Don’t immediately worry if your chicken doesn’t come back to the coop one night.
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Last night, a chicken named Panther didn’t come back to the coop. Maybe she was scared of the neighbors’ fireworks, which were being set off right next to the coop. Or else she got eaten by an owl. We searched all over and couldn’t find her–there are a lot of places that chickens can hide in. All the others were in the coop asleep. It was dark outside, so it was hard to look for her. Eventually, after a lot of worrying, we locked the coop and decided that Panther had either been eaten by a predator or was hiding somewhere.
The chicken could be hiding somewhere.
The next morning, she still hadn’t come back. She didn’t even show up for the chickens’ favorite treat, which is scratch. There were no feathers anywhere, or signs that a chicken had gotten eaten.
Then we looked at the chickens eating scratch next to the coop, and Panther was eating scratch with them. She looked perfectly fine. She was covered in dirt, though, which makes me think that she was either in the chickens’ favorite dust bath all night, or else hiding somewhere dirty. Sometimes, chickens decide not to go back to the coop for no apparent reason.
Chickens can decide not to come back to the coop for no apparent reason.
Or sometimes, chickens go broody and hide their nest somewhere where you can’t find it. When they do that, you can only hope that a predator can’t find the nest either. The nest can be so well-hidden that you don’t find it until you step on it. When that happens, the smell of broken rotting eggs can be enough to keep you from going by the nest. The hens don’t seem to mind.
If you can’t find your chicken, the bird may be broody.
If the chicken can’t get back to the coop for some reason, it may roost in a tree. Or else, the bird might have gotten trapped somewhere, like a storage shed. Then, when you open the door to the building, the chicken will come running out. One time a pullet got trapped under a cardboard box in her pen. Anything can happen. So if your bird goes missing, and you can’t find any feathers, don’t worry. Your chicken will probably come back within the next few days.
Panther, the chicken who came back.