Must they be inside overnight?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by emen8, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. emen8

    emen8 In the Brooder

    Oct 5, 2007
    The Poconos
    One reason I got chickens was that they need less frequent attention than a dog, which my family wanted.

    I got a used chicken coop, basically a 3 foot cube, and elevated it 3 feet off the ground. I built the run out from the top and sides of the coop. Underneath the coop, the supporting legs are covered by plywood on three sides. The four hens have almost 60 square feet outdoors to roam around. At first, I covered the run with chicken wire, then found out it's not strong enough for predators. So I added 2" x 4" welded wire on top of the chicken wire, and attached chicken wire to the bottom and extended it out about 8" from the bottom edges, covering it up with dirt. I think I've done pretty well protecting the run from most predators, unless a bear wants to tear apart the coop.

    In the evenings, the girls like to roost on the studs underneath the coop, in the area protected on three sides by plywood. Each night I have to pick them up individually to get them inside the coop and lock the door. They don't particularly like that, even though they have food & water inside, and there are three shelves at different levels to roost on. The bottom is fairly deeply covered in pine shavings.

    Does everyone make their chickens come inside from the run each night? Or could I let them stay under the coop, since it seems that's what they want? I didn't read this forum enough before getting the chickens, because I originally thought if I went away for a weekend I could leave them outside. Or should I lock them up if it's just a weekend? For longer vacations, I can get a pet-sitter.

  2. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    When I get new girls I have to lock them inside the coop for several days so that they learn that the coop is their home & where they sleep. If you didn't confine them to start with they didn't know to go back into the coop. If your run is safe from predators & if they want to sleep in the run let them. Some people have open access to the run 24/7. I did for awhile but feel safer with them shut in for the night. It's really up to you and how safe you think they will be. If raccoons or other predators can reach in they will grab your chickens while they sleep and kill them. Just make sure that they can't be reached if you decide to let them sleep in the run at night. I myself would want them in the coop at night. Good Luck
  3. Heidi

    Heidi Songster

    Mar 18, 2007
    Northwest Michigan
    Mine all go inside the coop as dusk and they are locked in. We are surrounded by woods and have many predators. If fact one night while we had company sitting around our fire pit (which is 20 feet away from the hen house) a raccoon actually tried to climb the 6 foot fence to get in the yard - very daring if you ask me. So I would definiately recommend locking them up if you live out in the country.
  4. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Songster

    Jul 5, 2007
    upstate New York
    I have to agree. Locking them in at night is the only way to keep them safe, even though it's pesty. I've heard too many stories of "I went out in the morning and found them dead, and I thought my run was predator proof!"
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Do you have chicken wire and 2x4 welded wire layered over the roof of the run, as well as top to bottom on the sides? If not, I would absolutely not leave them out in the run.

    How do the indoor and outdoor roosts compare? Did you say they have shelves to roost on indoors and a stud on the outside? Maybe they like the size and shape of the outdoor roost better than what you provided. If you change the indoor roost to be more like the outdoor roost, they might like it better.

    The other thing you could check, would be to make sure they have enough ventilation in the coop, so it isn't stuffy.
  6. allen wranch

    allen wranch Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    San Marcos, TX
    How many chickens are you putting in your 3x3 cube ?
  7. chickengirlnm

    chickengirlnm Songster

    Sep 4, 2007
    clovis, new mexico
    I had a problem with my chickens after I built there coop, they were sleeping in a dog kennel and got very used to that being home until I moved them - first few nights were crazy they did not know where to go so me and DH would gather all of them one-by-one and put them to bed after about 3-4 nights like this they got the idea to go inside on thier own ( all but my roo who took to roosting in the tree above coop ) clipped his wing and now he goes in with his girls.
    I think if you keep showing them where to sleep they will get the idea to go in own thier own.

    Good luck.
  8. emen8

    emen8 In the Brooder

    Oct 5, 2007
    The Poconos
    Quote:I have four hens.

    The coop has a plywood roof, and the run roof is
    covered in chicken wire and welded fence.
  9. When we first got our chickens we assumed we'd have to do a "Chicken Round-Up" every night, and physically pick them up and put them in the coop, and we were fine with that. It turns out that as the sun starts to set, they head for the run if they are free-ranging, or into the coop if it gets dark. We go down sometime after dark to secure the coop. We have way too many vicious predators to trust leaving the coop open at night, no matter how secure I think I could build the run. The coop itself is built like a regular house, raised off the ground, so only an animal as powerful as a bear might be able to rip a wall open, but the noise would be loud enough to allow me time to grab my rifle and take care of Mister Bear.
  10. Wynette

    Wynette Crowing

    Sep 25, 2007
    My pullets wouldn't go inside the coop for the entire first week they were out in the run. They'd stand on the landing just outside the door to the coop! I picked them up & pushed them gently through the door each night, and after a week, they went in on their own at dusk. (I do leave the door to the coop open when it's extremely hot in the summer, but my run is pretty safe - we dug an 8-12" deep trench around where the perimeter fencing would be, and poured concrete in, and then sank the bottom couple of inches into the concrete...just to be extra safe, as we have plenty of fox!)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: