Moving Chickens

Those of you who have ever relocated chickens know they don’t always cooperate.  My favorite was the time we moved the coop maybe twenty yards to fresh pasture and that night I went out to find the chickens huddled inside the brown square left in grass where the coop used to be, even though that very same coop – the one they’d been sleeping in for months – was in full view.

Right now we’re trying to integrate the pullets with the older layers.  I was gonna just lug’em all over this morning but last evening right after we turned out the lights my wife suggested that I try moving them at night, when they’re drowsy.  So I got dressed and spent the next hour taking them Noah-style (two-by-two, yep) from the smaller coop to the larger coop.  An surprisingly peaceful operation.  A few clucks and worried peeps and one or two brief explosions when a chicken failed to fully grasp the roost, but by 11:20 p.m. I was back in bed.

The three-year-old woke me up sometime around 2-3 p.m.

This morning I turned everyone out together.  At last check six of the pullets managed to push their way through the poultry fence, but they’re hanging around and most are staying inside (we’re not using standard chicken wire…photo here).  I spent five minutes running around trying to catch and return them, then realized what a waste of time that was.  Instead, I opened the door to their former coop.  If they don’t go back in with the others at dusk, I’ll find them in the other coop.  In the meantime, we’ll feed them good so they get too big to fit through the fence.

Late Update, One Day Later: Ultimately, about 15-20 of the pullets escaped and went back to their old coop.  The rest bunched themselves into the corner of the fence nearest their old coop and wouldn’t go in the new coop.  So last night I repeated the raid under cover of darkness.  This morning it’s raining like mad so I just left everyone in the new coop with lots of feed and water, perhaps they can have a social mixer and get used to the idea of new digs.  That, or peck each other to bits.

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