To lock or not to lock?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 12, 2010
Opinions please: My coop is attached to my run, which is locked and predator-proof (*knocks on wood*). I lock my girls in the coop each night for added security. I am going out of town for 3 days and have a "farm-sitter" coming once a day to take care of all the animals. But she is coming in the early evenings. I hate to have her lock up the girls in the coop at like 5 p.m., especially when it's hot all day and still hot in the coop at that time. Dare I have the farm-sitter just leave the coop open so they can go in at their usual time? And, if so, will the girls feel "insecure" with their coop door being open all night? What do you all with predator-proof runs do? Thanks!
I have the exact same problem....I would be interested to know what others think...i am very nervous about leaving my girls out of their coop at night and free to roam in the predator proof (also knock on wood) run....
We'll be leaving town at the end of summer and will have a similar choice. My plan is to just leave the doors to the hen house open, so that the chickens can come and go between the coop and the house. I've forgotten to lock them in altogether a couple times already, and so far, they don't seem shaken up about not being shut in.
I've worked in a Zoo where there were feral chickens, and they roosted in the trees and on fences at night. I don't think they minded being in the open at all... They are tougher than we give them credit for.
I would go around and double and triple check that the run is as secure as you can possibly make it... Unless you are seeing signs of predators trying to get into the run, I wouldnt worry about only 3 days.
I just got back from the long weekend and had opted to leave my girls out while I was gone. My coop and run are very secure with hardwire cloth but the top of my run is chicken wire....which we all know predators can get through without a problem. I put a blue tarp over it so the hawks couldn't see them. I left the girls with a ball of cabbage and had a neighbor come and throw them some scratch to ease the boredom. They are used to free ranging all day. They were fine. I chose to leave it open because of the heat also.
I had to make the same choice a few weeks ago. I had comments left on my post about locked up hens pecking each other and other troubles. I left the pop door open to the run for the long weekend. I still go out and shut their pop door almost every night I'm home, but I like giving them the space when I can't be around. Just have your visitor look for signs that something has been trying to get in or damage. They'll be fine.
We left for an extra long weekend over memorial day, I did leave my pop door open the whole weekend so they could access the run, and they were fine when we got home. It was stressful and that drive into the driveway and seeing them in their pen ok was Joyous!!
We have a raised coop that is 4' X 7' with access from the bottom. This opens into a run that is 6' X 7' plus the shaded area under the coop. This whole area is on a concrete pad and enclosed in chicken wire including the top. We then have an attached 12' X 12' area with 2" X 4" wire mesh fencing topped with bird netting. We only have 6 hens so even the small area is good for a few days. I got a picture uploaded but can't figure out how to get it in the post. Will keep trying
I have to many chickens and chicks to just leave them out in the open. I do let them out in the fenced in yard during the day. My fun isn't covered and with the woods I wouldnt' trust things. I've recently seen a cat hanging around. That said I have paid a friend to come and stay at the house to let them out in the morning and lock them up at night.
Only you know what's best for you, how much of a risk you are willing to take, and whether you are willing to sustain the loss should something happen.

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