locking hens up ay night?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chickmamataylor, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. chickmamataylor

    chickmamataylor New Egg

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    Mar 7, 2015
    Hi All! I'm the proud mama of 9 baby chicks that are about 2 weeks old now. We are starting coop constitution this weekend and I'm wondering what you all do with your hens. Our design is loosely following the Wichita Coop. The run will be secured and covered completely. How necessary is it to close the girls into thehenhouse each evening? We arenot always home before dark, and 3 days a week leave before dawn for work. I'm hoping they put themselves to bed and I don't have to lock them up each night.

    What do you all do?
     
  2. Bradfordj

    Bradfordj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would say the correct answer to that depends on the threat of predators in your area. Every bird I have every had brings themselves home a little before sundown. That being said there some breeds that with that freedom you will find them up in a tree or god knows where. I could tell you what mine do, but I trust they are safe during the day. Try it out and see what happens.
     
  3. chickmamataylor

    chickmamataylor New Egg

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    We live in a residential neighborhood. There are a couple cats though our dog does a good job keeping them away. We sometimes have seen skunks and raccoons. There are no trees in the run space, and they would not be free ranging if we were not home to supervise because of our dog. I wouldn't trust her not to want to "play" with them ;)
     
  4. Bradfordj

    Bradfordj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have a dog around the yard, I personally wouldn't be worried!
     
  5. chickmamataylor

    chickmamataylor New Egg

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    Mar 7, 2015
    Oh, and breed wise we've got a menagerie. 2 Easter eggers, Buff Orphington, Australop, Brown Leghorn, Light Brahma, Barred Rock, Silver Laced Wynadotte, and a Black Sex Link.
     
  6. bdjh

    bdjh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you're not locking them in the coop, then you'll need to make your run pretty much predator proof for the critters in your area. I had a skunk try to get into my run one night, but he gave up as soon as he hit the chicken wire I buried around the run. Racoons may be more persistent....not sure.

    One thing for sure, though, whatever tries to get your hens will do so at night.

    We lock ours up every night, and open the door again in the morning, and yes, our experience has been that they put themselves to bed every evening just before dusk.

    While we HAVE forgotten to lock the door at night before, and everyone survived, I would never leave it open intentionally.
     
  7. tcstoehr

    tcstoehr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Coop constitution? I never learned about that.
    Anyway, you do have raccoons as you have seen. Even if you don't see 'em, you have 'em. And likely some other nasties. I lock my hens up each night. I have an automatic door opener/closer that shuts them into the coop at dusk. This of course assumes then hens go into the coop at dusk, which mine do and anyone's can be trained to do. This way if I forget or I'm coming home late for any reason, the chickens are safe and sound. Every night I go out and close the gate on the secure run, but I don't have to. But this way the auto door will let them out into the large run at sunrise, and keep them secure until some time later when I come out and let them free range. I don't like to let my hens roam around unless I've made an appearance first.
     
  8. chickmamataylor

    chickmamataylor New Egg

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    Mar 7, 2015

    construction! Darn Auto correct! unfortunately mine won't be free ranging unless I'm outside and home, they'll just have their secure run. We plan on training them to go to bed in the house. I heard that once we move them out there to keep them locked in the house for a few days. Is that what you did?
     
  9. tcstoehr

    tcstoehr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah... I kept them locked up in the coop for a week or two. They get to feeling safe in there I think. Then I let them out into the run for a while. When it starts getting dark they naturally seek a safe place to roost. They instinctively know that night is a dangerous and vulnerable time for them. So it makes perfect sense for them to go back into the coop where at least there's a roof over their heads, walls to hide behind, and no owl is gonna swoop down and grab them.
     
  10. havery

    havery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never locked up my hens at night beyond the first week they were out there, but our run is just as predator-safe as the coop itself. We only occasionally free range because we live next to a busy road and the backyard belongs to my dog. I've closed it during particularly bad weather, but that's not very common in my area.
     

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