As a general rule Chickens are prey to many night predators. Protecting them can include 1) Night Headcount 2) Protection from roaming predators 3) Check for wounds 4) Egg Collection 5) Training if you are free-ranging and teaching them to come when you call.
Do I Need to Close the Chicken Coop at Night
- Able to do a HeadCount
- Protects them from Night Predators
- Check for any wounds / Health issues
- Give extra feed and supplements
- Makes for easy egg Collection in the Morning
- Protects from Severe Elements
- Training for recall – Especially if you are Free-Ranging
Do I Need to Close the Chicken Coop at Night – Our Articles Reference an Article w/ Videos, the Majority written by Veterinarians. Resources for Family Farms, Commercial, Homesteads, and Hobby Farms
It depends upon your environment. If your property is pasture land. It is the closest woods which are several hundred yards away. You will have fewer Predators.
So, while you will get a possum, raccoon, or fox on the property from time to time, your neighbors who live closer to the woods will have more predator problems. Coyote runs along the river for about ½ mile but they don’t tend to venture up to fields. Your larger animals will also probably tend to discourage some of these predators from coming into the fields.
It is recommended that a good, sturdy door is on your coop as well on your run. You will see the most success from that. You can never be too protected from raccoons and rats. Even if you think your setup is bulletproof, they will find a way. It is so frustrating to have to deal with them because of their intelligence and persistence..
To combat that, we found something called an automatic chicken coop door. The manufacturer is local to us, but they ship all over and there are also quite a few options online.
We set our door to sync with sunrise and sunset, or any other time we want it to open/close automatically. The best part is how flat and heavy it is. So, far, they are been really hard for raccoons to get their sneaky paws under.
Our predator-resistant run has a 6-foot high wire fence and a tightly closing gate. Inside the run, we have a shed, and we herd our birds into it each evening.
During the day the birds can go into the coop or hang out in the run. At night, the birds go inside and the door behind them.
Electronic Door can be on Coop or Chicken Run
You can leave the coop open at night and keep the run secured with an electronic door. Typically one or two of the birds at the top of the pecking order will sleep in the entrance threshold for the guard.
An amazing side effect you will notice is that any birds that have not made it into the coop prior to setup of the guard have a very difficult time getting in. the guards will toss the late birds off the ramp.
Predators will try to get in Secure Coop
Predators can tunnel into a really secure Chicken Run around evening time and will attempt to dig, scratch and chew, their way through the wood to get at the chickens inside. A Predator that makes it into a coop can create a slaughter of all your chickens in one night.
Chicken perches can also help in keeping them off the ground.
6 Types of Available Fencing for Chickens
These are some of the types of fencing you may use:
1. Poultry Netting:
Poultry netting is also called bird or deer netting. Made of plastic, the hole in poultry netting varies in size. Its very inexpensive and safe uses around the coop or garden would be to keep your crops safe from wild birds, chickens, bunnies, or deer. Being plastic, it’s not strong and as predator-proof as another fencing. But again, it’s an easy, affordable way to cover the top of your day run.
2. Welded wire:
Welded wire is the safest option for your coop and run. It’s impervious to even larger predators such as dogs, coyotes, and foxes but will keep out the smallest of predators including weasels, snakes, and mice.
For the windows and vents in your chicken coop, you should go with ½” welded wire. If you want to be super cautious, you can choose the ¼” size, but be aware that it takes forever to cut.
You can use ½” welded wire on all the openings in your chicken coop and also along with the bottom three feet of my chicken run.
Having the smaller holes along the bottom of the run is good practice since most predators will be looking to get in at ground level. This prevents a raccoon from reaching in to try to grab chickens or ducks, keeps snakes from slipping in, and also keeps out field mice.
3. 1” welded wire:
Welded wire also comes with 1” sized holes. You can use the 1” welded wire along the top three feet of my chicken run. This still will keep out any climbing predators like a raccoon or fisher cats but is a bit more affordable and easier to cut then the ½” wire.
4. ½” * 1” welded wire:
Another option for welded wire is the ½” *1” size fencing. This is a great choice for your chicken run if you can find it. It’s also called rabbit fencing sometimes. It combines the safety of the ½” holes with the ease of cutting of the 1” hole.
Using these fencing, your chickens will be safe day or night.
5. Chain link fencing:
Chain link fencing is a great option for your chicken run. To make your Chicken run more predator-proof. if you aren’t home during the day the bottom two or three feet can be wrapped in a smaller gauge wire to keep snakes, mice, and weasels out, and to prevent the raccoon from reaching through the larger opening in the chain link. This is a strong Deterrent
6. Electric fencing:
If you are worried about predators like bears, cougars, or mountain lions, then electric fencing might be the way to go.
Structuring a double layer of fencing works well-meaning your run electric fencing around your run fencing with a sort of no man’s land of a foot or so in between the two, to keep your chickens even safer.
Electric fencing around their perimeter can also be effective if you want to let your chickens free-range during the day and often change the location in which they roam.
While electric fencing can be an expensive initial investment and needs to be checked periodically to be sure it’s working, once you have bought the kit and get it set up, it can provide coverage for a relatively large area where your chickens can free-range safely.
It will also Keep the larger predators out, provide an extra layer of security. It can be used for night and day security purposes.
Mistakes / Chicken Coop Construction
There are the following mistakes made by builders during building the coop:
1. Not Designing / Planning
When you are ready to build a chicken coop you need to plan every aspect of the coop before you even pick up a hammer.
To build a chicken coop find a quality plan. Collect all of the materials. Select material that will be easy to attain, easy to work with, and easy to clean up. Plan the functionality of your coop. the doors need to open inwards, not outwards.
If you build it the other way with the door opening outwards your chickens will begin roosting on your windows. Your chickens will spend a lot of time in the coop so they need fresh air, designing a coop with sliding windows is a great way to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the summer.
When you build a chicken coop you must consider how will you keep the floors clean in your coop. First, you will need to cover them with a good material for the chickens to dig and scratch as they naturally do. Hay is, unfortunately, not ideal for this.
Second, you should build the coop and the dirt on the floor easily sloping towards the door. This way you can spray and wash with the hose in the coop and the dirt on the floor easily slides out to the ground below. You will have a clean coop and no puddles of water in the coop.
2. Not Enough Ventilation
Building a chickens coop is to protect your flock. The purpose of your coop is to protect your chickens from the element and outside predators, but you also need to give them proper ventilation.
Free movement of air inside the coop is very important., but you do not want to freeze your chickens with a draft. Chickens are like humans, they can only perform at their optimum levels if all of their basic needs are met first, in this case, protection and oxygen.
Building windows that can be opened and closed, helps for coolness and ventilation and limiting drafts and heat loss in winter.
A chicken coop without free air movement and therefore more oxygen will have high carbon monoxide levels and humidity levels. This is not good because uncomfortable chickens do not produce as many eggs. It is also very dangerous because it makes mold growth within the wall very easy.
3. Not Insulating the Walls:
To build a chicken coop properly insulating the walls is very important. The wall of the chicken coop needs to have good insulation installed. This will help keep the chickens warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It needs to be installed in a manner where the chickens cannot scratch it out. Fiberglass insulation is very itchy.
The insulation will also help to keep the coop at optimum humidity levels. When the chickens are kept at optimum humidity levels they produce more eggs. Insulating the wall will also help to keep the chicken dry.
In colder climates when your chickens are dry they can withstand the cold temperatures better. Insulating the walls will not only keep your chickens producing more eggs but it will help prevent your chickens from getting sick.
4. Not putting the water and the feeders in the correct place:
If you build a chicken coop, obviously the water and the chicken feeders need to be in a place where your chicken can easily access them. It is important to be very careful in selecting a place to put the water and the feeders. Chicken can make a big mess of things because of their natural instinct to scratch and dig. It is very frustrating to see water and the chicken feed you just put out all over the floor.
To prevent this place the feeder and the water at the height of a chicken’s back. Ideally, the chickens will have to stretch their necks up to the food a little bit to eat and drink but they will not be able to place their feet in their food or water. Be sure to replace the water and the chicken feed daily.
5. Not Having a Good Light Source:
Build your chicken coop facing the south so that the coop will receive sunlight throughout the day. For the winter months when the days are shorter and there is less sunlight, it is important to install a light in the coop. This is not difficult.
They have lights that you can just stick to the walls at any local hardware store, you do not have to be an electrician, it is as easy as putting a sticker on a paper. Installing this light will be well worth the few dollars you spend to do it. It will keep your chickens warm and happy and production because the chickens get less light and warmth.
6. Not Protecting Your Chickens from the Elements:
Your coop is a haven for your chickens, much like your house is for you. A well-constructed chicken coop will protect your chickens from hazardous elements such as bad weather.
Here are the basics for weatherproofing your coop:
- Make sure the doors and the windows are sealed properly so that do not let a draft in.
- Build the chicken coop on an elevated area where it can be drained easily and the least amount of dampness of the coop.
- Build your chicken coop fencing the fun sun. This will keep the coop dry after it rains and warms when it is cold out.
7. Not Protecting Your Chickens from Predators:
Build a chicken coop not only to protect your flock from the elements but also to protect them from predators. Here are the basics to protect your chickens from predators:
- Do not build the coop near the brush where other animals may live. Gives them easy access to your coop.
- Buy your outside chickens runs with chicken wire. You can lay the wire on the ground and then cover it. This will keep predators such as raccoons, cats, and even dogs from digging underneath the run.
- You can also bury the tighter mesh 12″ deep, which also would also help keep, Racoons, and other predators that like to dig.
- Close Door to Coop or Run at Night – to keep out predators
Chicken / Poultry Breeder Associations
|US Poultry & Egg Association
|American Poultry Association
|Ohio Poultry Association
|National Chicken Council
|British Poultry Council
|Poultry Club of Great Britain
|Association of Poultry Breeders in EU
|Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc
|Australian Poultry Hub