Having a safe, secure coop for your flock to rest in at night is essential for raising chickens, whether you’re keeping them for eggs, meat, or even just as pets!
However, knowing the logistics of exactly what time and how to get them in the coop is often a bit tricky, especially for newbie chicken keepers.
Chickens are diurnal, so they sleep at night and are active during the day. They’re also very early risers. Generally, your chickens should be in their coop by sunset each night. Once the sun rises, it is safe to release them from the coop to their full run in the morning.
Read on to learn all about your chickens’ ideal sleep schedule, how to get them in the coop at the right time, how much time they need to get accustomed to their new digs before you let them free-range, and more!
What Time Should Chickens Go In The Coop At Night?
Aim to have your chickens in their coop around sunset, with your whole flock securely inside just before it gets completely dark.
There isn’t an exact time for this, as the time will vary slightly depending on where you live and the current season.
In general, chickens won’t stray far from where they know their food is.
However, even if you live in a more urban area, all manner of pesky predators tend to come out at night in hopes of feasting on your flock.
Additionally, your chickens need a safe place to go for shelter in the event of rain, snow, hail, and other inclement weather conditions.
This is why chicken owners need to ensure their chickens are in a sturdy, secure coop by nightfall every day.
This is not so much to keep the birds from running or flying away but to keep them safe and comfortable.
Like most birds, chickens are diurnal, so they are active and rest at night during the day.
They are creatures of habit, as they pretty consistently wake up very early and go to bed quite early, too.
Typically, most chickens will sleep for around 6 to 8 hours each night.
As you get to know your flock, you’ll know their preferred sleep schedules and habits.
Once they are familiar with their coop, know where it is, and understand it’s safe and how to get inside it, they will usually head inside to sleep right around when the sun sets, or anywhere from around 5 PM to 8 PM.
Because chickens go to sleep early, they typically wake up early, too, or around the time when the sun rises.
This time will vary depending on the season, from 5 AM to 7 AM.
When Do Chickens Go to Sleep?
Chickens are diurnal animals, and like most birds, they are especially early risers and sleepers.
Depending on where you live, and the season, they tend to go to sleep just after the sun sets, or around 5 PM to 8 PM.
Similarly, chickens typically wake up early when the sun rises, or around 5 AM to 7 AM.
Even though every bird has their unique personality, you’ve likely noticed your chickens as a group follow a fairly strict routine when it comes to when they go to sleep and when they wake up in the morning.
Since they don’t have clocks to follow as we do, chickens simply follow the sun to determine their bedtime.
Their circadian rhythm is closely aligned with the sun’s natural rising and setting pattern.
Most chickens sleep for around 6 to 8 hours per night.
Generally, your chickens should start seeking out their coop once the sun starts to go down each night, or sometime around 5 PM to 8 PM.
Most will go into their coops without any additional guiding or coaxing.
However, if you’re introducing new birds to your flock, you’ll likely need to lock them in the coop for a little while to get them more familiar with the space.
Some birds, especially new or very young chickens, will need to be carefully guided or placed into the coop the first few nights before they pick up on the routine and fit in with the flock.
Next, we’ll cover how to get new chickens accustomed to their coops below.
Fortunately, because they are so social and tend to stay in groups and stick to routines they find comfortable, it usually doesn’t take long for them to figure out exactly when and where they need to be when chicken bedtime rolls around every night.
Further reading: What time do chickens go to bed?
How Long To Keep Chickens In The Coop Before Letting Them Free Range
With any new chickens, you’ll need to lock them in your coop for at least a week or so to get them to settle into their new home.
This will give them time to get used to the coop and understand it’s a safe place to rest at night once you release them to your full run to free-range.
It might sound a bit cruel at first to lock your chickens up in a coop for days on end, but this is a key component of getting them to feel as safe and comfortable as possible in their new home.
If you’re introducing new birds to your existing flock, it’s best to quarantine them for at least two weeks in a separate area like a large dog kennel or another fenced-in cage area.
This will ensure they’re healthy and won’t spread anything like diseases or mites to your other chickens.
Once you’ve made sure the new chickens are healthy enough to be integrated into your flock, it’s time to move them to the main chicken coop!
From there, it’s a good idea to have a cage or isolated area inside the coop to physically separate the new birds from the already-established flock of chickens for the first few days.
Keeping the new chickens in the smaller cage in the coop will prevent any of the other birds from picking on them or stressing them out too much while they’re settling.
Next, feed and water the new birds inside the separated area, keep it clean and tidy and don’t let them free range for about a week.
Let the rest of your flock access and sleep in the non-isolated part of the coop as usual.
This will let your new chickens know where they’re supposed to be at night and where they should go for shelter.
After a week or so, it’s time to fully integrate the new chickens with your existing free-range chickens (if applicable) and let them come and go as they please.
Tips For Getting Your Chickens in the Coop
Some great tips to get your chickens to go into their coop at night include using their favorite snacks to “lure” them in, timing feedings around bedtime each night, and adding additional roosts inside the coop to accommodate them.
It is especially common for new chickens to need a bit of chasing or coaxing at first to know exactly when to go inside at night.
But in most cases, they will either follow your existing flock or already know the coop is the safest place to be (since you’ve ideally kept them in there for a week or so before letting them free range on their own).
However, if you’re still having some trouble, there are some great ways to offer them some extra encouragement.
Tip 1: Learn Your Birds’ Favorite Foods
Perhaps the most obvious way to get your chickens to go in the coop is–you guessed it–food!
More specifically, learn your chickens’ favorite foods, and offer them as snacks only when it’s time to go in the coop at night.
Chickens aren’t very fussy eaters, but they enjoy various sweet fruits, cooked pasta, and fresh veggies and greens.
Test out various foods until you find the ones your birds go crazy for!
When the sun starts to set, take some of those favorite foods to the coop to make a trail for them leading inside.
Over time, your chickens will associate their preferred snacks with going into the coop at night.
Additionally, it helps to schedule your flock’s dinner feeding time just before it’s time for everyone to head into the coop for bed or around an hour before dark.
Add in lots of variety to keep your chickens interested in the food and excited for whatever comes next!
Feeding them near or right in front of the coop will also encourage them to head inside after eating, as they’ll already be tired once bedtime rolls around–and even more so after eating a tasty meal.
Tip 2: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick
Simply picking up and placing the birds into the coop yourself always works if you’re desperate or having a particularly tough time.
Quietly sneaking up on them or scooting them into a corner will make snatching them easier.
Having a long walking stick to guide them into the coop also helps if they’re skittish and are still too shy to be handled directly.
They’ll realize they either have to go into the coop at dusk themselves or deal with you awkwardly chasing them in there!
Tip 3: Give Them More Space to Roost at Night
Finally, do some rearranging in the coop and add more roosts to give your new chickens space to rest without feeling cramped and squished up against other birds they aren’t familiar with just yet.
Even one additional roosting spot helps!
Moving things around in the coop, like nesting boxes, roosting bars, walls, etc., will also help create more space to accommodate the growing flock.
What’s more, having more room for your flock to rest and move around will help cut down on bullying and fighting amongst your birds.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?