Query about bedtime

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Clatters
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Query about bedtime

Post by Clatters » Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:54 am

Hi. This is my first ever post, but I have been lurking here for quite a time and have learnt a great deal from the many threads.

I have had my girls for 6 months. It has been a hugely enjoyable experience, especially for my 7 year old son who is perfectly capable of doing most of the daily care tasks under supervision. We have 7 birds and I sell the eggs to my colleagues; the takings go to my employer’s sponsored charity and we have raised over £200. We are having real fun.

Anyway, my girls are being a bit difficult about going to bed. They have a house in a secure run and at dusk four or five of them climb onto the top of the house rather than going inside. I gather from what I have read here that they will always go for the highest perch. I have been going into the run every night and lifting them off the top of the house to put them inside as I felt that they might be getting too cold outside. They are still laying well.

Am I doing the right thing by putting them inside or should I just leave them to do as they wish?

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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chrismahon
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Re: Query about bedtime

Post by chrismahon » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:08 pm

Welcome to the forum Clatters. Yes you are right- chickens will roost on the highest available perch and you will see them in the evening looking skywards all around for somewhere suitable. This is just instinctive though, as they will usually eventually roost where they always have, unless something is discouraging that. The usual culprit is red mite in my experience, but it could perhaps be something else disturbing them? Check the coop thoroughly. It will be extremely bad luck to have red mite so early and if so it may well be that they came with the hens?

It's a bit cold for them to be outside, so they must be desperate. If there is nothing in the coop keep putting them inside.
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Marigold
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Re: Query about bedtime

Post by Marigold » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:48 pm

Hi Clatters, and welcome from me, too. I'm glad your girls are doing so well, and being so productive.
How many hens have you got altogether? I'm not sure if you mean 4 or 5 of them stay outside the coop whilst the others go inside, or whether you only have 4-5 and all of them stay out. And what sort of coop do you have, what size is it, and what lengths are the perches? (I'm just checking whether there is actually enough room in there for all of them to be comfortable.) Have they been roosting outside all summer, since you got them, or did they go in the coop at first and change their minds later on? Lastly, what means of ventilation is built into the coop design, and do you also leave the pophole open overnight for extra air and so they can get out when they want to in the morning?
I think a massive redmite problem is unlikely now it's cold and dark, especially if the coop isn't being used very much. I had a new lot of hens this Spring, and all summer they all roosted on a high perch under the roof of the run, which was excellent for them in the hot weather as they got maximum air and cooler temperatures than being shut up in a coop. When it got colder I took the perch down, and 'helped' them to see that the coop was a possible alternative, and after a couple of nights all but one of them went in on their own. I had to catch the last one for several nights after dark, but soon she went in with the others. So if you want them to go into the coop, jut persevere with helping them to see sense - don't go down too early, wait until its very nearly dark when they will really be wanting to feel safe and go to sleep.
Staying out on top of the coop isn't necessarily a bad thing - chickens hate heat and stuffy conditions, but are very hardy birds and resilient to cold, especially if under a roof and protected from wet and windy conditions. They really like airy conditions, and it's not good for them to be shut up in a poorly-ventilated coop where condensation will form from their breathing, and from damp feathers drying off overnight. So that's why I never shut the pophole, whatever the weather, although the pophole end faces into a side corner of the run which is covered by transparent tarpaulin to block direct wind and rain from blowing straight into the coop. As you say you have a secure run, you could safely leave the pophole open, (but everyone should have this anyway as foxes will strike at any time of day, not only at night.)
Clatters
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Re: Query about bedtime

Post by Clatters » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:31 pm

Thank you for your replies.

I’ve had a really good clean out today, but I try to do that as often as I can anyway. I inspected the house and the birds but can’t see any evidence of anything untoward. I’ll keep a beady eye open.

The house itself is a Betty house; I can’t remember the exact model but it allows up to 10 birds and I have 7. Of those 7 birds, 4 or 5 will hit the roof every night. My two Black Rocks are the best at going inside but the others are more reluctant. The run has its own roof and is fairly sheltered, so they’re not exposed too badly if they’re outside. There is plenty of perching space inside when they’re all in there.

When I first got them they would all go inside at night; then the hot weather came and some wanted to stay out, but when the weather cooled they stuck to this habit. I’ve tried leaving the pop hole open overnight but it makes no difference to their bedtime behaviour.

I’ll carry on putting them in but it’s not what they seem to want.
valeriebutterley
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Re: Query about bedtime

Post by valeriebutterley » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:04 am

Hello Clatters and welcome,

Please don't let them roost outside unless they are truly safe and foxproof.

I did and the fox got in and killed 6 one night, I thought my run was foxproof, but he bit the chicken wire through at floor level.


I do have one very silly and tame girl who waits for me EVERY night to put her on to the hut roost with her mates, bur she is very tame and silly!
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