We got our first four chooks yesterday morning, and as I thought it would be mean to shut them in their new henhouse all afternoon and night (it was hot yesterday too), we put them into their run, cue dh and I having to retrieve them all from the floor in the back corner of the run, behind the house, and pop them into the house.
Tonight, two of them were in the house as dusk approached, but when we went down to check again, there was only one (who I think will be the boss) in the house, the others were all huddled in a heap on the floor behind the house again...
What do we do? We have picked them up and put them in the house again tonight, but is there anything else we should do to persuade them that they need to head into their house at night? Do they have to sleep inside the house at night? The run is pretty secure we think.
We listened for a bit after we put them in the house, and there were a few scuffly type noises and cheeps, but then they started 'chirring' and sounded like they were contented?
If it makes a difference they are all only around 8-9weeks old, but have been in a run with a house (which I assume they slept in at night!) at the breeders?
I'm sure someone who knows a lot more about it than I do will be along in a moment, but to me, it sounds as though you're doing exactly the right thing. Keep popping them in the hen house and they'll get the message in a day or two.
We have a lot of free ranging chickens (40+ at the moment) when we have new ones whatever the age we shut them in the coop for at least 24 hours with plenty of water, food and ventilation. This lets them know that this is home so that when they do go out they know where to come back to. We used to do what you are doing when we first started out but after 3 weeks with one batch of constantly picking them up and putting them in we asked some locals what they did and this was there advice. It works for me and a day inside isnt cruel if they have food water and ventilation.
Hi Magpie, if they don't do it tonight then get them in and keep them in for 24 hours. when the new ones arrive lock them all in together but keep a close eye to stop bullying. if you lock the new ones in and keep the old ones out then they won't be able to sleep in side as they are doing at the moment during the day and may forget that this is where they live. Chickens are lovely but not that bright! As for what they think of you - food, water, food water that's what they think of us humans!
And thanks again mummymeister for your help, I think I agree on the food, water, food, water already - I gave them a few dried mealworms yesterday evening, and they're still leaving scorch marks in the woodchips in their haste to be first over today...
glad to hear your chooks have got it sorted - we've had our first chickens for a week now and they took 4 days of being 'put to bed' before they worked it out - now they go to bed about 9.15pm without any prompting.