Saturday, May 23, 2015

Coop Training

When we moved the chickens into their coop a little over a week ago, we just assumed that they would understand that that was their home and that's where they slept at night. 
I know, I know, we're na├»ve and totally clueless. 
Hey, this is our first time!
This was absolutely not the case!  We would go out at dusk to shut their coop door and they would all be huddled together in a corner outside.  Basically on top of one another.  I would get two inside and one would run out.  You know that saying 'one step forward and two steps back'?  Yeah, it was like that. 
It would take two of us to get them rounded up, inside and get the door shut before one of them escaped again.  We realized that if we turned on the red heat lamp inside the coop they'd all file in.  It was nice that we didn't have to fight to get them inside, but we didn't want them trained by the light.


So, after a little research, we realized that the chickens were confused.  Apparently, chickens do not handle change well and are prone to a little anxiety.  When you change their home, they don't understand where 'home' is and aren't sure where to go.  Those poor, dumb birds. 
 I kid!  I kid!
In order to teach the girls that the coop was their home and that's where they needed to roost at night, we coop trained them.  What that means is that we kept them inside the coop with no access to the outdoors so that they would learn that the coop was their home.
In order to coop train, the weather has to be mild.  Nothing is going to make your chicken more upset and anxious than you locking it inside a sauna for days.  Thankfully, we had some cool weather this past week so we were able to keep them inside the coop for 3 1/2 days.
You want to be sure that the temperature inside the coop does not exceed 70 degrees.  Chickens, since they don't have sweat glands, do not handle the heat well.  We, of course, went in the coop every day to give them fresh water and to make sure their food was full.
How long you have to coop train depends totally on the chickens and how long it takes for them to understand where their home is.  It may take a couple days or even a week; it could even take longer.  If they still are not going inside at dusk to roost, try, try again.
After being inside for three full days, I let our chickens out yesterday afternoon.  Jason went to go check on them last night (before dusk) and they were all inside the coop roosting.  Hopefully this wasn't just a coincidence and they continue with this!
~ Sara :)

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