Do I need to lock my chickens up in the coop?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FDaniels, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. FDaniels

    FDaniels Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2013
    Oneonta, AL
    We will be getting 5 girl sex links soon & we're working on building the coop. But one question I have is should we lock them up in the coop at night/whenever we're gone?

    They're not going to be free range as far as being able to run around our yard but their coop will be attached to a huge run of probably about 30'x30' (still playing around with the actual size). I've been doing some reading on predator proofing so here is what the run/coop will have:
    *enclosed top w/ hardware cloth
    *sturdy run door w/ concrete poured into a trench below the bottom of the door frame (or pavers if we're not able to afford the concrete & if we go the paver route we will run a hardware cloth apron off the pavers)
    *the rest of the run will have hardware cloth buried at least 1 foot in the ground & a hardware cloth apron stretching outward of about 1 to 2 feet
    *All doors will have predator proof latches but I still can't figure out what the best latches to get are
    *the coop will be elevated off the ground & the entire underfloor will be covered with hardware cloth
    *the coop will be inside the run for extra protection*
    *we've thought about covering the run halfway up with pet window screen (run height will be 6' so the screen would go 3' up & will go over the hardware cloth) to block outside view of them so predators can't see them. Is this a good idea or would the chickens hate it?

    Is there anything we're not thinking of as far as predator proofing? But back to my original question about locking them in the coop:

    Since they would have this big run to be in all the time, is it safe for them to have 24/7 access to the run or should we still lock them up in the coop at night/whenever we're gone even though the coop is inside an enclosed run? We work 8 hour shifts so I would hate to have to lock them up at night and for an additional several hours while we're at work. They should be safe in the pen without being locked up in the coop at certain times shouldn't they?

    Thanks guys!!
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2013
    Hardware cloth's not impermeable to predators. I'd double it with metal mesh to be certain. If the outside of the coop and run is secure enough you shouldn't have to worry about locking them in overnight. Really, if a predator is determined even fort knox style coops don't stand much chance, there always seems to be a way. But sounds like yours would have a good chance. I've heard some pretty complex designs for keeping pythons out of coops where the doors are never locked overnight, but have yet to hear anyone who succeeded 100% of the time. You can but try. ;P
  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    Sounds like your setup is pretty secure so shutting them up in the coop every night is probably unnecessary but certianly won't hurt.
    Far as the pet window screen goes, the bottom 4 ft of my most secure pens walls are 4x14 metal roofing panels. Figured if preds can't see my chickens that might add a little safety, why advertise the chickens to the preds. It don't bother my chickens to not see out of the pen. It actually keeps them more calm because they don't pace the fence trying to get out or fighting my free range chickens through the fence, and they don't get alarmed when other animals or people are moving around outside the pen.
  4. sbhkma

    sbhkma Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a similar setup, but I added one extra precaution: a solar fence charger and electric fence about 4 inches off the ground on insulators that stick out 3 inches from the sides. Twice now it has stopped a skunk from trying to find a way in (NOT fun, but at least the skunk gets hit while facing the coop/fence so the coop itself doesn't get sprayed)
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    If you have a secure run, there's no need to lock them in the coop. I don't even have a door for mine, just an opening in the wall of the coop, so the birds can come and go as they please. I figure they're smart enough to come in when it's dark, or too rainy, etc. If they chose to stay outside, that's their business. I've never lost a bird to being wet.
  6. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills
    My coop has a solidly-built* hardware-cloth run with a concrete block apron so I never close the pop door except when I want to re-bed the run.


    It wouldn't be proof against bear, but nothing is.

    Short of bears, I don't see what could get in.

    *My DH is incapable of using a 1x2 where a 2x4 could go. I call the think Fort Clux.
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Oh, mine too! Everything is built to weigh an everlovin' ton. I love the thought of a tractor, but I know if he built one, I'd literally need the tractor to move it!
  8. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills
    That is exactly why I don't have a tractor. Ft. Clux takes 4 people to move it with the run detached.
  9. TheEggCollecter

    TheEggCollecter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2014
    If there is one thing I have learned from my years of keeping chickens it is better to be safe then sorry. I would lock your hens upnat night no matter what. Predators will keep coming to your coop until they find a way in.
  10. crazyhen

    crazyhen Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    Lock them up tight. The animals here are out again. Tonight I saw a healthy fox and heard two raccoons chattering near the coop. My poop door is closed for the night.

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