You have spent a lot of time and money to create the best coop for your flock. And it can be a little concerning when your chickens don’t want to go in the coop at night. You might wonder what you are doing wrong or if the coop is adequate. First, we will find out why your chickens don’t like the coop. Then we can tell you how to get chickens to go into the coop at night.
Reason #1: The Coop Is New
When can chicks stay outside at night? Usually, around 4-5 weeks old. But if you just moved your chickens from a brooder into a coop, your chickens don’t know what it is. They have gone from a nice cozy brooder where everything has been constant to an enclosure. That is a lot of freedom, and it can be a little disorienting.
Young chickens aren’t the only ones that have this problem, though. If you have an older flock and coop, you could have this problem. But both of these cases have the same issue. Your flock doesn’t understand that the coop is their new home.
The best solution for this is to lock your hens in the coop for a few days. As long as the weather is nice and your chickens have food and water, they will be fine. You don’t want to do this in temperatures above 75, as your hens could overheat. You will also need to check on them often to make sure no fighting is happening.
Closing your hens in the coop for 2-3 days gets your hens scent all over. They get familiar with the coop and start to associate it with their home. Once they understand this, your flock will gladly go into their coop at night.
Reason #2: Insecurities
For some, the reason your chickens won’t go in coop at night is that it’s dark. Chickens can’t see well at night, and going into a darker coop makes them insecure. Since chickens are prey animals, this makes a lot of sense. Their instincts are to stay where they feel protected and be on guard. Dark, unfamiliar places are at the top of a chicken’s avoid list.
A simple way to solve this problem is to hang a low wattage light. A 25-watt bulb or even a small flashlight is enough to train chickens to go in the coop. And since they are such low wattages, it shouldn’t affect their sleep.
Reason #3: Pests
If your chickens stopped going in coop at night suddenly, pests might be the cause. Pests like mites, bugs, mice, and rats will make chickens uncomfortable. And who wouldn’t? No one likes sleeping in infested rooms.
The first step is to identify what types of pests you have. If you have bugs, using a chicken safe insecticide is the best. Products like Diatomaceous Earth kills most insects and repels all future bugs.
If mice and rats are your problems, you need to find out where they come in. Look for gaps in the floorboards, walls, holes in the ceiling, or too large vents. Any space wider than 1/2 an inch is large enough for rodents to enter the coop. Once you find the point of entry, you should cover it with hardware cloth.
But covering the holes is only step one. You then need to remove any rodents still in the coop. Products like the Victor TIN CAT Live Catch Mouse Trap catch the mice and don’t pose a risk to your hens. And while you are at it, you should also check for snakes. Usually, where there are mice, snakes are not far behind.
Reason #4: Cleanliness
Another possibility for chickens sleeping outside coop is the smell. If it has been a while since you have cleaned the coop, ammonia can build up. They won’t want to sleep in a small room with poop all over. No one would.
This solution is the easiest of all. All you need to do is clean your coop more often. If you don’t have much time to clean your coop as often as necessary, you might consider a deep litter method.
With the deep litter method, your coop’s floor has beneficial bacterial that composts the feces. All you would need to do is rake and turn the bedding regularly and clean twice a year.
Another solution for ammonia buildup is to ventilate your coop correctly. Vents low to the ground in summer and higher up in winter are the best.
Reason #5: Bullies
Do you have one chicken not going in coop at night? Whether they get kicked out or choosing not to go in on their own. The reason might be that the others are picking on that one. Some signs other than this of bullying are missing feathers, pushed out by others at feeding, and loud physical fights.
The cause of bullying could be many things. If your hen is sick or smaller than the others, the healthy hens will pick on it. Or if your hen is new, they might be establishing a pecking order. And sometimes, not all hens get along. So how do you fix this?
How to get chickens to go into the coop at night in this case? The answer is, you don’t. The first thing you should do is check that the hen is healthy. If all seems to be well, you might want to set up a temporary isolation area until she feels safe. Then you can start the reintroduction process. But you should never force hens to cohabitate. Forcing hens together will only end with bad news, especially if they are in closed spaces.
Reason # 6: Space
When most of us built our coops, we had an ideal flock size in mind. But most of us also add chickens here and there for variety. Except, when was the last time you did your chicken math?
Too many chickens in a small space are uncomfortable. Overcrowding could cause messy sleeping areas, fighting, and smellier coops. If your hens don’t have enough room to roost or move about, they will refuse the coop.
To do your chicken math, you need 2-3 square feet of space per chicken in your coop. You should also measure your roosting areas. Each coop needs at least 10 inches of roost space per hen to sleep. If your coop is on the smaller size or barely hitting the minimum, you should consider upgrading.
Reason #7: Habit Of Free-Roaming
It happens to the best of us. We got so caught up in life that we forgot to close the hens in. When this happens, your hens usually find a tree or somewhere up high to roost in for the night. This is ok to do on occasion. But if you do it enough, your chickens might prefer the outdoors to a coop.
Will chickens go back to the coop at night? Sometimes they do if you leave the door open. But you might have to re-train your chickens. In the next section, we will tell you how to train chickens to go in coop.
How To Train Chickens To Go In Coop
For most of these reasons, chickens will develop an adverse reaction to coops. Here are our top three tips on how to get chickens to go into the coop at night.
Tip #1: Food And Treats
Luring your hens into the coop with food and treats is the best trick. You can train chickens to go in coop by giving small amounts of their favorite food. Nonchalantly you should scatter a little around the front of the coop. And then, being careful, start slowly creeping toward the coop door.
Chickens are smart, and they might catch on. But if you make the treat irresistible, they will go in the coop. Be ready and shut the door as the last one goes in.
Tip #2: Habit And Routine
Another vital part of training chickens to go in coop is to keep routine. Chickens don’t like spontaneity. If they can predict what happens next, they do it without a fight. At the same time every day, you should have an evening routine. What time do chickens go in the coop? The time for you may vary, but you want to do it right before the sun sets. For most of us, this is around 6 pm. That is an excellent time because it’s still light enough to see.
If you free-roam, you might start to gather your chickens. Giving a small evening snack to bring them all in is a great option.
Tip #3: Bell Training
Chickens have impeccable hearing. If you want to bring in your chickens for the night, ringing a bell is a great option. Your whole flock can hear no matter where they are. And the bell becomes their training signal.
Summing It Up
There are plenty of reasons why chickens might stop going in the coop at night. But with these tips and tricks, you will know how to get chickens to go into the coop at night. And they will do it without a fight.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!