As chicken keepers, it’s our job to ensure the health and safety of our flock. This means taking the necessary measures to prevent or stop predation. You don’t want anything to happen to your flock, especially if they are a part of your livelihood. Some days life can be a little busy, and you might not have time to let your chickens out as early as usual. If this is the case, you might be wondering if it’s safe to leave your coop open at night. The answer to this depends entirely upon how safe your chicken run is and if you have local predators.
Can You Leave A Chicken Coop Open At Night
Yes, as long as there are no predators or their run is safely secured. Chickens have many natural predators and are in danger when exposed without supervision or extra protection.
We’ll take a look at how to keep your chicken coop and run safe so you can feel safe when you accidentally leave the coop door open at night.
The Dangers Of Leaving Your Chicken Coop Open
Leaving your chicken coop open at night or not is a personal choice, but you must be willing to accept missing or dead chickens. Chickens have many natural predators that could seriously harm or kill your chickens if they are left exposed.
Even with protection over the run, there is always a chance a sneaky predator could somehow slip in and cause harm to your flock.
Some chicken owners leave their coops open at night for fear that they won’t be able to let them out early enough in the morning. This is fine as long as you are sure your flock has protection, but chickens will be fine in their coop for a few hours before you get up to let them out.
If you don’t want to risk losing members of your flock the easiest way to keep them safe is by merely closing them up in their coop at night.
Natural Predators To Chickens
Chickens have many natural predators that will seriously injure or harm them if left without protection. If they get into the coop, they can easily kill your chickens or disrupt their sleep.
Although these predators vary depending on your location, the list includes coyotes, foxes, bobcats, weasels, minks, birds of prey, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rodents, snakes, and sometimes even dogs or cats.
Some animals like armadillos won’t kill your chickens, but they will eat the eggs.
Most of these predators are active at night, especially coyotes. However, some of these, like dogs, cats, or hawks, are active during the day.
Patterns of Predation
The Ohio State University Extension provides various way to identify if there has been predation on your chickens:
Missing chicken heads could mean birds of prey or raccoons are the culprit. Your chickens may stick their heads through the chicken wire, exposing them. Raccoons or birds will then hurry over to steal the exposed part of your chicken. Raccoons have also been known to reach through the wire and pull off limbs of chickens.
Wounds around your chicken’s vent or hanging entrails indicate weasels or opossums. They have been known to try to get at your chicken’s intestines. You may also find a chicken carcass with its intestines missing.
Missing birds are usually because of coyotes or birds of prey. If you find a dead chicken a little way away from your coop, it could be a dog.
Whatever you notice, if you’re finding injured, dead, or missing chickens. You must start finding ways to protect your flock better.
How To Critter-Proof Your Chicken Run
If you’ve had some problems with predation or are merely trying to prevent it, there are many ways to make sure predators cannot reach your chickens.
Let’s consider some tips you can use to keep your chickens safe during the day or night.
Clean Your Yard
You can start by removing all things from your yard that might attract animals, such as food, animal feed, fallen fruits, or left out the garbage. By removing these, you can lessen the chance of critters like raccoons seeking out your yard. You can also eliminate all areas you think animals might be hiding, such as woodpiles, empty sheds, or debris.
Motion Sensor Lights
Motion sensor lights can scare away unsuspecting predators. You can place these by your coop or anywhere you think critters are getting in. When they trigger the sensor, the sudden light might be enough to scare them away.
Cover the Windows
Scoop From The Coop recommends covering all windows with sturdy mesh wire with half-inch squares to keep out raccoons and minks out. Concrete coop or run floors can prevent predators from digging their way in. They also suggest filling in all holes or cracks around your coop or run with concrete, wire, or expanding foam. This will ensure even the tiniest critters can’t make their way into your enclosure.
If these methods don’t work, you can completely close in your chicken run, from all sides and from above. You can do this by making a shed-like frame but with walls of sturdy mesh wire. Include a door for yourself to enter and exit.
Train Your Dog
Chicken keepers have also tried, with success, training and utilizing guard dogs to protect their livestock.
The easiest method to keep your flock safe at night is merely closing them up in a safe space, like their coop. Just make sure their coop is also predator-proof.
Chickens have many natural predators and are unsafe if left unprotected for any period, especially at night. Predators such as coyotes, owls, raccoons, opossums, and skunks are very active at night and are very dangerous to your flock.
The easiest way to keep your chickens safe at night is by locking them up in a safe space. This is their coop for most people, but you can also take measures to ensure their run is just as safe. If this is the case, it shouldn’t be a problem to leave the door open at night.
Even so, you must be willing to accept missing or dead chickens occasionally. Predators can be sneaky and get in through places you never even thought to check.
If you decide to leave your coop open at night, you must continuously check for new holes, cracks, or ways predators can get to your chickens to provide the right defense actively.