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do they need to be locked inside at night?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by suburban, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. suburban

    suburban In the Brooder

    Dec 13, 2010
    Perth, western Australia
    I have 2 newish Australorps. They have a coop like the "Dutch coop" on the photos page. It has a little enclosed area with 2 nesting boxes and a little space where we have put a roost.
    It has a ramp up to this section with a little doorway. Then they have an area about twice that size which is caged in. They also have a much bigger run area for during the day.

    We normally put them in the little house area at night with the door closed. Getting them in there involves a little bit of chasing around trying to catch them. My 7 year old son is very good at this.

    So to my question. We are going away for 4 days at christmas and have a friend coming by to look after them. Can we leave the door to the house open at night and just leave it up to them if they want to go in? We can put something across the run so they are contained in the little coop area. I think the whole thing is safe and secure and don't think anything could get in to them. We live in a suburban area with a few cats around.

    That was a bit long winded thanks for reading if you got this far!

  2. I am building a coop for a lady tomorrow because a predator managed into the run and then into the hen house because it (the hen house) was open. This is not to scare you into your decision but to inform you that "IF" there is a way into the run leaving the house open allows for easy access. It is best to 1) have a 100% secure run and coop or 2) close the coop up at night.

    Hope this helps.
  3. abhaya

    abhaya Songster

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    The reason to shut them in at thight is for predators if your run is predator proof they should be ok.
  4. Mattemma

    Mattemma Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    I think you need to lock them up at night. Game cams are eye opening showing all the preds that come out at night.

    Lol,my 8yo son is also very good at chasing/catching the hens.

    Daytime dogs and hawks are an issue too so I hope your friend will keep an eye on them. Being so cold I only let my hens out long enough that I can feed,water,collect eggs,and clean. They hate it but eventually they will get outdoor time. I have never seen coons,but I came across a print at my driveway so I know they are around.

    Better safe than sorry.Wishing you a safe and enjoyable holiday trip!


  5. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    If the run is made of chicken wire and uncovered, they need to be locked in. If the run is made of hardware cloth with a skirt, and covered they will probably be O.K. Be assured that you have more predators than the occasional cat. They are stealthy and have adapted to urban living. That's how they survive.
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    You do what you have to do. If your run is a strong wire (not chicken wire) and it's covered with wire (not chicken wire) or roofed, the odds are certainly in your favor that nothing will go wrong. It helps that you have someone stopping by every day to check on them.
    But if your run is chicken wire and/or open on top, then I'd try REALLY hard to find someone to shut them in at night and let them out of the day... With only two I'd guess that they're pet-like, and it would be hard if something went wrong predator-wise.
  7. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Always lock your birds in at night. A coop can be made predator proof, but a run cannot. There is always going to be a way it can be breached, and predators have about 14 hours of complete darkness to work on it at this time of year. With your family being out of town for the holiday, there is going to be even more opportunity to try to get in. To save you and your family a lot of heart ache lock the birds up securely. Raccoons are everywhere, are very clever, are very persistent, and are very interested in a free chicken dinner. I'd hate to see your family come home after a nice holiday visit to a blood bath.

    Good luck. And happy and safe holiday for all.

  8. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    I stopped shutting them up at night when it started getting cold. I've seen coons in my trees, right over the coop, eating nuts. I don't think they know the appeal of chicken. But I don't want them getting any ideas either. The whole sides of my coop is rabbit wire, heavy duty staples every 2 inches securing it. On top is 2x4 welded wire fencing. The rabbit wire is secured to the door on the coop so that there isn't even a space they could attempt to pry. Around the perimeter is stone and rock, they can dig if they want, but the rocks will fall into the holes if they get started. My sweet dogs tested it out for me. [​IMG] I used a 1x10 as the base board, dug into the ground. It would take a pretty big dog a lot of time to dig in. So the coons won't be able to.

    But coons are stronger than people give them credit for, being able to spread chicken wire into larger openings relatively easy. Welded wire that isn't stretchable is definitely the way to go. I have one low window, that is also rabbit wire sandwiched between boards. (and the higher ones too, just in case)

    We have coons, cats, coyote (urban ones!), opossums, hawks (resident redtail and Falcons plus whatever migrates through), crows (can get predatory if they have to) and I think that's about it. Completely urban setting, not even suburban. Lot's of patches of woods and train tracks as access.

    There was a deer that had been hit, landed right on a bus stop. Weirdest thing. But it must have been trying to cross the small river when it was too high and opted for the road.
  9. vfem

    vfem Yoga...The Chicken Pose

    Aug 4, 2008
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    I shut mine in for about 2 weeks... then they knew the routine and I didn't have to anymore. [​IMG]
  10. Kansaseq

    Kansaseq Prairie Wolf Farm Asylum

    Feb 12, 2009
    NE Kansas
    I would lock them in. 4 days is not that long, especially with it being so cold. Better safe than sorry.

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