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Locking chickens in at night.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Maryb, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. Maryb

    Maryb In the Brooder

    Aug 29, 2010
    Maui Hawaii
    I have four hens who free range during the day. They are great about coming back to their coop at night and then I close and lock the door. In the morning the make so much noise until I let them out. I'm wondering if I can just leave the door open? I live on the island of Maui and we don't have any reAl predators and our neighborhood doesn't seem to have any free roAm dogs. Would their be any problem with my hens going wild and not coming home or laying outside their coop? What do you think? Can I just leave the door open all the time?

  2. GeeVee

    GeeVee In the Brooder

    Jul 24, 2010
    Sonoma County
    well they probably wouldn't wander too far, but predator-wise, it could be risky. i dont know anything about your area, but if there is any chance of weasels, raccoons, skunks....ANY animal that might sneak into the pen.... I'd close the door at night. This is coming from a person who has found decapitated hens in the coop when a weasel squeezed through a small hole [​IMG] very sad.
    but if you are really confident there are zero predators around, then give it a try.
  3. Buster2nz

    Buster2nz In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2010
    New Zealand
    I wouldn't leave their door open at night, they will slowly decided that they can make up their own minds and stop out, next they will lay somewhere other than your hen house and next thing you know your hens are actually running wild and won't come home to you.

    Left to their own to decided where to sleep, they like to go up into the trees at night, basically you end up losing control over them.[​IMG]

    Hope this helps:)
  4. ScotH

    ScotH In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2010
    South East Texas
    I am complete new to chicken keeping and I will have to keep mine in their run, but would love to free-range them.
    (Only thing I can come up with is) Do you have any large Owls there? ... or other evening \\ night-time predators there...?
  5. 3chimama

    3chimama Songster

    May 8, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    I totally agree. Also, if one gets bumble foot, etc, and you need to treat them, it is much easier to go in at night with a flashlight to get them out to treat....
  6. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    Even a cat would find a sleeping chook easy prey. I lock mine up, actually I double lock them. I learned my lesson when I was a kid raccoons got my ducks. I'm. Going away for a week and am terrified my dh isn't going to take care of them properly.
  7. emilysteng

    emilysteng Songster

    May 21, 2010
    I'm on Oahu and though I don't own chickens, I have a few chicken friends who are semi-wild but people friendly. I do worry about them a little. Neighborhood dogs, Mongoose, and stray cats are possible dangers to them. I think they sleep up in the trees at night, but if I owned chickens I think I would lock them up at night. Plus, I think they would definitely start finding hidden places to lay their eggs.

  8. chicksbestfriend

    chicksbestfriend Songster

    Jul 12, 2010
    Maui, Hawaii

    I also live in Maui, and I would advise you to secure your hens in at night. I incubate and sell chicks, and my biggest complaint from folks just starting off with chickens is that either a mongoose, stray cats, wild dogs, or neighbors cats and dogs have taken down their birds. Havent heard of any being taken out by owls, the only owls that I know of on the island are the white Hawaiian owls. I have had folks come back several times to pick up more birds because even after fool proofing their coops and runs, they have still encountered attacks. Nothing more devestating than raising a hen to 5 months old, or almost ready to lay, and then gets taken out by a predator. I let mine range from dawn to dusk and then lock them in at night. Rather be safe than sorry!
  9. Shiloh Acres

    Shiloh Acres Chirping

    Jul 16, 2010
    If you have mongoose, cats, etc. I wouldn't. But ...

    I had a large flock I used to coop up in Ft Knox, with free-ranging during the day in a 1-acre backyard. For various reasons (fencing, my dog, etc) I pretty much quit worrying about predators after about a year and started leaving the coop open. I didn't lose a single chicken to predators (well, a flighty free chick disappeared, but that was before I started leaving the coop open and I suspect she flew away). I DID have my heavy regular layers laying in a few spots in the yard. When I briefly tried locking them in at night to break the habit, they just held the eggs till I let them out later in the day. I decided it wasn't worth it and let them lay in their chosen spots.

    Hens prone to broodiness are another matter. All my bantams would get broody and sleep on their nests, even with eggs removed. I never lost any. One persistent girl left the yard to hide and in hatch her eggs and didn't come back until she had chicks. THOSE chicks refused to sleep in the coop at night and remained semi-wild. My other laying hens never abandoned the coop for sleeping. All went in, every night. Could have been partially thanks to my roo though, who kept pacing till they were all in and then he went in to roost.

    But ... With those predators and no other protection, I wouldn't.
  10. emilysteng

    emilysteng Songster

    May 21, 2010
    I have a question for chicksbestfriend. I see you have a pig in you pic - do you know anything about pig/chicken interaction? I am guessing pigs aren't interested in chickens but I'm not sure. Just curious. There are wild pigs around where my wild chicken friends live (Kaneohe) and I am curious how they might interact with each other. I know my chicken friends make their "warning" sound whenever mongoose or feral/stray cats wander by, though they don't run and hide. They only run and hide when the neighbor's golden retriever comes over cause she will actually chase them. The cats and chickens pretty much ignore each other, from what I've seen. I'm sure the mongoose get alot of the eggs from the wild chickens around who aren't people friendly. But since we never see the pigs, I don't know what happens.

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