Parasites may make flock reluctant to return home
Q For the past three nights I have had real problems trying to get my flock into their coop at night — they simply refuse to go in. I have to pick up each hen and put her inside the coop, shutting the door so that she can’t escape before catching the next one. I have had the same flock for a year now and they always used to go to roost without any intervention from me. I haven’t changed anything inside the coop so why have they all suddenly changed their behaviour? A Julie Moore says: As your whole flock refuses to go into the coop at night, it may be possible that they have been visited by a predator and are therefore anxious about spending time locked inside. Check all openings to ensure that your coop and run are both predator proof. Another explanation is that the coop is infested with parasites, for example red mites, which live in cracks in the coop, typically under perch ends during the day and come out at night to feed on your birds. Red mites are active in coops during the warmer weather, typically May to October, and are dormant during the winter months. Take a piece of white kitchen roll and rub it along the underside of the perches when your hens are roosting. If the tissue has streaks of red blood, it is the red mite heading back from their feed. In this scenario, thoroughly clean and disinfect the coop, disposing of bedding either in a bin bag or burning it. Treat the coop and your birds with an appropriate red mite powder.
If you have red mite in the coop, it will need thoroughly disinfecting