so before sunset to get them into the coop and give them time to eat before roosting.
posted by wwax at 10:47 AM on July 29, 2013

I put a roof over my chicken run to keep them in. And actually, to keep raccoons out, since I had a raccoon get in and kill one of my birds. Still, it also works for keeping the chickens from wandering all over the backyard, and even if they decided to not sleep in their coop at night, they'd still be protected by the fence and roof of the run.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:17 AM on July 29, 2013

Response by poster: suspect its the heat. As you probably know heat is one of the biggest problems for chickens. If your coop is hot and stuffy at night they may be seeking cooler roosts. Can you add ventilation and perhaps a small fan. I have a fan for mine in the summer that I run all night.

Ah I didn't think about the heat. That makes sense. I'll see what I can do.

Will also try a before sunset feeding.
posted by Jalliah at 11:17 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband trained our chickens to follow him into the coop and now they all go racing after him like he's the freaking Pied Piper. It's hilarious, especially with the two little dogs bringing up the rear. He did it by always whistling a bit from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake while walking to the coop with a scoop of black oil sunflower seeds. I'm terrible at whistling but they'll even come running when I do it now.
posted by HotToddy at 11:19 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

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