How to handle chickens refusing to return to their coop

A stubborn chicken that will do the opposite of its owner’s will is one of the worst things for a homesteader.
This can be especially problematic if the chicken refuses to go into the coop at night.

Chickens are creatures that are used to the routine. If they are taught how to sleep in a coop at night from an early age, they will go to bed when the sunsets. If they suddenly stop doing this, they likely have a reason.
Richard Brzozowski (University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator) said that “it’s given that poultrys seek comfort.” “Rooting and looking for a suitable roost during the evening is a natural behaviour.”

Brzozowski said that chickens could decide not to return to the coop at night for various reasons. So it’s up to the homesteader and the chicken to determine why this happens, correct it, and get their birds back into their coop.

Julianne Boucher, a southern Maine chicken farmer, is doing exactly that now that their flock has chosen to spend the night in a tree near their coop.

Boucher stated, “I cut some branches and turned on the light in the coop for fall and enticed the birds into the coop by giving them treats.” “It worked for 4 days, and they are now back in their tree. I can’t get them in the coop anymore.”

Boucher is concerned that her leghorn chickens could get frostbite from the cold nights or be prey to predators. So Boucher is eager to use a pole saw to remove the tree’s lower branches, so her leghorns cannot catch the perch.

Brzozowski stated that before Boucher begins cutting more branches, which could only encourage the birds to roost higher in the tree, she must first figure out why the chickens are not using their coop.
He said that the three main reasons chickens won’t use their coop are: they feel threatened, don’t like being outside, and don’t want to leave the pen.

Brzozowski stated that there could be an animal wild or domestic who frequents the coop. “The poultry keeper should inspect the [coop] to identify possible culprits.”

It is essential to inspect the coop for entry points that predators could use. This includes tunnels through the floor, windows, or ventilation openings. Brzozowski suggested that a motion-activated camera be installed to capture predators in action.

A variety of factors can cause unsatisfactory conditions in chicken coops, he stated. For example, chickens will not be comfortable in drafty, damp, moldy, or dirty enclosures. Chickens won’t tolerate uninvited guests and may leave a pen if they feel unsafe. They may also be driven out by an infestation of mites, fleas, or other parasites.

They might not like the height or shape of their perches or may find them difficult to place on their preferred nests.

However, even though the coop is clean and tidy, the great outdoors can be just as comfortable.

Brzozowski stated that the chickens might have found another spot to rest because nighttime conditions were quite pleasant.

Boucher stated that she had checked her chicken coop for predator or rodent activity signs and given it a thorough clean. She also added straw to the cell. But, unfortunately, they are still refusing to buy it.

Brzozowski says that chicken owners can convince their flock to come in each night by offering a little scratch feed or a treat every evening just before bedtime. They will soon form a routine and become accustomed to this treatment, and they will eventually be able to enter the house on their own.

He stated that they would learn to listen by ringing a bell, rattling a bucket or can while offering scratch feed, or the treat just before bedtime.

The coming Maine winter might do what Boucher cannot.

Brzozowski stated that “the colder nights will likely cause them to return into the house.”

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