Shutting them in at night?


10 Years
May 31, 2009
Hello, new flock mistress here, with a question.
I've successfully raised eleven darling little girls (not all mine) in my front room (sigh) and they just went outside for the entire night last night (relieved sigh). They'll be six and seven weeks old tomorrow and have most of their feathers. We'd been putting them out during the day and bringing them in at night but they had become reluctant to come in so we went outside and put them in the hen house. The hen house is inside an entirely fenced area, roof included. I put them in to get them used to going in at night and then I did it again tonight. Fortunately, six of the eleven chose to go in themselves (it might have been the raisins I threw in for them) and the others were fairly simple to grab and put in. There was none of the pitiful peeping tonight that there was last night, they just accepted it and went to sleep.

My question is this: Do I have to shut them in at night after they get older and bigger? I'm confident in the security of the coop coupled with the fact that I live in town with a six foot privacy fence and I was thinking of just letting them settle where they will. Sometimes they'll roost, sometimes they wont. I live in western Colorado so the nights are in the high 50s and low 60s now and when it gets warmer they may want more air.

Another question: The six week old Americauna has not gotten as far along with her feathering as the others, as a matter of fact, she's smaller and only about 70% feathered out. She's very feisty and pretty healthy otherwise. Is this unusual for this breed?

Thanks to all of you who help out novices like myself and for those who share their stories. I'm sure that I'll have more questions later.



Crow's Nest
10 Years
May 13, 2009
Central MO
You will probably have to "encourage" them to go in until they start to do it themselves - they will eventually. As the the one who is feathering out slowly - could be a late bloomer, or possibly a little roo. Maybe not but I would be on the lookout for more male physical charactoristics showing up such as early comb and wattle development. I'm not sure about Americaunas in particular though so I may be way off. Have fun!


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia

You should probably teach them to go in the coop and, later, on the roost, for several reasons. It keeps them out of nests, which keeps poop off eggs. It teaches them to sleep where they will be out of the weather; if they are caught in the rain in the middle of the night, they will stay where they are. You said they are not all yours. Most people don't have a secure enough run to leave them out at night, so they will want the chickens to go in at night. Many on here find that their run was not as secure as they thought, and decide on locking chickens in a coop at night for this reason.

If your coop is not well ventilated enough to cool off to outside temps, then it should probably have some modifications to provide more ventilation. Read here:

for the slow feathering, that can happen in many breeds, probably any breed. Sometimes it is just individual variation. Sometimes it is an early clue that the chick is a roo.

Good luck!
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11 Years
Jun 15, 2008
A 6' fence does not keep out an owl. It also does not keep out a large cat, raccoon, etc... All of those can harm or kill chickens in their sleep. I lost some to a cat. Even people with solidly enclosed runs usually lock their chickens up at night in a building. There is far too much risk from not only animals but humans. There have been plenty of posts on here of people in city limits losing chickens to other humans. Having them roosting about the yard or in an open door building is just inviting something or someone to take them.


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
No, as long as you're ok with the idea of some day not having chickens anymore when you go out there in the morning.

I'm confident in the security of the coop coupled with the fact that I live in town with a six foot privacy fence

So have LOTS of people been. Unfortunately, being confident in the security of the coop and the inviolability of a privacy fence generally just means that you are underestimating predators' abilities.

Truly, go browse the "Predators and Pests" section of BYC, and you will find a lot of threads with titles like "something ate all my chickens last night" coming from people in suburban/urban areas, with 6' privacy fences, and what they thought were totally secure runs.

It is not difficult to make a genuinely predatorproof (except for bears, and longterm determined rats) coop. It is nearly impossible to make a genuinely predatorproof run.

Good luck whatever you decide,

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Just Me!
14 Years
Aug 29, 2008
Hogansville, Georgia
I have a totally enclosed run and coop. The run is covered with wood and then the coop has a complete door on it. I also have a 6 foot wooden privacy fence around my yard. My chickens free range through the day and then they put themselves to sleep. I go out around 9pm, do a quick head count and lock the door to both the coop and the run. I want them totally protected. I have the locks on both doors not so much for any possible animals but any possible two legged predators that might want to visit. And yes people here on BYC have had their chickens taken by humans in the dead of night . I feel they are well protected this way and I worry a lot less to.


Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
15 Years
Nov 18, 2007
My Coop
My Coop
I do not shut my pop doors at night. I do have a enclosed run which has a gate on each side for access to their yard which I also leave open. I also have several strands of electric wire around the birds run and yard. Before I put the electric wire up a neighborhood mutt did dig under the yard fence and kill one of my hens. Since I put the electric wires up several months ago, only once that I know of a possum made an effort to dig under the fence until came in contact with the wire.


10 Years
Apr 16, 2009
Flippin, AR
I took advise I found here on the forum. My yard is fenced and has electric fence around that...keeps out cats, dogs, etc. But over the top, I strung a web of fishing line with CDR disc hanging in a couple spots. This lets my birds have sunshine, rain and fresh air, but no preditors from above.
My birds started putting themselves to bed at dusk...I just go out and close the henhouse door. I also have a screened window in the henhouse, and a vent in the roof. If it storms or gets too cold, I just close the window.

My question is...I have 5 roosters that are just huge. My hubby has decided it is time to invite them in the house for supper. Will the older hens take over as head of the pecking order, or one of the younger roosters?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jan 29, 2009
Woodinville, WA
I always close my chickens in at night. 365 nights a year. And 365 mornings a year I go out and open it up so they can run and play.

I think for a while the young rooster will not be leader, until he gets older and more dominant. Anything goes. The pecking order is always revolving.


11 Years
Jan 22, 2009
yes you always have to close them up at nite. every. single. nite.

no you are not being mean. they will learn to go in at nite. even tho it gets dark about 9pm here i put mine in about 7 or 7:30 - or at dusk when the predators come out.

if you are not convinced check out the predators section and see how easy it is to loose chickens even in broad daylight.

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