Need to lock the chickens up at night?

Eggstravaganza

In the Brooder
7 Years
Nov 25, 2012
23
0
32
So I'm building a chicken coop/covered run at my school and its going to be managed completely by volunteers since I'm graduating this year. I'm going to have a coop and an attached covered run and I obviously want them to sleep in the coop every night. I don't think I'll have trouble training them to sleep in there but I'm wondering how important it is that I close the doors between the run and coop. I'm in northern California so it never gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so at night and most of the time closer to 60. All doors to the outside will be closed and we're using hardware cloth and heavy duty staples to try and stop raccoons/predators but can they dig under? In my coop at home I have a similar design and we've had no trouble with raccoons or anything but we lock them up every night. It's just that if we're going to close the doors between the run and coop at school at night, I'd have to get someone who will be there after school to go out and close them up. I dont think this is really a problem at all except during certain months they would have to get the chickens in and close em up long before it's actually dark out because the person will have to leave school around 6:00 or so. Does this make sense? I'm now realizing as I write this that it's pretty important to lock them up to keep them safe but is it okay to have them locked up for a few hours when its still light out? And how hard would it be to collect them all and get them inside if they're running around? Basically, any ideas/recommendations to help me solve this problem?
 

Wrooster

Songster
8 Years
Apr 13, 2013
150
34
136
Northern Florida
I'd make the whole thing (run & coop) critter-proof and at least somewhat vandal-proof. The chickies aren't going to want to go to bed early any more than any children do. It's going to take real dedication or clever bribery to get them in the coop before they're ready.

Run a 12" wide stip of fencing around the run flat on the ground ouside, fasten it down and cover it with dirt. Make sure little racoon fingers can't open the latches.
 

Eggstravaganza

In the Brooder
7 Years
Nov 25, 2012
23
0
32
Ooh that dig-proof fencing on the ground is a great idea. I'll definitely use that. So you think if I make sure it's super predator-proofed I'll be okay with not locking the inside doors at night?
 

Wrooster

Songster
8 Years
Apr 13, 2013
150
34
136
Northern Florida
I don't think you're going to get them inside early enough to lock them in so whether it's really OK or not, I think you're stuck with it. Another thing is the volunteer help, who might skip closing or opening the coop and also might not notice something as readily. One specific thing to look for is tracks. Foxes & racoons often like to check things out before doing the deed. Some raked bare dirt or sand that shows tracks can be a good early warning.

We have a fairly secure run and very secure coop. Outside the run we have a large fenced area we let them into all day. We close the door to the run at night but haven't closed the door to the coop for a couple of years. I've caught 2 small possums and 1 snake inside the "secure area" but no damage has been done except to eggs. And the aforementioned critters.

BTW, you say " I'm in northern California so it never gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so at night and most of the time closer to 60...." Well I'm in northern Florida and it got a lot colder than that until about a month ago. I don't complain about cold (a little more would be nice starting in a few weeks) but it does complicate some things.

Do the best you can and that's all you can do. I can't say there isn't some risk but you can control it. Make sure the coop CAN be locked if need be.

I'd like to hear what someone else thinks.
 

blacklab23

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 16, 2013
5
0
45
Our chicks definitely always sleep in their coop. We just kept them in the coop for a couple days when they first moved in, then opened the hatch out to the run & they always go inside the coop at night. We never close that hatch door now so they can go in and out to the run as they please.
 

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