Keep hens inside coop at night? Every night?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Heckel's Hens, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Heckel's Hens

    Heckel's Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2011
    Southern VA
    Hubby and I were drawing out our coop plans, and I am concerned about the local predators, I saw on here that some people keep their chickens "cooped up" overnight and then let then back out in the morning. How do you do this? Do the chicks willingly go in when you want them to?

    I can just picture the look on my neighbors faces when they see me crawling around the chicken pen, coaxing my "babies" to go to sleep! [​IMG]

    If they stay in overnight, do you leave food/water in there, too?

  2. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms Premium Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    On the Farm!
    I don't have a completly closed in coop, but they put themselves to bed every night and I close the door to the run!! The best thing to do is keep them in the closed in the coop for a couple of weeks so they will know that that is home and they will go there to roost at dusk!! [​IMG]

    As far as the food goes. Mine have access to theirs 24/7 but I have read where people put the food & water in the coop since they usually wake up well before you do and will want to eat & drink!!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  3. ARose4Heaven

    ARose4Heaven Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2009
    Flippin, AR
    Unless your run is built like fort knox, you will want to fluffies to be safely tucked in at night. There are things out there in the night that eat chicken.
  4. certifiedchef

    certifiedchef Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2010
    great question! I have four hens that are about 7 mnths old and after 'locking' them into the coop for one week, they returned to the coop to roost nightly. it is so cute, when I get ome from work they hav egone to bed, but they come out to say hi! LOVE my girls!! here is a pic of our urban coop. hope it helps! would be awesoem to be able to actually give advice instead of always asking!! oh, and the eggs! OMG just wait!!

  5. Jajika

    Jajika Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 24, 2007
    Northern California
    Chickens are creatures of habit.

    Normally they train themselves to go to the one place they feel
    comfortable sleeping. Usually, if they have been raised in a coop they
    will return at dusk by themselves.

    The question is do you need to lock them in to keep them
    safe from night time predators?

    I don't think you need to lock them up all day and night if they already
    go into the coop.

    Watch and see how they behave. One or two nights putting them to bed should
    do it.

  6. Pro_Gymnast32

    Pro_Gymnast32 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 10, 2009
    West Coast
    We do! Their "run" is large enough that we are able to stand up and walk around freely. Everynight at about 5, usually as the sun starts to set, not totally, but a little darker (still so you can see) makes them a whole lot easier to catch. One by one they go in, our 2 year old gold sex link is use to the routine now, but our three younger ones who are almost a year are still getting use to going to bed. I usually end up cornering them and then picking them up one by one and putting them in, and then every morning I.... well not always me [​IMG] lets them out. Letting them out is the fun part because they are all so happy. It only becomes inconvient if you are out of town, or want to go some where for the day, but I personally like saying goodnight to each of them! At night they only get water, unless it has been raining all day then their food is inside, or if they happen to seem hungry. My "special" chicken, my first chicken she is spoiled, sleeps in the garage and has both food and water, and she definitely knows the way to the garage!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  7. Ohhhdear

    Ohhhdear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2010
    West Michigan
    When I took my 2 month old chickens out of the garage and introduced them to their coop, my father in law told me to fence the coop area (about 10' around) for 3 weeks. That's the only area the girls had to roam in. He said after those 3 weeks they'd never go out of sight of the coop and would return to it every night.

    Every night they went into the coop and I latched them in. We live next to a woods and there's every kind of varmint who'd love to have chicken on their nightly menu if I didn't protect the girls!

    After 3 weeks I took down the fence near the coop and allowed them free ranging privileges within a 1/3 acre fenced in area. And my father in law (who grew up on a farm and raised chickens) was absolutely right.
    Every night near dusk they're in their coop, settling down for the night. I have a hot mash in their coop when they retire at night and a flat sided bird feeder nailed to the back door for feed. I have an LED bar light in the coop which gives them extra hours of light in the early morning and evening (14 hours total) so they can feed longer hours. In the warmer months I have water in their coop instead of the hot mash.

    My daughter in law's family raises chickens near Boston, MA. Sometimes they forget to shut in their chickens at night and every single time they've lost a bird or more from predators.
  8. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2011
    Chickens don't get up and move around at night, not even to eat or drink, they stay in their coop on the roosts. Yes, because it is cold this time of year where I live, I do close them in at night. In warm months, I leave the small door open for them to come and go as they wish.
  9. Campngolf

    Campngolf Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2010
    Nor Cal
    I live in a city and have a (fairly) secure run. My four 11 month old girls get closed in their coop in the evening and I let them out each morning around 7:00. (later on weekends [​IMG]) When I introduced them to their coop last summer, I did have to place them in the coop each night for about 10 days. But since then they head to bed each night around dark. Every once in awhile lately though, one or two decide they want to stay out and party in the run at night. I gently encourage them to go inside and they oblige.

    I have found they are much quieter in the mornings when they are still in their coop. And since I don't want to wake the neighbors, this may be the most important reason I coop them at night.

    I have feed/water in the coop also just in case they are hungry before I get out there on the weekends.
  10. kbird

    kbird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2010
    Galena, Maryland
    Our chickens were given to us by a man who came to our farm to pick up some horse manure for his garden. We were thrust in to the chicken business without really having time to "prepare". When he showed up at our farm for his second load of manure, he brought us 2 hens and a rooster as a "thank you". All we had was a 8 x 10 dog kennel with an attached dog house and some corrugated metal laid over the roof. He went in to the woods, found a large branch and ran it through the holes of the chain link sides of the kennel to make a roost for the chickens. He told us to keep the chickens locked up for about a week, then they could free-range. I couldn't imagine that they would "come home to roost" every evening at dusk, but they do it like clockwork. It's a rare time that I have to coax them back in to the coop to be locked up for the night. And yessss, I do lock the gate to their coop at night. Otherwise, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel for any predator lurking in the woods. Chickens are most at danger from foxes, raccoons and hawks. I had a fox kill one of my hens in broad daylight, so you just never know. But definitely lock them up at night.

    I have trained my chickens to come when I call. As incentive, I fill a small plastic container with bird seed, cracked corn, horse grain, whatever I have on hand. I shake it loudly and call, "chick - chick" repeatedly and they come running. Sprinkle some inside their coop and when they go in to get the tasty treat, you can shut the gate or door to the coop. Of course, I always count heads to make sure everyone is accounted for. Good luck, and don't worry - you'll get the hang of it in no time!!

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