Leaving chickens out in run while you're gone

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by torretornado, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. torretornado

    torretornado Just Hatched

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    I'm new to this, we don't have ladies yet but I'm thinking through the whole idea. I work 2-3 days a week out of the house. I leave early around 630 Am on those days, I'm home usually no later than 5. Would it be ok to open the little chicken door (technical name? [​IMG]) into the enclosed run and leave them out there? They could go into the coop as needed, my mom sits my kids at my house so they won't be "unattended" per-say.
     
  2. Chicken Girl1

    Chicken Girl1 Stuck back in the 40s Premium Member

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    How enclosed is your run? Is it very secure? I just had a hawk (I almost positive it was a hawk) get one of my hens today when I was at church because I left them in my "uncovered" run so I'm feeling more "safe then sorry" mood. I've had chickens for 5 years and usually leave them alone in the "uncovered" run (which has access to the covered run and coop) when we are gone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  3. torretornado

    torretornado Just Hatched

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    Run will be covered completely.
     
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  4. Chicken Girl1

    Chicken Girl1 Stuck back in the 40s Premium Member

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    Then I think you should be fine :). Also most predators come in the night.
     
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  5. torretornado

    torretornado Just Hatched

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    Thank you!
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    A covered secure run will be just fine for your chickens while you're at work as long as it's big enough to prevent them from being over crowded. While most predators typically come at night, you are wise keeping them in the run during the day as most predators are opportunists. I have had coyotes take 3 or 4 birds in the middle of the afternoon. A few years ago I had a mama raccoon and her 4 babies get into my coop and kill my mama hen right at noon.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ditto Dat^^^...especially the "most predators typically come at night"...many 'night' predators hunt during the day, especially when they have young to feed.
    And remember domestic dogs running loose are often the worst predators for backyard chickens.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Other readers have reported weasels getting into a tractor and killing a whole brood of chicks in mid day. I've seen raccoons out and about mid day. Foxes toften seen hunting mid day. If your run does not have a buried skirt, it is not predator proof. If it is covered with chicken wire, it is most certainly not predator proof. You have to do a risk assessment, and match that up with the depth of your wallet, to decide if your run is adequate. All of that being said, I would choose to loose birds to predators than keep them shut up in a coop multiple days/week.
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I prefer to let mine free range, too, but will put them on lockdown if I run into a problem or have family coming to visit that will be bringing their dogs.

    Weasels are tough - the smaller ones need about an inch or even less to get in the coop. And they are vicious little killers. I think chickens are more in danger of being killed by them when they're locked in rather than when they're out. But when they're out, you have all the other things out to get them...
     
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I never ever close my pop door, so my chickens can go from run to coop and back anytime they want to. I'm too lazy to get up at 0'dark-stupid and let the out for the day, and our schedule is such that I'd have times I wouldn't be around to put them back in anyway. Don't trust auto-doors for no particular reason other than I don't trust them, although people use them with great success. With my husband's position in his fraternity, we often leave town for days at a time and from the time she was 8 years old, our granddaughter has been in total charge of everything from the feeding to the egg gathering. She does an amazing job, and she's now 10 years old. So I need to have my setup as fuss-free as possible.

    Our run is as predator-proof as possible, with a 2 foot hardware cloth skirt and hardware cloth apron. It's fully covered with chicken wire wired in over cattle panels to deter overhead predators and pests, and that hardware cloth protection extends all the way around the coop. In summer there is a sunshade covering the run, and in winter we use a mesh reinforced clear plastic greenhouse type cover. There are double latches on the doors. Only once did I have a "predator" try to get in, and that was our English Setter Molly. She got overexcited when the young chicks were turned out into the run for the first time and tried digging underneath to get them. She broke and bloodied a toenail and never tried it again - in fact she blamed the chickens for her "owie" and from that day on gave them wide berth, even when they were out free ranging.

    I like my chickens to be able to decide for themselves whether they want to be in the coop or in the run. I don't have to try to herd them back in if the weather goes sour, don't have to teach them how to go in and out because the newer chicks just follow the older birds at night, and with our long winters here they don't have to be crammed into the coop until I can let them out. If one chicken is being picked on a bit, she has plenty of hiding places provided and can get there on her own.

    What you do is entirely up to you. You'll find what works best for you as you go along! Just remember that predators don't always come at night - if they're hungry and they know there's a chicken dinner close by, they don't care what time it is!! Stray dogs can be a huge problem, so don't just think "wild animals".

    Welcome to BYC!! Glad to have you here!
     

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