You may have to teach your chickens to go into the coop at night. Naturally, your birds should return to their coop since they are living things that with safety precautions. But, they may refuse to return because the housing is new, there are predators, they are being bullied, there are worm infestations, etc.
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6 ways to get chickens back in the coop at night
Training is one of the best ways of safeguarding your flock against predators. Have a bit of patience when training your birds since they are not as intelligent. Follow the guidelines below to teach chickens to go into the coop at night.
1. Make the coop attractive
To make a coop attractive to chickens at night, ensure that It has sufficient light so that chickens can see well when they go into the coop and feel secure. Then, turn off the light for them to roost.
After that, provide enough space in the coop or reduce the number of birds in a coop. Bullying usually occurs when the chickens fight each other for control and space. Signs of bullying within your flock are missing feathers and injuries.
Then check on the following:
- Make the coop safe and secure from potential predators, like foxes and wild dogs.
- Supply your chickens with enough food and or treats inside the coop.
- Keep the chicken’s house clean. Chicken droppings contain a lot of ammonia. The increased ammonia levels may make the environment smelly and toxic if the coop is not always clean. Safeguard the coop also against ammonia accumulation by providing proper ventilation.
- Pests and worms like bugs and mites do not attack your chickens in the coop. Use any natural solutions against poultry pests and worms, such as Diatomaceous Earth. For rodents, set a trap.
- There are enough roosting bars. But, the highest structures for roosting should not pose leg-breaking risks to your poultry.
- You avoid providing your birds with too much freedom when they are free-ranging. That is, especially to avoid the chance of finding better places for resting and roosting.
Hopefully, the tips provided above are enough for you to teach your chickens to return to the coop at night. Fortunately, chickens like following what they learn. By going back into the coop, your chickens and chicks are secure and safe from any predators in the dark.
2. Prepare the coop
Before training your chickens to return to their house at night or in the evening, ensure the accommodation is conducive and comfortable. The space should be enough for a couple of birds and allow perching.
The provision of sufficient water and food is a must. And the temperature of the chicken’s coop should be favorable. With training, you will keep your birds inside for a considerable duration. If the coop is too cold or hot, your birds may experience different health problems.
For providing the right temperature, for instance, you can either rely on fans or relocate the coop to a location with less sunlight exposure.
It takes about a few days for your birds to get used to a new coop or coop location. Chicks may take even more days to familiarize themselves with the new environment.
Forcing your birds to stay inside a coop eventually realizes it is their new home.
When confining your birds in a coop, make sure it is possible to provide water and food without the chance of escape.
After the end of the confinement period, remove your birds from the coop and leave them to free-range around your home. Do not forget to remove litter and clean the beddings.
At night, if the chickens do not return to the coop, it indicates the training was unsuccessful. Thus, implement another week of confinement for the chickens to see further and get comfortable with the coop.
Once the chickens have accepted their home, they will always return to it at night to rest or hide from predators.
4. Training your flock to respond to your sound
Determine a human sound to use regularly. You can use different sounds to get the attention of or call your chickens. Even though chickens are not that intelligent regarding sound, they will get used to a repeated one. So, stick to a particular sound for communication.
Alternatively, use either a bell or a whistle to call your birds. You can also try hitting the chicken coop with an object to get their attention.
5. Use a treat
Treats you can give your chickens include blueberries, bread, corns, oatmeal balls, and watermelon cubes.
The idea is that your birds will learn to associate a particular sound you make with a treat. The treat should also be given inside a coop so that the birds instinctively assume it is time to be inside.
6. Give your chickens enough learning time
It may take some time, even weeks, for your birds to fully understand that you are informing them to return to the coop. Using treats may hasten the learning process. When chickens see you carrying food liked, they will come running to you to be served.
Once your chickens are responding, try calling them while concealing the treats. Make your birds respond to your calls even if they do not see something delicious.
Why your chickens may be sleeping outside the coop
If chickens your chickens always go into their coop and they suddenly hesitate, it means they are scared. Chickens are naturally defensive since they have lots of predators. If they get spooked, they will get defensive. Some chickens may not want to go into the coop at night as:
- They fear attack by predators.
- There are parasitic infestations.
- They try to be stubborn and unruly, especially if they are not mature.
- The coop is not spacious and comfortable.
- The coop location or the coop is new, and so chickens need a few days to get used to the new surrounding
- They are being bullied, and the baby chicks are not getting enough sleep.
- The coop is poorly ventilated, allowing the accumulation of ammonia and even moisture from the droppings.