Chickens refuse to go into the coop..what to do???? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

If it were not happening to me, it would be laughable..(you may laugh).....Got my chickens a week ago tomorrow..they are 1 year old Rhode Island Reds and one Buff Orpington. Kept them in the coop four days..BTW, it is a wonderful coop, built after we read everything we could about them. 8 hens and two of us, with me on crutches no less. I want eggs and I want the hens to eat all the ticks and grasshoppers they can find, so I let them out of the coop at noon..That works then they have laid five or six problem.The problem is that they will NOT go back in the coop.We have enticed them with "goodies", and they do come running, right up to the door and then zip around and race back down the hill.Yesterday, it took us an hour to get them all in, finally having to scoop the last one up in the pool skimmer on a ten foot pole. We are not young folks, and this is very tiring and frustrating! I would have paid good money to see this show; two middle-aged folks waving pool skimmers and crutches, clucking like hens, chasing 8 birds while the four huge dogs rooted from behind the chainlink fence and the cats watched from the kitchen must have been a riot to see. Seriously, we are whipped. One of our neighbors dropped by and he said to get a rooster...that the rooster would see to it that the girls were all safely in the coop. We are skeptical...the last thing we want to do is to be chasing some mean rooster AND the hens. Whats the advice from all of you chicken folks?????? HELP!!!!! and God bless.

-- Lesley (, March 27, 2001


Where would they go IF you didn't put them back in the coop yourself? For us, whenever we got new hens that weren't used to the place, it took a couple days for them to get the hang of it. Made sure they knew where the feed and water was (coop only) and that seemed to help the most! Maybe if you put a small light on in the coop and leave the door open, as it gets dark, they'll go in and then you can lock it all up. Maybe you were trying too early and they wanted to be out longer. Hope this helps!

-- Pat (, March 27, 2001.

Lesley, if it's any comfort, I've had my hens two years, and if they can free range into the garden area (currently not planted yet), they won't go inside until they are ready and it is plenty dark out. I do have a light inside, and they go in when it gets dark and sit on the perches. Then I shut them in. The light might do the trick for you. Good luck! Jan

-- Jan in CO (, March 27, 2001.

Lesley, I think I remember that we did something like that when we first had chickens. I think we resolved it this way: when we first got a bunch of birds, we kept them cooped up in their house for several days (kind of like how you move with cats...) and then let them out into a fenced area around the coop after their time was up. (Eventually they could head out and free-range.) They would go into the henhouse at night, but sometimes after dusk. (How inconvenient as we would wait for them!) I remember being concerned about ours, too. Pat has a good idea with the light, and certainly keeping food and water inside (if you have room) should do it. If you have good places for them to perch off the floor, they should love going in there at night. I guess patience and persistence will help, too. The rooster idea sounds like something I personally wouldn't want to do!

As an aside, the first chickens we ever had, we inherited...we were leasing a place and the chickens came with it. We had lived in the country (sort of) before but never had poultry. Well, I awoke the very first morning to all kinds of chicken noises and freaked out, fearing the worst was happening! I ran out to the poultry yard with about two stitches of clothing on, racing and thinking I was going to have to fend off coyotes or worse. Turns out it was just the cackling that goes on when they finish laying! Sheesh. What a lesson! DOH!!

-- sheepish (WA) (, March 27, 2001.

Did you wait until dark before chasing them? Sometimes ours won't go in at just dusk, but wait until dark. Two of them just try to outwait each other. If you do have to get a rooster, and we love to hear ours crow, get a black austrolorp. (sp?) They are sooo gentle. Ours isn't tame, but never has made any effort to attack any of us, even small children. We have had several generations of austrolorp roosters and find them all gentle. God Bless. Cora Vee

-- Cora-Vee Caswell (, March 27, 2001.

DUH...DARK????????? No wonder they will not go into the coop..they think we are daft! We have been herding them into the coop around we would not have to be looking for them on the 8 acres in the dark. If they were not locked up in the taj mahal coop, I guess they would be in the forest getting whacked by coons, foxes and coyotes...or, they could go under the front porch with probably the same result. Thanks for the responses....we will keep them "cooped up" for another few days (we need the rest), and then see what happens at DARK....God bless.

-- Lesley (, March 27, 2001.

Lesley, p=l=e-a-s-e keep us posted on how you finally solve this with your chickens. We found your post so interesting!! God bless.

-- Eve in FL (, March 28, 2001.

My guineas and chickens free range during the day and return to their pens ~ on their own ~ at dusk. It's easy to accomplish this. There is always feed in the feeders, I don't feed any treats, and nothing is fed by hand. Altho I don't have scientific proof, this has also resulted with none of my many roos fighting. (I have more roos than I should!) The guineas and the chickens get along. They even snuggle together when they roost. Any adult birds new to me, or babies feathered up and ready to go outside, are kept penned for 3 weeks. I have always heard that 3 square feet per bird should be allowed. If you move the pen to another area, or move to a different house, the 3 week 'jail' time has to be done again.

I was outside yesterday, and some unknown thing sent the guineas screaming and flying up to the trees. They rarely go up to the trees, and I've never seen the chickens in the trees. I saw nothing! I left and went into town. I returned after dark and everybody was tucked into the pens. I counted beaks and then closed the gates. Too many night time predators to leave them free range 24/7.

I have never had need to have them in their pens before dusk; thus I have never had to chase them down to settle in the pens.

Works for me!

-- ~Rogo (, March 28, 2001.

== DUH...DARK????????? No wonder they will not go into the coop. ==

I live out in the boonies, can't see another house. It's dark as pitch at night. No lights/heat in the pens. My birds tuck themselves in at dusk.

-- ~Rogo (, March 28, 2001.

Thanks for a good laugh (hope you don't mind). I've tried to get mine in early a few times when I didn't want to wait for total darkness, and I'm sure I looked silly, too. Having a rooster won't help. Mine couldn't care less whether all the hens are in or not. I'm sure they'll figure it out soon - and do put up a light. It will definitely help.

-- glynnis in KY (, March 28, 2001.

You have received some great advice already. While I love having our roosters around, I don't know that it would help get them into the coop but you never know. One thing you might try is waiting until dusk and then putting a light in the coop and chasing them to the light. Our girls won't go into a dark coop. Keep at it with herding them in though and they'll figure it out. Chickens can be pretty stubborn though ;-)

-- Trisha-MN (, March 28, 2001.

Our free range as well and do not go in until it's dark. We had some problems this winter with they would get hudled up and wouldn't come across the snow( when it was dark), so we offered scratch feed as a treat, then they came running. We use this same treat if we are needing to leave and don't want them out while we're gone, so far it works everytime( there is always one who has to be a problem !). I would try leaving them in their new home for a week or so longer. We only have our food in the coop, but the waterer is in their run. Ours are handled alot, our daughter loves them so they are used to being caught. Good luck, I hope they learn how to get to their home soon for your sake LOL!!!

-- Kelle in MT. (, March 28, 2001.

Hi Lesley..This is what I do with new chickens..I leave then in the penned area for a week and then allow them out about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour before dark and then lengthen the time gradually until they eventually stay out most of the day UNTIL the garden is planted and even then I make sure I am outside when they are..eventually they learn to go directly to the pasture and do their browsing..they have to be trained like children..scheduling is the key I think.

-- Lynn(MO) (, March 28, 2001.

I imagine if the hens could use the computer, they all would be in here clucking away, thanking all of you for your sound advice. It truly never crossed our minds that they would stay out until it got folks.....We are going to pick up a battery lamp today (no electric in the coop), and will wait until the weekend and let the little darlings out an hour before dusk, turn on the lamp in the coop and pray that they go right in at dark. The water and the food are only inside the coop. I have watched them during the day when they were out and often, they would go up the hill to the coop, pop inside for awhile and then come back out again. Two of them even went back inside and laid eggs, and then came back outside. From all of your input, it is obvious that, indeed, they know what THEY are doing, they were just waiting for US to know what we were doing. Once they start roosting in the coop at night on their own, the dogs and the cats will have to find some other source of amusement besides watching us look like idiots at a chicken roundup. Just wait until we get some goats.......scary, isn't it? LOL God bless.

-- Lesley (, March 28, 2001.

We've got Buffs too but we got them as chicks. Being a rookie myself at this I may be all wrong but I think it helps too to get them young so they'll imprint on you and get used to the routine. So far mine seem to like to follow me around. I can feed them and they'll follow me into the coop but when I leave the coop they follow me----even when they haven't eaten yet. So far we're not ranging them so talk is cheap but I'll sit down in the greenhouse and the chickens, while in their chicken-tractor-run in the greenhouse, will stand in their run and just watch me while I look at them. Another week or two and we're gonna try our first herding experiment with them. (Are you done with your pool skimmer?)

-- john (, April 01, 2001.

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