Door from coop to run open all the time or not?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tmhuntOH, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. tmhuntOH

    tmhuntOH Hatching

    Feb 17, 2015
    Hello, new here and researching to build my own coop as soon as the weather gets better. Design I'm working on has the 3x6 coop attached inside a 6x10 enclosure. My question is whether to door from the coop to the enclosed run should be open all the time or if it should be closed at night (keeping the chickens in the coop) and opened every morning? My proprrty borders a wooded park, so predators are a big concern. Also, is there a better material to build the coop with, to keep them warm over winter (currently negative right now, but rare to get negative double digits here)? Should I use some kind of insulating material or will they stay warm enough? Thanks so much!
  2. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Songster

    Mar 31, 2014
    Good morning & [​IMG]

    What breed of chickens do you have? Some are cold hardy, some are not. Some of the cold hardy breeds can also be greatly affected by the frozen world. I lost 5 or 6 chickens last year from cold & old age combination. If you have the right breeds for the cold, they will huddle up together and keep each other warm. I have a dilapidated lean to that was left on the property when we bought it. I have stapled some plastic feed bags on the inside where there was wind blowing in. You do have to consider ventilation also. Mine has about a 5" gap from the coop top to the roof.

    The question about the door, me personally, I would close it at night and open in the morning. It's nothing for a raccoon, opossum, mink or any other predator to sneak into the run. Last year the raccoons broke into a hole in the roof in our coop and within 2 days wiped out 10 of my good layers. If you have timing issues with opening/closing your coop door, they make automatic openers. I don't open the coop door until I get home from work in the afternoon-but my run is not enclosed.

    Hope this advice helps. Let us know if you have further questions. Enjoy your chickens[​IMG]!
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    The cost of COMPLETE predator proofing a run is unwarranted. Closing the coop door every night isn't that inconvenient and will virtually stop predation. As for chickens in winter all you need is adequate ventilation, no heat. The more ventilation the more your chickens will love you. Wintering chickens is not as difficult as people tend to make it to be. As they are many times pets the species lines get blurred. People think how they are uncomfortable in freezing weather so their chickens must be. It's simply not the case. Watch your bird feeder and remind yourself chickens are birds. Using a tarp to make wind breaks on the two or three prevailing wind sides of run is recommended and when the run gets iced over I put down a thin layer of hay for them to walk on. Hardest part of winter is keeping water from freezing.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Whether or not you should lock them up at night depends on your confidence in how predator proof your run is. How precious your chickens are to you and how much a loss would hurt factors in too for most people. A large run is more difficult to make actually predator proof than a smaller one the size you are talking about, but predators can be really good at climbing in, squeezing in, digging under, or pulling wire or even boards loose. Plenty of people build runs that they consider predator proof and leave the door open all the time. Others close that door every night. It’s a personal choice.

    We make coops out of all kinds of materials, especially when we repurpose a building or use what spare materials we have. Some materials like metal conduct heat really well, so they can heat up and cool off pretty easily. In extreme weather, heat or cold, that’s not good, but many are successful using metal. For me it’s hard to beat wood. It’s easy to work with and really strong if you get the attachments right. With practically anything we use, the strength is more in the attachments that the material itself. Wood does not conduct heat that well so is a natural insulator.

    Chickens wear a down coat and can handle cold temperatures really well, much like the songbirds you will likely see at your bird feeder today. A few years back someone I trust on this forum posted about some chickens that went feral in North Michigan and made it through the winter foraging for their own food, probably eating snow for water, and sleeping in trees. They were not laying an egg a day and I would not say they thrived, but they made it. They really can handle cold a lot better than people imagine. But one of the things they could do sleeping in trees was move to get out of a direct wind. Cold isn’t necessarily the enemy but wind is. When we keep them in a coop we restrict how they can move around to get out of a wind.

    The flip side to this is that they need good ventilation. They need to exchange good air for bad. It sounds contradictory but the way you accomplish this is that you build a coop that allows air exchange without a breeze blowing directly on them. To me, the easiest way to do that is to have some openings above their heads so any breeze goes over them, but there are other ways to accomplish this. Your concern is not keeping the coop warm, it’s keeping the wind off the chickens so they can keep themselves warm.

    Your chickens are probably going to be in more danger from heat in summer than cold in winter. Heat kills a lot more chickens than cold. In summer you not only need good ventilation overhead but good ventilation period. Openings at or below roost level are good in the summer.

    I consider these mandatory reading for anyone building a coop. The lady that wrote them was in Ontario so she should have credibility for cold weather.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    You might also want to follow the link in my signature for my thoughts on how much room chickens need. I don’t believe in magic numbers for much of anything to do with chickens, whether that is square feet per chicken, hen to rooster ratios, or much of anything else. We are all so unique that one magic number can’t be best for all of us. I do find that the more I crowd them the more behavioral problems I have to deal with, the harder I have to work, and the less flexibility I have to deal with things that come up. All these things either make my life harder or easier so I like to have extra room. Some people really enjoy working harder and having drama in their life. We are all unique too.

    Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
    1 person likes this.
  5. ksandvig

    ksandvig Chirping

    Sep 8, 2014
    Lake Stevens Wa
    My girls get locked in their coop every night & door is left open all day so they can go in & lay or just roost! I also have an LED spotlight I keep on 24/7 & it helps for predators I did habe moles digging but since the light nothing. I just have it pointing to the ground. [​IMG]
  6. RonP

    RonP Crowing

    Having secured your run as well as your coop against predators, is also priceless.

    I keep my coop door open 24/7, allowing my birds access to their secured run upon their discretion, not my schedule.
  7. Monguire

    Monguire Songster

    May 18, 2014
    Manassas, VA
    To thine own self be true. Knowing my slant towards laziness and sleeping in on cold any mornings, I opted to pay the "tax" for my sloth by purchasing automatic doors for my pop-holes. This really allows the freedom of knowing the chooks are always happy (to be let out early) and secure (closed-in from predators) at night without me having to adhere to a strict schedule of opening/closing. If I'm too lazy to get of bed on Saturday or have to go into work stupid-early during the week? No worries, the door will always open at the appropriate time after sunrise. Running late with kids' extracurricular activities? No problem, the door always shuts a bit after dark.

    I use both the Pullet Shut door and the ADOR1 and have been very pleased with each. They both run off of battery so no need for running 120VAC.
  8. Kmath

    Kmath In the Brooder

    Feb 19, 2015
    I have the door to the run open all night. I live in the mountains and predators is a concern too. We built a reinforced coop out of 2x4s. They are all braced together to increase strength. We used chain link for the bottom sides and top. Nothing is getting in there. Mine go inside when it's dust and out when it's dawn. I would keep it open if they are safe. Possibly a flap on the door to minimize wind. Most chicken breeds tolerate winter just fine unless it's extremely cold. Just hang a heat lamp in there. Or if you wanna go through the trouble to insulate that's great. Remember to put a vent in the coop!
  9. yellowchicks

    yellowchicks Chirping

    Jun 27, 2014
    My Coop
    I secured my run, leave the coop door open 24 / 7. My chickens go in and out as they please, and I don't have to wake up early to let them out.
  10. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    I saw no reason to install a door on my coop since it's inside a pen. I close the door on the pen every night to keep the varmints out.

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