Securing hens at night?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by rickys-chickys, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. rickys-chickys

    rickys-chickys New Egg

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    Oct 12, 2012
    Greetings, I want to start raising some hens for eggs and fertilizer for my garden. I also like the idea of raising chickens. My concern is that I work odd hours and I would not be able to let my hens out of their coop in the morning. I was thinking about converting a chain link dog run into my chicken run. It would be fenced on all sides, including the top. I was hoping that I would then be able to leave the coop open and the hens could come and go as they pleased. I live in the city limits of San Diego, Ca.. The weather is temperate and my back yard is completely fenced. I have seen skunks, racoons and coyotes in the area. Anyhow, is it necessary to lock my chickens in the coop at night? Literally, I don't want to lose sleepover this. Thanks in advance. This is a really neat site. Thanks, Rick
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Assuming you have enough square footage of quality forage to make free-range keeping worthwhile, you can make so birds roost up in an elevated location that most mammals cannot jump or climb up to. If possible have birds, roost at least 8 feet above ground. Daytime while foraging birds will be vulnerable to all critters you mention plus hawks. This is despite fencing. Enhancing available cover can help with hawks.
     
  3. rickys-chickys

    rickys-chickys New Egg

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    I really don't have the room for free ranging. I live in the city with a fenced in yard. I was planning on keeping perhaps 4 hens in an enclosed and covered 6'x8' chain link dog run. If I position my elevated coop within the run, will it keep them safe even if I do not close them up in the hen house all night?
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would be cautious with chain link depending on the predators in your area. If you have raccoons or opposums then chain link will not be predator proof. They can actually grab them through the fence and eat them through the links. It is a bit gruesome and I have seen it happen to people on this forum a lot. I would buy hardware cloth with the tiny little square holes and attached it all around the bottom 3 feet or so of chain link to make it more safe.

    All depends on how urban your city area is and what critters you have wandering around.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  5. Darkwings

    Darkwings Out Of The Brooder

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    That is exactly what I did for my coop. We have an older tool shed that was converted into the coop itself. Then chainlink dog panels for the run, covered in shade cloth. My chickens free range in my backyard during the day. I never lock them in the coop part at night. The doors are the sliding variety so I just slide them mostly closed. Since I also leave for work early in the morning, I sometimes leave the gate from the run to the yard open. I live in a neighborhood and have never had problems with predators of any sort.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  6. hotteaplez

    hotteaplez Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello San Diego, I am originally from Ca; been here in Mo for many years. I am casual w/my chickens. I have lost some & it is gruesome! I live in a rural area & have a fence around my barn & henhouse. The whole back part of my chicken yard is to the pasture. We have lots of preditors around. And, yes, I sometimes do not get back & close them up. But, I have a very good dog that figures if he can't have them nobody else can!!! A few years ago when I first got chickens, he got some too. That was awful. That was only when I let them out to be free. Now I am very careful about that. When I am not home They are in the fence. I would just say a dog around would be good. I wish you luck, but sometimes things happen. There are so many creatures that eat chickens, like us.[​IMG]
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    The predators of urban setting most likely to beat your coop fencing are raccoon and oppossum. Make so roost sit is at least 4 feet above ground and walls pole is supported by are smooth. Both raccoon and oppossum have limited jumping ability. Consider placing peices of plywood as part of wall inside coop and mounting roost pole to those.

    A good roost will keep birds safe even if raccoon or oppossum gets into coop. Still effort to keep those dudes out.


    What are you doing to keep from keeping critters from coming in on top?
     
  8. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    During the day, my birds are in a fenced orchard, but at night, they have a coop with an attached night run. They have full access to the night run and they do fine. They can go into the coop or not, their choice. I got a large selection of hungry predators in my area and my birds are perfectly safe.

    My night run is made of dog kennel panels, but they are welded steel and not chain link. Then, I have horse panels (2X4 inch squares livestock panels) over the top, and poultry net on the lower sides and laid out in a skirt on the ground. There is also wire completely covering the floor of the run. Then a tarp covers the top and sides to make it rain-proof. That's to prevent mud, not to keep the birds dry because they can go into the coop when it rains.

    I've seen a strong dog hook his toes into chain link and pull it right off the frame. So if you use chain link, go around the bottom and use strong wire to lace the chain link to the frame so it can not be pulled off. Then abut 2 - 2 1/2 feet up the sides line the outside of the chain link with something with small holes that a raccoon can't reach through. Pay attention to the gap around the gate, that it is not big enough for something to reach in.

    But in answer to your question: yes, your birds will be perfectly safe at night with both a coop and access to a run, as long as the run is secure against your local predators. Raccoons are the hardest to thwart, so make your run raccoon-proof and the birds will be just fine with full time access to the run.
     
  9. rickys-chickys

    rickys-chickys New Egg

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    Yikes, I never realized the tenacity of predators. Thanks to all that replied. I am looking forward to getting my chickens and keeping them safe!
     
  10. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

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    My coop has a large attached run which we made as predator proof as possible. We have hardware cloth buried all around the perimeter of the run and coop - and the fencing is hardware cloth all around the run and over the top. We leave the pop doors open at night and the chickens are free to go in and out of the coop whenever they want. For a long time, we closed the pop doors at night and the chickens couldn't go out into the run until we opened the doors in the morning. However, after looking at it realistically, the run is as secure as the coop. So we stopped opening and closing the pop doors. If your run is secure, then there is no reason to close the pop doors each night.
     

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