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Roosting Problem
#1
Hello All!

I have been keeping Sussex hens for over ten years now and they have been an absolute dream. Recently we have come by a beautiful Bantam Cockerel (Legbar) and two bantam hens of doubtful breed (!).

Having kept them since hatching and introducing them gradually to the great outdoors, they now free range around our garden but (and here is the problem) refuse to take themselves back to their coop on a night time (even though during their 'youth' we kept them in a safe run area and they were happy to go in to their house).

Now they all roost in one of our apple trees, which wouldn't be such a bid deal of course if the cockerel didn't wake the neighbourhood up at dawn!  It is causing a bit of a problem now and I would really appreciate any suggestions on how we can get them used to going into their coop on their own.

Many Thanks

Dave Cool
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#2
I presume you've tried perching them in there after they have perched in the apple tree, or can't you reach them?
Failing that you could make a temporary run surrounding the coop so they are confined with the coop as the only available roost for a while, you'd probably need to roof or net over it to stop them flying up though, then once they are using it you could let them roam again.
Also make sure you don't have a red mite infestation which is discouraging them from using the coop - do the hens lay in there?
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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#3
Im having same problem with two welsummer pullets.Every night we have to pick them out of an old ark thats insecure and pop them in the shed with all the rest.
I could close the ark to stop them but dont fancy playing hunt the pullets every night, we know where they are.
Could you wing clip to see if he then cant get up into the tree?
Patterdales..there is no doubt they are addictive,therein lies the danger.While living with lots,you will grow poorer and stranger. dog run K9
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#4
Welcome back Greenman! The only time I've had trouble with chooks not going into their house at night was in the middle of last two summers, when I found the place infested with red mite. But that was all the hens that wouldn't go in. I have a plastic coop now and all was well this year. I'm thinking wing clipping to maybe stop your birds going up into the tree could be an option - at least you might be able to catch them to put them home? Odd though...maybe they'll change their mind when the colder weather comes....
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#5
Thanks for all your tips and advice.  There is no evidence of Red Mite, so I think we can safely rule that out.  All wings have been clipped about three weeks ago when we released them to Free Range.  Remarkably, they all seem to be still capable of reaching limited heights.  I suppose I could try clipping the other wing on each bird, but is that unfair?

Interestingly, when all were confined to the run and prior to free ranging, they all took to roosting on top of the coop with the Cockerel! I have resorted to taking the male down from the tree each night but the ladies are always out of reach. Perhaps the colder weather may change behaviour and they seek refuge inside *fingers crossed*

Never have this problem with the Sussex (who are housed separately).  All very strange Wink
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#6
I think you have naughty chickens Greenman Big Grin I had some in the past who always went up in the trees and they carried on through the winter too.
I just checked every night that they were up there and left them to it.Not a lot you can do really if they are up high.
Could you entice them into the house with corn before they roost?
Patterdales..there is no doubt they are addictive,therein lies the danger.While living with lots,you will grow poorer and stranger. dog run K9
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#7
(05-09-2018, 08:30 AM)k9crystal Wrote: Could you entice them into the house with corn before they roost?

Ha, good idea............  Actually, last night I resorted to getting steps out and retrieving all hens plus cockerel, the latter first who happily strutted around in the dark in the run until all two of the ladies were put in the coop.  He then put himself away!  Which got me thinking..............

Encourage the hens in first and then his natural protective instinct may coax him in......... sort of reverse poultry psychology.  So, now I just have to work on getting the ladies in.  l'll try the corn...........

chin Smile
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#8
Clipping the other wing is unlikely to help as I understand it. Clipping doesn't really stop them being able to fly unless you take a lot away (though less well), but unbalances them so they can't coordinate it as well, so both clipped might actually make it easier for them! That's my understanding anyway, though I've never used clipping myself - brahmas don't get very high!!
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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#9
I agree Sutty - I've always heard that you only clip the wings on one side to unbalance them. Anyway - do let us know if the corn trick works Greenman! I hadn't thought about it, but that's how I get them into their pen every night, although they are not dependant on it as I found out last night. I was too late with the corn and they were all snuggled up inside....
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#10
The corn tin works if they think they are getting a treat  Smile that's what pigeon fanciers do to get racing pigeons in the loft.
CHUCKLERS RULE THE ROOST - Dave. Zen Seeker of The Board. rabbit run
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#11
Thanks for your advice everyone.  Tonight I will start with the corn approach and I will keep you all posted chicken run
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#12
any results??
Patterdales..there is no doubt they are addictive,therein lies the danger.While living with lots,you will grow poorer and stranger. dog run K9
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#13
(17-09-2018, 11:36 AM)k9crystal Wrote: any results??

I was wondering too!
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#14
Thanks for your interest!

Its a yes and no really.  Yes, the corn coaxes them into the run but none of them are housing themselves.  The flighty one (Lucy) just clears off over a 9' fence when it suits her and spends the night higher up the apple tree, out of reach and full of corn (she's is one smart cookie).  The cockerel roosts at low level in a plumb tree in the run(at least he is easy to reach and put in the house) and the smallest bantam just roosts on top of the coop!  Meanwhile, the Sussex continue to quietly put themselves away every night............

Sooooooo, its wait and watch.  Im hoping that when the poor weather comes in they might see sense and seek refuge in the coop but based on recent evidence Im not so sure.  I will let you know what happens but it all is really strange.   Wink
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#15
(18-09-2018, 03:42 PM)Greenman Wrote: Thanks for your interest!

Its a yes and no really.  Yes, the corn coaxes them into the run but none of them are housing themselves.  The flighty one (Lucy) just clears off over a 9' fence when it suits her and spends the night higher up the apple tree, out of reach and full of corn (she's is one smart cookie).  The cockerel roosts at low level in a plumb tree in the run(at least he is easy to reach and put in the house) and the smallest bantam just roosts on top of the coop!  Meanwhile, the Sussex continue to quietly put themselves away every night............

Sooooooo, its wait and watch.  Im hoping that when the poor weather comes in they might see sense and seek refuge in the coop but based on recent evidence Im not so sure.  I will let you know what happens but it all is really strange.   Wink

9' fence?! oh my That's one determined girl!! At least she is out of reach and, as you say, may come down when the comes to winter/bad weather.
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