Ok, I've been keeping chickens all my 68 years. I've mostly kept old school breeds, Barred Rocks are my favorites; hardy, smart, good layers, yadda yadda. Never had any real issue outside of the usual. I'm on my umpteenth flock, both bought and bred. One thing I've come to realize, and most of you have experienced the same, is that every flock has its own personality. This current flock is store-bought (Mt. Healthy) and they've been great so far, even got a rooster for free (bought all hens.)
My only problem...they won't leave the coop. Granted, it's a pretty nice coop. I built it for a flock of 24-36 birds, so it's nice and airy, clean, plenty of space for my downsized flock of 10 gals and one decidely low key dude (he's still young.) I have cut down the 'yard' by two-thirds, from the almost 2,000 ft2 fenced in area to about 700 ft2. It's fenced in like Stalag 17 (no search lights but several predator red-eye lights,) with hawk string overhead; safe as can be. The dogs don't go anywhere near the compound, they had all the electric fence Pavlovian conditioning they could take a few years ago. It's freshly mowed and ready for any self-respecting hen to get to some serious scratching. I've never had a flock that wouldn't jump at the chance to get out of the house and start getting in touch with their inner dinosaur. Not this crew. I've put scratch grain on the runway, I've shooed them out of the coop with a broom, they go out and come right back in.
This is very strange and unexpected behavior, out of character for such a stout breed, to be sure. I'm going to try to simply put their gravity feeder and nipple waterer out in the yard, see if that does it. Otherwise, has anyone else had this experience, and if so, what did you do to solve it? They're just at 15 weeks old. I'm hoping they outgrow it but they've been out of the brooder and in the "big house" for a few weeks now.
And the remaing 'old' yard, 20 years of chicken tractoring, alternating with cover of Austrian Winter Pea cover, is being converted to two fruit trees and some Victory Garden-type expansion; cabbage, beans, roots, etc. I have a feeling I'm going to need it here right soon.