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Discussion Starter #1
This is our third set of chickens, so we're not new to raising them, and we've never had such a problem with the other two. This time we went with Black Australorps and I swear that these are the hardest to train! Only two (out of three) have figured out how to get back in the coop, and none show an inclination to go in at night yet. The one who can't get herself back in is also the hardest to catch, giving us quite a run every night! She's skittish now and won't come near us if we put out food. Last night she threw herself at our patio door trying to get in the house to get away from us! (And I do mean she gathered herself up and launched herself at it with all of her might!) HELP!
 

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Lock them in the coop long enough for it to become a habit. They have to choose to go on the roost pole by having no other choices. They will go back to their spot every night if allowed. About three nights usually does it. A light on in the coop as it starts to get dark can help. So can a rooster, most will herd their girls in at night.
 
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We locked them in the coop the first three days, then allowed them only into the protected area so they'd learn the ramp. Fail (only one got it). Finally opened the main door to see if they'd learn to go back in that way. Fail, again only one figured it out. Locked them in again, then allowed them below into the protected area again--now 2 know how to use the ramp. Allowed them into the whole yard again and the same two can fly up for food. The third one doesn't have a clue and none of them head into it at night on their own. We've never had this issue before, same coop.
 

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only provide food when you want them in . call to them , whistle or such every time you feed . my chickens and ducks free range most days , I can call them in any time I want them in . even if I just let them out I can call them right back . never call without the food reward .
 

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Yep, we've been doing that, it's how the other two figured it out. That third gal either goes the other way or warily approaches food and then ducks and runs the moment you move at all. She's become so skittish! We can get the other two in, but she gives us a good bit of exercise unless we manage to get her first.

We also have tried from the beginning to get them used to being handled, and still work on that. We take them out by picking them up and cuddling them first, we cuddle during the day and we even let them come in the house where we can pick them up and cuddle them.

We've thought about leaving her out alone one night, but we don't want to be that cruel.
 

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I think some breeds just have certain personalities. I really like our welsummer eggs but they are (with the exception of the fayoumis) the most skittish. If she doesn't want to go in I'd leave her out and replace her with another $4-5 dollar hen but I have little patience for such things :)
 

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LOL Dyrne, yes, it's tempting! I just hope she figures it out soon and maybe it isn't cruel as much as it's a necessity to teach her to get in the coop by leaving her out. She'll huddle up on the patio and we have a fenced-in yard so she should be okay.
 

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OK, so by taking their food dish out of the coop onto the ground in front of it, then putting it back in but closer to the door where it was visible, the two that can get in did and one came back out and did it again and FINALLY! the third one figured it out and jumped up inside. It's like these girls forget where their food and water is once they're outside, definitely not the smartest batch of girls we've ever had. Now to teach them to do it at night. Sigh.

Oh, and @Barnbuilder, we can't have a rooster here--technically we can't have chickens, but the neighbors don't complain so the zoning officer pretends we don't (he's been here over a fence issue). But a rooster is out of the question, that would bring complaints. We chose the Black Australorps for their sociability and quietness.
 

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Just wait 'til after dark when they doze off for the night. Then grab 'em and pitch them in the coop. A couple days of them waking up inside, and they will catch on. No point chasing chickens in the daylight when they naturally freeze in place after dusk...

Never failed for me in 50 years of keeping chickens. I'm not a fan of Australorps, but they aren't THAT stupid.
 

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Just wait 'til after dark when they doze off for the night. Then grab 'em and pitch them in the coop. A couple days of them waking up inside, and they will catch on. No point chasing chickens in the daylight when they naturally freeze in place after dusk...

Never failed for me in 50 years of keeping chickens. I'm not a fan of Australorps, but they aren't THAT stupid.
That's a really good idea. I guess you just have to be smarter than the chickens. Thank you Alder, we'll try that one tonight.
 
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Yes, chasing chickens during daylight something that I don't do. Catch them, lock them in, leave them in for a couple days, then see if they learned where their roost is. Repeat as many times as necessary.
 
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Yes, chasing chickens during daylight something that I don't do. Catch them, lock them in, leave them in for a couple days, then see if they learned where their roost is. Repeat as many times as necessary.
We'll keep trying that then because we want them to know where their nesting boxes are when they start laying eggs--that's not something we feel like seeking all over the yard. By then if they don't know where to go they just go join their sisters.
 

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I know some people like the Australorps but the ones' I have had are so annoying skittish. If our chickens don't catch on in a few days of going in the coop they just end being a Darwin award winner. We have a new little hen tonight that seems to be in the running for that award.
 

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Have you tried a dim light in their coop---say comes on about 30 minutes before dark and stays on about 2 hrs? Another thing---is your coop well vented? If the coop is in the sun It would get hot and stay hotter for a while after dark---chickens would prefer to stay out where it is cooler---then its dark and they don't move after dark. I have raised 1000's from 27 different breeds, even game. Never been a problem picking them up after dark----before dark---forget it. When I gather them for Auction day---no outside lights---total darkness, dim light only on a second to get my bearings---flash on and off to get closer to them, then quick flash on and get them. I do have a light that flashes on and off fast I been using lately----it seems to be working good after dark.
 

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You may think that a fence will protect them if you don't get them inside...but some predators can climb...like raccoons...and/or grab them through the fence.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You may think that a fence will protect them if you don't get them inside...but some predators can climb...like raccoons...and/or grab them through the fence.
Yes, that's why I don't really want to do that so I'll follow the advice of others and if they don't go in on their own we'll wait until after dark and put them away when they won't run from us. Last night we had to put them away early due to thunderstorms rolling in and so we couldn't implement that strategy. I'm hoping that now that all of them can get back in, that all of them will put themselves to bed. They've been living in the coop for a couple of weeks now!
 

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Have you tried a dim light in their coop---say comes on about 30 minutes before dark and stays on about 2 hrs? Another thing---is your coop well vented? If the coop is in the sun It would get hot and stay hotter for a while after dark---chickens would prefer to stay out where it is cooler---then its dark and they don't move after dark. I have raised 1000's from 27 different breeds, even game. Never been a problem picking them up after dark----before dark---forget it. When I gather them for Auction day---no outside lights---total darkness, dim light only on a second to get my bearings---flash on and off to get closer to them, then quick flash on and get them. I do have a light that flashes on and off fast I been using lately----it seems to be working good after dark.
No, we only used a light in their coop the first couple of nights because we've never needed it with any of our other girls. The coop is well-vented and sits under a lilac bush, shaded by our house and that bush most of the time so that it doesn't get too hot. We really have to do the after-dark thing. Well, my husband does--I'm night blind and afraid of the dark myself so I also tend not to move around much in the dark.
 

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No, we only used a light in their coop the first couple of nights because we've never needed it with any of our other girls. The coop is well-vented and sits under a lilac bush, shaded by our house and that bush most of the time so that it doesn't get too hot. We really have to do the after-dark thing. Well, my husband does--I'm night blind and afraid of the dark myself so I also tend not to move around much in the dark.
Well at least try the dim light again and try to have no where they can roost outside the coop(if in a pen). My Wife's son could never get his Black Jersey Giants to roost in the coop---even after 2 years. I got some of the same hatch from the feed store the same day and mine have always roosted in the coop after a couple/3 days??? I never allow mine from the beginning to roost outside the coop. If they are allowed to do it some----its harder to break them for sure.
 

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Well at least try the dim light again and try to have no where they can roost outside the coop(if in a pen). My Wife's son could never get his Black Jersey Giants to roost in the coop---even after 2 years. I got some of the same hatch from the feed store the same day and mine have always roosted in the coop after a couple/3 days??? I never allow mine from the beginning to roost outside the coop. If they are allowed to do it some----its harder to break them for sure.
They haven't been roosting outside of the coop, they've learned to roost inside of it because we set them on it a few times. We can try the light again if putting them in after dark doesn't do it. We'll try that first tonight. They're still babies, just 11 weeks old.
 
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OK, just to update everyone and thank you all for your advice, apparently all we had to do now that all of them can hop up into the coop was to let them do it on their own. They put themselves to bed tonight, we didn't have to go out in the dark to put them in. Whew! No more chasing the skittish one. We won't worry during storms either then, we'll let them find their own shelter--unless it's going to get to almost hurricane winds here, which occasionally it can.

This is a wonderful group, I appreciate you all! Many blessings! :)
 
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