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Hen bedtime question

Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:39 pm
by Tweetypie
Just a quick question... when your hens go to bed in their coop, do you put feed and water in there, or just close the coop door until morning?

Currently, when mine go to bed, I leave the coop door open, so they can gain access to the secure, enclosed, run for food and water. I do this because I am worried they will become thirsty or hungry before they are let out at 7am.

I noticed that Cindy always sleeps on the perch, but Barbie sleeps at the front, on the floor, right behind the coop door. I am now wondering if she is the "guard hen" because the coop door is open.

Please could someone advise me what best to do?

Re: Hen bedtime question

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:52 am
by Marigold
Don't leave any food or water inside the coop. They will sleep until dawn and then get up and have breakfast when they're ready. Food and water inside the coop can get spilled or contaminated, and as yours are lucky enough not to be shut in after they want to get up, it's just not necessary. It would be like leaving breakfast by a teenager's bed in case he got hungry in the night, without training him or her to get up and go to the kitchen!

Re: Hen bedtime question

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:45 am
by LadyA
Exactly what Marigold said. As you, like me, are lucky enough to have a secure run, and you don't have to shut them into the coop for safety, then you can leave them to go to bed themselves and get up and help themselves to the breakfast buffet!
I'd say the one that's sleeping by the door is simply catching the air! I've noticed (from the poo) that while during the Winter, all mine seem to sleep cuddled up together in a row on a perch leaving a fairly neat row of droppings underneath, these hot nights they seem to sleep as far from each other as they can get! Of course, with the short nights, there isn't a lot of poo in the house in Summer, as the hens go to bed and go out when they want.

Re: Hen bedtime question

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:10 am
by Hen-Gen
The only reason I shut mine in is to stop cockerels crowing at full volume at 4am. At least in their sheds the sound is muffled.

Re: Hen bedtime question

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:49 am
by rick
Wild musings from me - as usual!
Chickens do seem to like the highest perch available. I think this comes from their natural preference for the highest, and safest, branch of a tree that they can get to. Inside a coop there is no perspective to the ground, other than the floor of the coop, so even if it is a long way off the ground outside it doesn't give them the impression that they are high up. Sitting in the doorway feels safer (highest priority position in the pecking order). Being in the middle of the flock also the favored place on a single perch.
I'm guessing that Barbie is boss hen and is taking the most favorable position given the opportunity of the door being open.
When I had my tiny wooden coop which the 'sisters' from the same hatch rapidly outgrew, I took the front off it to give their tails more clearance at the back. It became an open fronted perch and they seemed to really like surveying the ground down below as the sun went down. Mine are now on a sheltered open perch that is about 5 foot off the floor but that brings problems of its own as only the lightest could be trusted to get down from it in the morning without doing themselves an injury. So there is a series of ramps, first up to the nest boxes and then up to the high perch so that Bonnie can waddle her way down safely for breakfast.
Not quite so convenient for morning poop picking as they don't have a coop floor behind them and it drops to the bedding on the floor - i have to search through the litter a bit more which has usually been scratched around a bit by the time I get into the run.

Re: Hen bedtime question

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:40 pm
by Tweetypie
Thanks so much for all the replies. I will do as advised and leave the coop door open so they can access water and food when they get up. The new hens have been in a temporary coop - that plastic playhouse I got as a dust bath area. Hubbie put a perch in there and put on a door with hinges. Tonight is the night, as he has built them their own coop which attaches to the internal run at the opposite end to the other coop. I,ll post a pic later. All 4 hens will share the run but have a separate staircase to their own "wing" 😁 . It will be intetesting tomorrow as they all lay their eggs in the same place 🙄