Help please. Odd problem with Orpingtons.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Last October I took delivery of 35 Buff Orpington chicks; my favorite breed – 2 roosters and 33 hens. Today they are beautiful full-grown birds! I have one odd problem with them though and wondered if anyone on DG has had this happen to them.

None of the Orpingtons use the roosts at all, and the hens, which have just began laying, are not using the nesting boxes. Does anyone have a clue why????

Here are a couple pics of the new coop my DH built for my new flock. The roost goes all the way around on 3 sides of the room, and they have plenty of nesting boxes.

Thumbnail by Glenda_Michigan Thumbnail by Glenda_Michigan
Richmond, TX

A few questions: How long have they been housed in the new coop? Where DO they roost/lay? Their accommodations look luxurious to me (I won't show my hens, they would go on strike for equal treatment!). Have you tried putting fake eggs in the nest boxes to give them a hint?
I see the temperature is 40 in the second picture; do they just want to stay under the lights, perhaps? One other thought: sometimes chipboard has a fairly strong formaldehyde like smell. Do they find it offensive?

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

My Brahmas wouldn't use the roosts for a while afterthey got put into the "big girl" coop. As they got older one started to roost and then most of them followed suit. I still have one hen who won't use the roost. She wants to sleep in a nesting box. She's five years old so what are you gonna do? I think they do what they are used to doing until one of them gets the bright idea of doing something else. And then they all want to do it.

I know I would use your nesting boxes if I layed eggs. They look pretty good to me! LOL! DH did a nice job.

How do you like the flooring? I've seen that in supply catalogs and have wondered how well it works. Seems like it would be easy to clean.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

All my chickens sleep on the floor, and wander all over the coop so I don't think they're cold; they don't huddle together under the lights. They don't act like the particle board is bothering them; it's the same material that the boxes are made of in my small coop and my old hens used the boxes right from the git-go. Just this week my hens have started laying eggs, all of which have been laid on the floor, so yesterday I put a few of the eggs up in the nesting boxes and sat a few hens up inside the nesting boxes to take a look. I'm hoping they figure it out soon because I don't want to have to climb inside to collect eggs every day. I need one of those extending golf ball retriever tools to reach inside and scoop them up off of the floor!! LOL ;)
Each nesting box has its own door for easy egg access.....once I get the hens to use them! :)

Thanks for the coop compliments; I'll pass them along to my DH. He does nice work and accommodates my every wish. He spoils me rotten ---- I love that in a man! ;) lol The floor is poultry flooring from Farm Tek, and I just LOVE IT! Both of my coops are elevated so that the floor inside the coop is 3-4 feet above the ground, with its perimeter skirted/enclosed to keep animals from going under it. The poultry flooring allows their droppings to dry very quickly (keeping the smell dramatically minimal) and they fall through the floor to the ground below. From there, access doors can be opened to easily pull the dried dropping out and used them in the garden. My DH built everything in my coop for my comfort, easy, and low maintenance. It's just a larger version of my first, small coop he built for me.

I put the poultry flooring in my small coop years ago and loved it so much it was a "must have" for my new coop. It is E-A-S-Y to install, cuts like a dream with a hack saw, and doesn't rot or rust. All it needs is floor supports every so many feet. IMO.....it's worth the cost and is a one-time purchase. I love having virtually no, or very little, smell in my coop, and I would think the chickens are happier too with a higher air quality too.

Here's the link where I ordered the poultry flooring, if anyone is interested in checking it out. I give this flooring a "10+": http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=15052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=FarmTek&productId=20251

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

Are the roosts too close to the wall? Do they have room to get up there and turn around? They may figure it out when they feel the need.. They may feel safe on the floor. Just a thought.

Long time no see everyone!

Richmond, TX

ZZ, welcome back! I've been missing the old crowd.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Hey ZZ!! It's good to hear from you!! Yes, they have enough room to turn around on the roost. We built it the same dimensions as my old, smaller coop, and the chickens in there do just fine. :) .....I think they're just happy on the floor, but it would sure make things easier on me if they'd lay the eggs in the nesting boxes where I could collect them from the outside of the coop. :- /

Hope all is well ZZ!! :)

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Buff Opr's are my favorite chicken as well. We got our chicks in 2009 and if I remember correctly it took them a little longer than thought it should for them to get up on the roosts - but they finally figured it out. Also, our chickens prefer the roosts (square boards with rounded edges) that are wider, and they will even roost on the 2 ft x 1 ft piece of plywood that is nailed to the roost (I put it there to keep them from getting droppings in the hay where they nest underneath the roost). Even though we gave them nesting boxes, they never used them so we just let them pick where they wanted to lay -they chose a couple spots in the hay on the floor of the coop. All of them lay their eggs in the same two nests. The coop is built up off the ground though so it is easy for me to clean out and easy to reach the eggs.) I have also noticed that they seem to feel more secure if they are in close quarters (maybe they sleep right next to each other to stay warm.)

(Nadine) Devers, TX(Zone 9b)

I have Orpingtons as well. When I built my new hoophouse few years ago, the girls were lost trying to figure things out..lol..Took them few weeks from floor egg laying up to the nest boxes which is approx. 18 inches off the floor. Some of my hens are 3 hens deep in the nest box trying to lay their eggs together..lol..

Richmond, TX

Orpingtons are very sweet, but like a lot on really gentle animals, I don't think they are Mensa candidates.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Porkpal, I picked up on that real quick! LOL ....I put a few eggs in each nesting box and every day I would grab a few hens and set them inside a nesting box.....hoping they'd get the idea. Well, it's starting to catch on. Yesterday a few of the boxes had more eggs in them than I had left in them, so maybe this is working!!! Cross your fingers for me!! :-)

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We have the same problems with our Gold Star layers.
New chicks, 4˝ months old won't roost either. They are Buff Orpington's, Black Australorp's, Silver Laced Wyandotte's & Americana's.
No wonder the large chicken farms put them in cages!

Should add, they won't venture outside either.

This message was edited Apr 14, 2013 7:53 AM

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Are you kidding me? They won't go outside? Watch....mine probably won't go out either. Porkpal's right; they'll never have a membership to Mensa. lol

Richmond, TX

-But they're so sweet...

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Not very nice weather this spring, cold, cold colder!

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL, my Brahmas wouldn't go outside at first either. Then they wouldn't go in. Bird brains =~? It was funny for us because we only had a few, but I can imagine how frustrating it must be when one has many pullets to take care of and only so much time.

Northeast, PA(Zone 6b)

I got a couple of bantum hens (breed is "jap" which just doesn't feel right to say) a couple years ago.
They are so much smarter than the large breeds. Too smart! I've had three batches of unexpected
chicks in the last 9mo! They hide their eggs so I won't "steel" them and each time, I've finally found
the hen when she has successfully hatched the chicks.

So smarter isn't always better in chickens. lol

Cool coop!
Tam

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Yep, we have some bantams (Seabrights, I think) that are too smart for their own good. Cute little buggers though! Hard to keep'em in the fence since they can squeeze through small spaces/holes.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Wow, maybe dumber is better! ;) LOL ....Well, yesterday I found one of my hens sitting on the roost, and now I have a least a couple hens using the nesting boxes!! :-D So I hope the rest catch on quickly.

I have also started letting them outside, but yesterday they all took turns standing in the door way with their heads out looking around, but no one came OUT of the coop. Dopey birds.... Probably the one hen sitting on the roost is the same hen using the nesting box, which means I only have one bright one in the whole bunch of 34 birds. :-[

Also, I have been working with my 2 roosters using the info in Haystack's story about dealing with mean roosters. So far it works like a dream. I hold them under my arm, gently put their heads down, and they will stay there with their heads down. Now I'm having my grandchildren do the same, hoping to train the roosters not to attack any humans. :)

Northeast, PA(Zone 6b)

Oh funny story - we are having some work done on the house and the guy working on the AC unit mentioned to me that there were eggs behind the condenser outside. Sure enough - a communal nest with 14 eggs! And they were not all bantum eggs. Apparently even the larger gal's were hoping we wouldn't find their eggs.

Another funny little tale - I have a red sex link hen that lays the largest eggs I've ever seen. They weigh at least 4oz and often up to 4.6-4.8oz. I keep finding one of the tiny little bantums sitting on one of her giant eggs. I can't imagine how she would manage if there were even two - no way she could keep more than one warm under her!

Tam

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Yeah, when those bantams get broody, no much will stop them from staying on the job!

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

I wonder WHY bantams are so broody, compared to full size chickens??

Richmond, TX

I think many breeds of standard chickens have been selectively developed to eliminate broody behavior and maximize egg production while the bantams are just displaying normal chicken instincts.

Northeast, PA(Zone 6b)

I agree completely.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Ahhhh.... Gotcha.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

The saga of the stupid Buff Orpintons continues.....but with a happy report!

For the FIRST time, ALL of my chickens put themselves back inside the coop at sunset yesterday evening!!! This is MAJOR progress as I would go out to the coop and find 6-8 of my girls preparing to spend the night outside, while everyone else had gone in......like “regular” chickens. I'd have to pick them up, set them at the bottom of the ramp, and make them walk up it and inside the coop. Stupid birds. ….Well, finally, they all went in by themselves and all I had to do was close and lock the door!!! I did the “happy chicken dance” last night to celebrate!

…..It's the little things in life that can make your day. ;-)

Northeast, PA(Zone 6b)

Wonderful!

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Cool!

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

We rejoice with you!

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

UGH.......... NEW PROBLEM!

I have 28 hens and 1 sweet rooster. They have all the water and food they want and they free range on acreage, here on our farm. Everyone looks happy and healthy, and act normal......except for one issue.

With 29 hens, I'm getting 6 or 7 eggs a day. Does anyone have any ideas WHY only 6 or 7 eggs a day????????

Richmond, TX

Is it possible that they are laying somewhere that you haven't looked? I remodeled part of the barn around my coops last year and the hens went on strike. I was only finding about 1/4 the usual number of eggs. I still don't know whether they quit laying for a while or were just hiding the eggs as they also free range during the day. Could yours be rejecting the nest boxes as they did the roosts?

Northeast, PA(Zone 6b)

We found 71 eggs above our tack room and another 32 in the overhang a few weeks ago. Oh - there were also 25 or so next to the AC compressor. Mine hide their eggs and its just so frustrating when I find the stash! I

The other possibility is that they aren't getting enough protein. I found that some sun flower seeds really can help get them going again.

Tam

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