Close up for the night?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Heckel's Hens, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. Heckel's Hens

    Heckel's Hens Songster

    Jan 23, 2011
    Southern VA
    Being a newbie, I am out of my mind with worry about when the chicks go to the outdoor coop. So far my understanding is to use hardware cloth, 12 inches or more dug into the ground, and cover the coop, too, for hawks.

    Are you supposed to put the chickens in for the night? If you do that....and "lock it up", so to speak, is there still risk of predators?

    How common is it to nightly round up your chickens and put them inside? Is that unrealistic?

    Thanks for any and all advice!!

  2. slightlyscrambled

    slightlyscrambled Songster

    Mar 30, 2009
    Generally after a few days of rounding them up and putting them in the coop they will get the idea and do it themselves. Then all you have to do is shut up the coop. Good luck!
  3. Stonerowfarm

    Stonerowfarm Songster

    Sep 16, 2008
    Cheshire, MA
    It sounds like you are describing an outdoor run. Do you have a coop? If so, the birds will put themselves to bed once it starts getting dusk. They don't see at night so they usually will settle in pretty quickly. You need to make sure that your coop is secure top, bottom and sides and that nothing can get into it. Raccoons are very smart and have the dexterity of a two year old. Weasels are small and can fit through a tiny opening. Possums are slow but opportunistic. And the list goes on and on......
  4. Heckel's Hens

    Heckel's Hens Songster

    Jan 23, 2011
    Southern VA
    This is incredibly naive....but....they attack INSIDE the coop??

    Please tell me no. [​IMG]
  5. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    After a few days the birds will go inside the coop by themselves... then all you have to do is lock them up for the night.
    Yes, i ALWAYS lock mine up at pretty much have to. Unless you have a super duper 100% predator safe run?...
    And yes, LOTS of things attack at night and they WILL go into your coop... I lost many birds one night at dusk... cause a weasel or mink killed them at dusk/roost time INSIDE their coop, before i got out there to lock them up for the night.. [​IMG]
  6. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    When we moved our chicks from the inside brooder to the oustide coop we hadn't quite finished the run yet. So all they had was the coop itself and they were shut in it unless we opened the people door and took them out for outside play time. It was a few weeks before we finally finished putting up the fencing on the run, so by then they were very used to sleeping in the coop. I've never had to round them up at night, since we got the run fence up they've always put themselves to bed at dusk. If you keep them locked in the coop for a week or so when you first put them out they should get used to that as being "home roost" and you shouldn't have to worry about them not coming back to roost at night (of course you should check the first few weeks to make sure they remembered).

    Unless your run is 100% predator proof (I've seen one or two that were, but most runs still have weaknesses that night time predators will take advantage of where daytime predators might not have the luxury of working their way in) you do need to shut the coop up every night. I will admit that I'm really bad about doing it on time, in the winter it's almost always completely dark by the time I go out. But my coop and run are in a fenced backyard in a city and I have two large dogs that get let out frequently during the day so my predator risk is a little lower than say someone who lives in a rural or semi-rural area. That's not to say that I have no risk, I've known other chicken owners in town only a few blocks away who have lost birds to raccoons or opossums.

    And yes, predators will attack inside the coop at any time of the day or night if they get a chance. They're just looking for food to survive, and if chicken is on the menu they don't care whether they are free ranging or in the coop.
  7. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Heckel's Hens :

    This is incredibly naive....but....they attack INSIDE the coop??

    Please tell me no. [​IMG]

    I won't tell you "no" because it depends on how secure your coop is. Most predators will try to get at sleeping birds if there is a way for them to, be the birds in a coop or roosting in a tree. I suggest locking your chickens in the most secure coop as possible--having roosts in there for them will give them incentive for going in at night--making sure all doors are secured with child-proof latches--turn latches or slide bolts are child's play for coons--and all windows and any holes are covered with heavy galvanize, 1/4-inch hardware cloth. If you leave chickens out you're just creating a feeding station for whatever finds a chicken dinner appetizing--which is pretty much any large animal. Once they find this, they won't leave until the birds are gone.​

  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Mine are locked into their predator resistant coops nightly. Unless something chews through a wooden pop door or a bear takes my coop apart, nothing is getting in there, not even a mouse. The birds are behind locked doors before dusk every day.
  9. ginormous chicken

    ginormous chicken Songster

    Jan 18, 2011
    Elverta, California
    I or my DH locks our chickens in every night. They go up and in on their own. It took them a while to figure that could go up and roost. My chickens naturally came back close to dark but going up stair was a little bit more difficult, but they got it. Yes, predators can get in. ( A lot of it depends on coop design an fortifcations.) Once the predators figure out there are chickens. You gotta catch the predators; they will keep trying. You kinda get use to walking out every morning to let them out and locking them up every night. It does take work, but that is my time to check on the chickens and say hi to everyone.
  10. kathydoolittle

    kathydoolittle Songster

    Dec 14, 2009
    Pittsburg KS

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