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Old 06-26-2012, 07:15 AM
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Default How do you bring your chickens back into the coop at night?



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Hey guys and gals!

We just bought 9 acres here in the Ozarks, and we're transitioning from city slicker to bonafide country permaculturists, so I apologize if the bombardment of noob questions I'm about to make over the next couple of months in this sub-forum get annoying.

And yes, I've googled to exhaustion all the questions I'm asking you guys. I'm asking them because I want YOUR opinions, not googles!

All that being said, we just let our little two month old chickens run free in the yard for the first time today, and we're a little worried that we're not gonna get them back at dusk, like we had planned.

They're all just being happy chickens and so far haven't traveled more than 20 feet from the coop they've spent the first couple months of their life in.

So, how did you guys train your chickens to come back home for the night?

Thanks for your input!
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:17 AM
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Well ours just started doing it, there were 2 or 3 night we had to round them up put them back in and lock the doors. But after that they just figured it out and started doing it on there own.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:25 AM
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Agree with above post. You may have to round them up for the first few nights, but they'll put themselves to sleep soon. They know where home is, and they wil go there... are they roosting now? My 2-month olds haven't been allowed to free range...they aren't roosting yet, and I'll wait until they do before letting them roam...

My 2year-olds are up on the roost and comfy before I get out there some nights...
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:28 AM
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In my "finished" coop (an enclosed 8x8 pen with a little 4x4 coop) they go in automatically around 7 or 8. The ducks do not (two muscovies). You may even see them out in the pen at midnight, but since the pen is enclosed (on the top, too) it's fine.

My other temporary coop where I have all the new chickens... It's a fenced in area with a pretty poor example of a chicken coop that I made last year. They need to be hustled in each night. Generally I put a small scoop of food in their dish and about half of them go right in. Then I have to play ring around the chicken coop to get the others in, but usually once or twice works. Once I get my bigger coop and pen built I won't have to play ring around the chicken coop anymore :-)

I learned last year with my first batch of chickens (that are now in the enclosed pen) that they prefered to roost in this little crab apple tree that was next to the coop and be raccoon bait than go into the makeshift coop. I had to go out at 9pm when I got out of work each night and pick them off the tree and put them in (thankfully the tree was only a few feet taller than I was).

Now on my late nights I take a late "lunch" break around 6 or 7 and come home and make sure the little ones get locked in.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:35 AM
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feed them before bed
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:35 AM
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dealfinder500, Yes, once the girls find they can roost in a tree, it can become difficult to get them to go in the coop. I don't want mine to find this out, so they are in an enclosed run and are often in the coop and up on the roost before I even go out to close up for the night.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:51 AM
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Never had a problem. In fact I had 2 four week old cockerals left over from a poultry sale. Before the sale, a few were escaping from their pen they were in for a week so when I brought them back I threw the 2 remaining roos in with the 8 week olds. They didnt like it there so they escaped and found their way back into the cage they were escaping from before the sale. Never did figure out where they escaped the cage from. It is an old cage with many weak spots but whatever.

You shouldnt have too much trouble if they had a week to get used to their pen. Occasionally when I had young birds they would perch next to / on top of their cage, not quite figuring it out. When I moved a pen, a few would perch next to where the pen used to be but they were never hard to find.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:01 AM
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If you have an elevated "roost" for them that they have been using they should just go back in.

Also, the first few times I let my chickens out I didn't let them out first thing in the morning. I didn't let them out until later in the afternoon, that way they didn't go far. They knew to come right back. Only occassionally would I even let them out first thing in the morning besides to their fenced "run" because I wanted them to lay their eggs in the egg box!

One thing about chickens is they are easy to learn and you will learn more by trial and error.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:09 AM
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keep them cooped up for a couple of weeks and loudly rattle their food and loudly call them the same way everytime you feed them in the pen. its pavlovian, they will come running whenever they hear it!
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:12 AM
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keep them cooped up for a couple of weeks and loudly rattle their food and loudly call them the same way everytime you feed them in the pen. its pavlovian, they will come running whenever they hear it!

Had a bit of a chuckle at this, imagining chickens salivating and panting like dogs.*




*not that they can't pant, but I had a doggie /chicken face in my mind at the moment...
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:19 AM
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Yeah - budog has it right - at least that is what I do, too - I gave them Treats Mealworms/Grit/Calcium bits/Scratch every day, and before I fed, I would always rattle the plastic bottle....now, when I see them going down the driveway, I just rattle a bottle I keep in the Kitchen, near the window - usually don't even have to go outside! Then at night, I talk to them, and head for the Run, rattling - they come a Runnin'!

My girls are Nineteen weeks old Today - My First Chickens. I got my First Eggs (Two) from one or two of my Eight Buff Orpingtons Yesterday! Feel the ground shakin? That is me doing My Happy Dance!
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:52 AM
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If they have been in the coop for a while they will likely just go back in themselves. I have a had few stubborn birds that wanted to roost in other places after finding them in their daily exploration. Just pay attention to where they are just before sun down. If some of them pick a different place to roost go out after they roost and it is a bit dark and catch them.

With young ones that haven't been out yet, I let them loose in the late afternoon and have one or more of my children babysit them. We hang out there with them untill sun down and watch to see what they do on their own naturally. If they don't go in on their own we throw some scratch feed into the building, if they still don't go in we herd them in.

The ones I have had the most trouble with roosting in the building I made for them is the banty chickens. They are pretty good at flying so they commonly fly up on stuff or into trees to roost.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:28 PM
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Feed *very* lightly in the morning if at all, let them run during the day, and at 'bedtime'/at dusk, take a bucket of food out to their coop and call 'chick chick!' or bang the bucket or whatever, and dump the food in a feeder inside the coop. When they (very hungry birds) all run in to eat, shut the door and leave them in overnight. Let them out in the morning. Repeat for several evenings in a row, and they will put themselves up at night and all you have to do is go out and shut the door. When they put themselves up at night, you can start feeding in the mornings. They want to find someplace to perch, so put perches inside their coop and when it gets dusk, they will automatically put themselves up.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:35 PM
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We do just what the others said and ours all go in at night on their own. I go to lock them up and thereall i do is a head count then lock the door.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:41 PM
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My girls go in at night without any coaxing. If I need to get them back into the henhouse at any particular time during the day (letting the dogs run loose, whatever), I have a bag of dried mealworms I shake around. It's like crack for chickens, they come-a-runnin...
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:03 PM
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Show em a picture of Colonel Sanders and they'll all run for cover!
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:41 PM
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or Mr. Cleaver!!!
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:09 PM
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Thanks everyone!

Our plan was to feed them at night, and that seems to be working, save a few stragglers we have to rustle into the coop. We've also observed that they seem to hover around their water in this heat during the day, so their water acts like an invisible ball and chain.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:18 PM
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On occasion I have about half the flock holding a "Committee Meeting" at dusk. They gather, stand on several limbs, preen and talk about the politics of the day. The dog and I have to break them up and they all scurry to the coop door to head inside.

It's funny though, most nights they are just hanging out, but then they all start the "Great and Obnoxious Cluck". They get everyone clucking and raising the roof together and it is a N*O*I*S*E.

Sometimes I think they are gathering to plot the takeover of the property!!


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Old 06-27-2012, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twyggy View Post
Hey guys and gals!

We just bought 9 acres here in the Ozarks, and we're transitioning from city slicker to bonafide country permaculturists, so I apologize if the bombardment of noob questions I'm about to make over the next couple of months in this sub-forum get annoying.

And yes, I've googled to exhaustion all the questions I'm asking you guys. I'm asking them because I want YOUR opinions, not googles!

All that being said, we just let our little two month old chickens run free in the yard for the first time today, and we're a little worried that we're not gonna get them back at dusk, like we had planned.

They're all just being happy chickens and so far haven't traveled more than 20 feet from the coop they've spent the first couple months of their life in.

So, how did you guys train your chickens to come back home for the night?

Thanks for your input!
Bit late for you but...

I keep newbies caged for a fortnight. Whenever i go to feed them, at dusk, I bang the bucket and yell 'here, took took took took took.'

They get used to it being associated with food.

Then when they're allowed out, when bedtime comes at dusk I go out and yell 'heeeeere took took took took took' and they come running full tilt from 50 yards away and hurtle into the run, where i pour food out. They're eating, i leave.

They try to get home at night anyway but they can get lost. They can get confused, they can go round and round the chicken coop trying to find the door... they are beyond thick and if mummy can lead them in it certainly helps.
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