Access to outdoor pen 24/7 ?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GroovyGallus, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. GroovyGallus

    GroovyGallus In the Brooder

    Mar 28, 2009
    Genesee, ID
    Right now we have a hen house (5x6) attached to a (soon to be covered) pen (7x20) and i would like to leave the door open so that the flock has access to the outdoors as soon as the sun comes up and get to stay out until the sun goes down. Right now i don't always get out there early in the morning and sometimes close them in early if i am going to be out long after dark. Since the roof isn't on i want to avoid predator attacks at night. We are putting the roof on this weekend (chickenwire) and i was hoping to be able to let them have free access. I am a first time chicken caretaker. So, i was wondering what the rest of you do. How many of you let your flock have free access to an outdoor pen? Is the pen covered? Predator problems? weather problems?

  2. rooster0209

    rooster0209 Songster

    Apr 7, 2008
    North Dakota
    I open the coop early in the am (around 7:30) and close it after dark around 9pm.

    They have free run of the farm all day long.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Many people do leave the door to the run open all the time and many others lock them in the coop at night. It is a case of your risk adversion. It is harder to predator-proof a run than a coop, but it is your personal desicion.

    Raccoons, coyotes, foxes, dogs, and other predators can tear right through chicken wire. Chicken wire will stop a chicken but not much else. Raccoons and possums can climb. Your run is not nearly as secure as you think if you cover it with chicken wire instead of hardware cloth or 2" x 4" welded wire. There is a reaason the other is more expensive.

    The only weather problems I can envision is if it is cold or stormy and you get drafts from leaving the door open or if rain blows in. Leaving the door open might be a seasonal thing.

    editted to add: You might consider an automatic door opener
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  4. Chickenwire is not going to keep predators out, though- it's meant for separating chickens in indoor pens only. You need hardware cloth with openings no greater than 1/2"...
  5. thedeacon

    thedeacon Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    I leave mine open 24/7/365. But then again I do have a dog to keep predators away
  6. christmaschicken

    christmaschicken Songster

    Jul 3, 2008
    Christmas, Florida
    I open my coup around 6:45 when I leave let them free range all day, than at dark they all go in to roost. I shut them in and lock it up for the night.

    I used chicken wire UNDERNEATH another wire around the outside plus they have panel around that, but the roof on mine is metal. I know that way nothing other than a snake every so often, is getting in. It is not fancy but I know they are safe at night.

    You might want to read my last post though... one of my Hens did not come home Wednesday when the rest of my flock came home... she is still missing [​IMG]

    I will be honest I am really thinking about just building a huge run so i know they are safe during the day now as well. It is very upsetting not knowing why she did not come home and wondering what has happened to my girl....just food for thought.
  7. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    I leave mine open to the pen 24/7, however my pen is predator proof (steel roof over pen area). This provides shade during hot sunny days, and keeps the rain off to allow the pen area to stay dry.

    I meerly open the pen door to allow the flock to free range and close it at dark.

    ~ bigzio

  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Sorry, but that is pretty risky. Even with what "should" be a good predatorproof run, predators will sometimes find a way in; chickenwire top on the run won't keep much of anything out except owls.

    The thing is, not only is it distressing to have yer chickens eaten, once the predators know there is a good meal to be had there (and not only will the one(s) that actually ate the meal know, so will anything else that caught the lingering scent) it becomes MUCH harder to keep them out in the future.

    It is kind of risky to leave the popdoor open to the run even when you have a fort-knox style run; with your setup, I wouldn't even consider it, although of course if you are okay with having to replace chickens and increased predator problems in the future you might decide to give it a whirl.

    Good luck,


    NYREDS Crowing

    Jan 14, 2008
    Be sure about the security of your run if you don't close them in at night. Lots of chicken hungry predators are night hunters.
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    I would only do it if the entire run was constructed with 1/2" hardware cloth and there was some type of anti-digging measure taken, when constructing the run. If you have any trained guardian dogs, then you might get by with less security.

    What are the run walls constructed of?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by