How to put chickens to bed

I’m hardly an expert on this subject, as some nights I can’t put my two small humans to bed without multiple breakdowns and tears (often mine). However, after one tricky night, the chickens are much easier to put to bed than the small humans.

I read that chickens go to sleep shortly after dusk, and instinctively find the highest, safest location they can. So, naturally, their elevated and enclosed coop should be their preferred bed for the night. The first day we put them into their new coop and run, I put them in the coop area then they quickly hopped out the door and into the run. I figured they’d just hop right back up there at bedtime and tuck themselves in, then didn’t give it a second thought. Until it started to get dark out. I hadn’t seen the girls go back into the coop at all during the day, and started to worry that they couldn’t hop all the way back up onto the roost. So Matt hurriedly built a little ramp and screwed it into place. By this point, it was nearly dark and the girls were settled into a cozy little pile in the corner of the run, falling asleep. I was able to catch one and put her in the coop, but I couldn’t reach any further into the run to grab the others. I was worried about them, but couldn’t think of anything else to try so resignedly decided to leave them for the night.

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Matt the chicken-whisperer saved the night. Eventually, the chickens all got onto the roost but still wouldn’t go into the coop. Matt faced them and gently blew on them, and verrrrry slowly they inched away from him and towards the coop door. Finally, all but one made it into the coop. I reached in through the egg door and grabbed Jingle and placed her into the coop with the others, and we manually closed the interior door. Matt had disabled the automatic door earlier when it became clear they weren’t going inside on their own.

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I had read that you should keep the chickens shut in their coop for a few days when introducing them into their new coop and run so they can get adjusted and learn where their sleeping area is. They seemed to love being outside in the run, playing in the sun and the dirt so much, that I didn’t want to close them up for a longer time. But, chickens be chickens. So I put their food and a waterer into the coop and kept them there for the next day and night, then let them back out. That third night, they easily  found their way into the coop just after dusk, snuggled into the nest box together, and the automatic door closed behind them. Smooth sailing since then. Maybe they can teach my kids something.

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