Hi! I'm new!

What should I do?

  • Lock them in the coop

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Let them use the run

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Both are bad ideas

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Either is ok

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Jul 15, 2016
Hi! I'm Allison. I live in Downtown Sacramento and I've got 3 lovely ladies (Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, and a little Australorp) that are about 8 weeks old (I got them 8 weeks ago at the feed store). We put them outside a month or so ago and they're happy as clams! I've got that SummerHawk Ranch Vintage Red Barn Chicken Coop from Home Depot which is great, except it doesn't have chicken wire under the run. I let them into the run in the morning and shut them back in the coop when it gets dark. Usually I let them run around for a while (out of the run) when we get home. They're so cute! The Plymouth Rock just figured out how to catch flies off of her poop (she got a mouthful of poop the first couple of times).

Anyways, I'm going out of town this weekend (I'll leave today and be back Sunday evening) and I was wondering what you guys thought would be better: leave the door open (allow them to go from run to coop as they like) or closed (lock them in the coop).

Here are the facts:
  • It should be below 95 this weekend
  • There are several neighborhood cats that have shown interest (but I spray them with water whenever I see them in the area)
  • I have seen racoons
  • There is no wire below the run
  • We have a gallon water feeder and a pretty big food thing
  • They have been outside for at least a month, but never out of the run except under direct supervision
  • We have a mister on a timer (between 2-6 pm)
  • I put a white tarp over the coop to keep some of the sun off
  • They're not laying or anything
  • I put the water and food in the nesting boxes, so they have access to both either way

My concerns are running out of water and getting too heat (if I leave them locked in the coop) or being killed by something (if I let them come and go into the run as they please). I'm ok with them being a little uncomfortable if that means they are alive, but obviously I want them to be happy! These are my first chickens and I already almost lost one to heat stroke (the Australorp) and I really want them to be ok!

I know it's super late notice but any advice is welcome! Thanks!!
If it will stay below 95 the whole time you're gone and you can give them enough food and water to last, I'd probably leave them locked in the coop.
Raccoons are relentless predators.
When you say there is no wire on the bottom of the pen, do you mean covering what could be considered the floor?
You don't want a wire floor because they want to scratch in the dirt and they can get wounds on their feet that can cause bumblefoot.
Besides, raccoons laugh at chicken wire. They can rip it apart.
Thanks so much for responding! Yes, I mean no wire underneath the run. I thought it was standard practice to bury some chicken wire 6 inches down (so they still have room to bathe and peck). Is that a bad idea?

Raccoons terrify me and I'm 5'7"! I can't imagine the poor girls being faced with them. That's so scary that they can tear chicken wire apart.

Do you have bees too? I do as well! They're a lot easier (so far).
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

As long as you are sure it isn't going to get above 95, I agree...lock them in the coop. Predators are awful. They will not give up until they get their meal. And they will continue to come back for more. So you should never give them the chance at one of them.

Make sure they have plenty of space (at LEAST 4 square feet per bird) in the coop, keep a fan running continuously, give them things to do...hanging veggies, (cabbages, apples) a seed block, places to escape each other, put a mirror in there, make sure they have adequate ventilation all weekend long, don't shut it down so tightly that no fresh air gets in. Use plenty of bedding to absorb poop and put out two times more water than you think they will need. Not only may they drink more water being locked up in the heat, but if they dump one of the waterers over while arguing, there will be another.

Good luck and welcome to BYC! :)
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Personally I think below 95 is still way hot . I would not leave them alone without a responsible person checking in on them at least once a day.
You say you already lost an Australorp to heat and they are a breed than usually can handle it.
If you lock them in, with the 95° weather, they are going to be roasting alive in the coop. If you open the door, they will become cat/raccoon meal. Do you any neighbors or friends that could keep an eye on them?

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