Getting Chickens to Roost in the Right Place

Chickens have a strong homing instinct which drives them to return to the same place to roost at dusk. Those who for whatever reason have decided otherwise, can easily be picked up when it’s dark and placed in the coop.  After a few days to a week at most, they usually give up the tree limb, fence, or corner they fancied and join the others in the coop without your interference.

Make sure it’s dark though! Because as soon as you turn your back they’ll run back to where you took them from. It’s very common for youngsters to choose a corner on the ground away from the coop.  Just pick them up and place them where you want them to be and they’ll catch on after awhile. However, don’t be concerned if your young birds pile up together in the coop, just be glad they’re in there! As they mature they’ll find their way to the roost, usually at around five months old.

This four month old Leghorn chose this spot to roost for the night. After a few evenings of fetching her off the fence and putting her in the coop she gave up and now joins the others on her own.

Leghorn Dottie 9316

Do all Chickens Roost?

No, don’t ask me why… some, such as Silkies for example, are known to hunker down for the night in the coop, off the roost.
I have four year old hens that refuse to roost, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are safely confined at night I just let them choose their comfort zone.

Broody Silkies 10-23-14

Night Behavior

A chicken’s behavior is dramatically different at night. During the day they are full of life, feisty, and confident, but when the night comes they turn into total milk duds, almost is if they were in a hypnotic state. Take advantage of this time, this is your hassle free ticket to handle, inspect, and doctor chickens. Especially the ones that are difficult or impossible to catch during the day.

Chickens are so docile at night you can usually sneak a new bird in the coop after dark, it will most likely go unnoticed until morning. Some chicken keepers choose to introduce birds this way. But I must warn you, a chicken’s night stupor disappears the moment they march out of the coop at the crack of dawn. Be prepared to witness a whole new ball game of unkind introductions to say the least! Learn more about Introducing Chickens to an Existing Flock.

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Introducing Hatch-a-Long Chicks to the Flock

Mamma hen was separated from the flock five weeks ago to hatch and raise her baby chicks in a quiet and safe environment.  The chicks are now two weeks old and it’s time to move Mamma and her babies back to the coop. To keep harmony among the flock, I’ve closed off a corner with hardware cloth to allow visibility between existing flock, Mamma and babies. The frame is merely PVC pipe cut in 3 foot sections with wire attached using zip ties.

Here’s the set-up I’m using from Nursery to Coop…

Moving the hen with her chicks is best done at night when all the birds are sleeping. Last night wearing my handy head lamp, I headed out to the nursery coop. Throwing a blanket over the nest, I took Mom and her chicks, nest box and all, and placed it in the designated transition pen inside the coop. Come morning it will be introduction time! Safe, peaceful, and everybody is happy.

After a week or so, I’ll allow Mamma to take her babies out of the enclosure.  She will protect her babies from the existing flock, and at about five weeks, she will begin putting distance between her and them.

Silkie and Chicks 51016

Note:
Many chicken keepers allow their hens to hatch their eggs in a secluded area within the chicken coop. Others move hen and eggs back to coop three or four days before the hatch, both ways are certainly okay. I just like to give my hens a quiet place to do their mothering, it’s merely a personal preference.

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About Marek’s Disease

Marek’s disease is an insidious disease that catches many keepers by surprise. Its effect on your flock can be devastating.
We’ve discussed Marek’s in the past, however there is much mis-information out there, so this article will clarify matters for you and your birds…

Continue Reading

All-You-Need-To-Know-About-Marek’s-Disease-Blog-Coverby The Happy Chicken Coop

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Flock I.D. Practices… and Ten New Chicks!

Peaches & Rose, the oldest members in an existing flock of 18. Each bird wears a brightly colored I.D. leg band so I can keep track of age, breed, color, sex, and where they originated from. Otherwise, alike breeds of same color can often look the same.

Each hen’s broodiness is recorded as well, because unfortunately not all hens are good Moms. It’s important to know which hens will not only be be loyal to their clutch of fertile eggs, but which ones can also be trusted to care for the chicks when they hatch.

As an example, these two hens are both broody on a regular basis, only the one on the right will stay on her eggs until they hatch. The bird on the left perhaps has good intentions, but gets bored with the idea of being a Mom and sometimes abandons the nest after a week or so.


Silkie Hens 111015

Knowing who’s who in an immediate situation means a quick and convenient solution. So I better get busy…  today there are 10 more birds to add to the chart!

New Babies…

Mille Fleurs 111415
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