In general, nature has taken care of teaching chickens how to behave. They instinctually know to leave the coop in the morning and come back to to roost.
But sometimes, they rebel. Our chickens briefly decided to roost on our patio furniture. That was because a squirrel was frequenting their coop, or, more specifically, their feeder. But we have been locking the coop behind them in the morning, much to said squirrel’s chagrin. At night, the chickens usually come to the back door and peer in the window to remind us they are ready for bed. Mamma likes!
Then, there are the times that we won’t be here at sundown, when the chickens are ready for bed. They could stay up late, but that is just when the predators are ready for a snack. So the only option is round ’em up.
It sounds easier than it is. As much as I’d like to say I just don my ten gallon hat and my Frye boots and “git her done,” that’s not how it usually goes.
They say if you step very slowly behind them, they’ll crouch down and spread their wings. As if they are preparing to mate. Well, instinct did not take care of that for our chickens (which is ok because they won’t need to know about any of that).
There is something that these chickens can not resist, like crack or heroin or even the next episode of 30 Rock on Netflix. It’s Honey Nut Cheerios. Actually, it’s really any cereal, but we happen to have two boxes and no one in the house will deign to eat them.
Sometimes, I’ll give the chickens a nice pile of Cheerios to distract them and then grab them. But when I last tried that, they got so excited they went for them while I was trying to throw them on the ground and bit my finger. My luscious, worm-like finger (if Cheerios are crack, worms are chicken meth).
Remember how small their little heads are? And how the brain is inside there, even smaller? Well, in my experience, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for smelling a trap. So we just put a little pile of the cheerios inside the coop and BLAMM-O they walk right in. And they don’t even care if you shut the door behind them. Of course, usually the alpha chicken goes first and it takes the others a few laps around the coop to get it, but they do.
Some people have a loop made of wire they say they can slip around the chicken’s legs and get them that way, and I have even heard of using a butterfly or fishing net, but I think that’s just someone trying to prank would-be chicken catchers. If you do that, take a picture next time and send it to me!