One of the most important aspects of keeping chickens is ensuring their safety. As a chicken owner, it is crucial to make sure that your birds are secure and protected from predators. One of the best ways to do this is by getting them into their coop at night. But how do you get your chickens to go into their coop when they don’t want to? In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks that have worked for me to get my chickens into their coop at night.
Train Your Chickens Early
Training your chickens to go into their coop at night is an important aspect of raising backyard chickens. It not only ensures their safety from predators but also helps in keeping the coop clean and organized. The best time to start training your chickens is when they are still young chicks.
At a young age, chickens are curious and can quickly learn to associate their coop as their home base. To get started, allow your chicks to explore their coop during the day when it’s bright and safe. Provide them with food, water, and some comfortable bedding. This will help them feel at home in their coop.
As your chicks grow older and bigger, they can be moved into their coop permanently. To help them get used to their new home, place them in the coop at night when it’s time to go to bed. This will teach them that the coop is their safe space and that they should go into it at night.
During the first few nights, your chicks may be hesitant to go into the coop on their own. You can help them by gently guiding them into the coop with your hands. Once they are inside, leave the coop door open so they can come out in the morning.
Repeat this process for a few nights, and your chicks will quickly learn to associate the coop as their sleeping area. Soon, they will start going into the coop on their own at night without any prompting from you.
It’s important to note that not all chickens will be quick learners. Some may take longer to get used to the coop and may need a little more guidance. Be patient and persistent, and eventually, they will get the hang of it.
Establish a Routine
Establishing a consistent routine is key when it comes to training your chickens to go into their coop at night. Chickens are creatures of habit and thrive on routine, so it’s important to establish a predictable schedule for them.
One way to establish a routine is to feed your chickens at the same time each day. This can be in the morning or evening, depending on your schedule. By feeding them at the same time each day, they will start to associate that time with going back into their coop.
Another important aspect of the routine is closing their coop at the same time each night. Chickens are naturally diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and rest at night. Closing their coop at a consistent time each night will signal to them that it’s time to settle down for the night.
Providing fresh water is also an important part of the routine. Chickens need access to clean water at all times, but providing them with fresh water before bedtime can encourage them to go back into their coop.
Over time, your chickens will learn to expect this routine and will go into their coop at night without being prompted. They will feel more secure and comfortable in their coop because it’s become a familiar and safe space for them.
In addition, it’s important to be consistent with the routine. Chickens can easily become confused and disoriented if the routine is not followed consistently. If you need to make any changes to the routine, do so gradually and over time so that your chickens have a chance to adjust.
Use Treats as Incentives
Chickens are notorious for their love of treats, and using them as incentives can be a fun and effective way to encourage them to go into their coop at night. Treats like mealworms, scratch grains, or pieces of fruit are all excellent choices that can be used to lure your chickens into their coop. You can start by placing a trail of treats leading into the coop, which will pique your chickens’ curiosity and encourage them to follow the trail. As they make their way inside, you can reward them with a few more treats to reinforce the behavior.
It’s important to note that while treats can be a helpful tool, they should not be relied on as the sole means of getting your chickens into their coop. Using treats in combination with other strategies, like establishing a routine and training your chickens early, can create a comprehensive approach that helps your chickens understand when it’s time to go to bed. And remember, treats should always be given in moderation to avoid overfeeding or creating unhealthy eating habits.
Use a Light Source
Using a light source is one of the most effective and easiest methods to train chickens to go into their coop at night. Chickens are naturally attracted to light and this instinct can be used to your advantage. However, it is important to note that chickens need a period of darkness to rest and recharge their bodies. Therefore, it is recommended to use a small, low-wattage light source, such as a flashlight or a string of Christmas lights, to provide just enough light to guide them into the coop without disrupting their natural sleeping pattern.
To start, place the light source near the entrance of the coop, but not inside it. This will create a pathway of light leading towards the coop and will attract the chickens towards it. Once they are close to the entrance, gently guide them into the coop with the light. It may take a few nights for them to get used to the light and to go into the coop on their own, but with patience and consistency, they will eventually learn to associate the light with going to bed.
It is important to turn off the light source once the chickens are inside the coop. This will signal to them that it is time to settle down and go to sleep. Leaving the light on all night can disrupt their sleep cycle and lead to health problems.
It is also important to note that using a light source as a method to get chickens into their coop at night may not work for all chickens. Some chickens may be more stubborn or have different preferences. Therefore, it is important to try different methods and see what works best for your flock.
Round Them Up
Rounding up your chickens may seem like a simple and straightforward method, but it requires a bit of skill and patience. Firstly, it’s important to approach your chickens calmly and quietly, so as not to startle them or cause them to panic. Slowly and gently herd them towards their coop, making sure to move at their pace and not to push them too quickly.
It can be helpful to have a designated person leading the chickens and another person closing the coop door behind them. This ensures that all the chickens make it into the coop safely and that none of them escape. A stick or broom can be used to gently guide the chickens in the right direction without hurting them.
If you have a particularly stubborn chicken who refuses to go into the coop, using a chicken net can be a useful tool. The net should be used gently and with care, as rough handling can cause injury to your chickens. Once the chicken is safely in the net, it can be transported to the coop and gently placed inside.
Remember, patience is key when rounding up your chickens. Don’t rush the process or force your chickens to move too quickly, as this can cause them to become stressed and fearful. Take your time and remain calm, and eventually, all of your chickens will be safely tucked away in their coop for the night.
Getting your chickens into their coop at night is an essential part of keeping them safe and secure. By training them early, establishing a routine, using treats as incentives, using a light source, or simply rounding them up, you can make this process much easier. Remember to be patient and consistent, and over time, your chickens will learn to go into their coop on their own.