Automatic chicken coop door in your poultry is one of the coolest, time saving hacks you can ever learn as a poultry keeper.
An automatic chicken door is every chicken keepers dream!
You can rest your chicken heart knowing you won’t have to worry about getting up at the early mornings to let the girls out. You can take a stroll knowing they will be safely locked in while you are away.
Plus, aside living a stress-free life, you know your coop is predator proof too.
What’s not to like?
Automatic chicken house doors have been around for a few years now, so we thought we would take a look at them and see what options there are for you and your hens.
We are not going to review every product available today, our next post will be focused on that but we assure you that a general overview of what are available, problems you might face and helpful hints and tips from our experience using them.
As with all things, some work better than others, others are simple, some are “high tech” and then there are those that smart people have created for themselves.
So here we go – everything you ever wanted to know about chicken doors and never thought to ask.
All You Need to know About Automatic chicken door
Our Pick: All in One
THE BEST AUTOMATIC CHICKEN COOP DOOR OPENER & DOOR KIT
What to Know Before Purchasing
There are a couple of things to remember, or think about, before you purchase your hen house door opener, or you might end up with something that is not helpful to you or your hens.
As they can be costly, you need to exercise extra care when shopping for automatic chicken coop door that best suits your needs; this is where this guide comes in!
CHECK OUT: Flubenvet for Chickens
As an example
There are producers that sell just the the control box (i.e. door opener) and the door is sold separately or there are ‘all in one’ combination units with the control box and door. Read the advertisement carefully, you need an ‘all in one’ unit unless you are prepared to either pay a lot more or make your own door.
If it seems much cheaper than other models – ask yourself why? Most all in one (i.e. combination) models are priced between the range of $200-400.
- Ease of operation (e.g. fail safe and manual override).
- Wide range of operating temperatures – down to below zero is optimal.
- Slow, gentle closure (i.e. not a gravity-based closing mechanism) with a 30 second cycle time.
- Wire is safely secured from rodents (and chickens).
- Waterproof control unit.
- Adjustable timer or light sensitivity for control box.
- Warranty and customer service.
There are four main purchasing decisions you need to consider:
- Power Source for your Control Box
- Type of Control Box
- Opening Mechanism
- Door Weight
Each chapter below will explore these components and share our experience on types and designs you will require.
Automatic Chicken Coop Door Review Table
Power Sources for Automatic Chicken Doors
The control boxes on coop door units can be powered by four different sources:
- Mains electric
- A combination of all three
Battery Power is the way to go!
A lot of us do not have power supplies near our coops; as a result, most control boxes are battery powered.
Battery power is a reliable source (and a constant one for that matter) where you don’t have to check anything much expect the control box to ensure it is functioning. Batteries also prevent against power outages and most good control boxes have low battery indicators so you know when to replace them.
The only bad side here is battery life.
You should expect to get 6-9 months from 4 AA batteries. Whilst this is relatively short-lived, it’s more than offset by the advantages of having an automated coop door.
Solar power is a great option for those of you who are off-grid.
It’s also great if you have your chickens in pasture and it’s far away from electric source or the house.
However, solar power can be a ‘spotty performer’ in areas that don’t have several days of sunshine, or in the Northern Hemisphere winter months.
Our Pick: All in One
THE BEST AUTOMATIC CHICKEN COOP DOOR OPENER & DOOR KIT
Programmable Control Boxes (Light Sensors Vs. Time Based)
There are 2 widely used modes for door operation:
- Light Sensor (Sometimes with time-based failsafe options).
- Timer Based (i.e. Clock).
Light sensor operated doors open at sunrise and close at dark or dusk.
Because they are light sensitive, ensure no light trigger the door to open at night. Think motion detector light or very bright moonlight, even passing car headlights- nothing like letting the coyote into the henhouse!
We all know predators are smart, they watch for weaknesses and patterns. Once Mr. Coyote knows that your girls are up at 6am sharp and you are nowhere to be seen, he may be bold enough to strike.
You will have to place the sensor carefully on a west facing wall to catch the morning sun. Some deft placements can delay the opening of the door if you don’t want them out at sunrise.
The other option is a timer-based solution. Some light sensor mechanisms are fitted with an emergency fail safe option which is triggered by a timer-based mechanism.
So, if the chicken automatic chicken coop door hasn’t been opened by 8AM then open the door.
A timer-based option, without a light sensor, is our favorite solution as it is cheaper, affordable and programmable.
One big pro to using the program or override feature is that you can vary the opening time based on season or day or need.
You will have to periodically adjust the program timing as the days get longer or shorter.
Our Pick: Control Box
AUTOMATIC CHICKEN COOP DOOR CONTROL BOX
The opening and closing of the coop door has different power sources, mechanisms or programmable controls.
The mechanism can be either a:
- Motorized Lift and Close
- Motorized Lift and Gravity Close
Always pick a motorized lift and close for a well-controlled open and close of the coop door.
The motorized lift and close should have a positive stop or electric eye to stop against injury or harm to your hens.
Commonly, it should have a small lip in front of the positive stop to prevent predators from sliding open the coop door.
What Size Door Do You Need?
The next step is to consider the size of the “pop” door.
Some units come in one standard size (12” x 15”); this is great for most breeds. Larger birds may not be able to squeeze through smaller holes!
If this is the case, a simple solution is to use an aluminum door. An aluminum door will cut the load on the motor as it can reduce the weight of the door by up to 90%.
A typical coop door can weigh 4KG, however, an aluminum counterpart, measuring the same size, will be 0.3KG. Typically, cheaper automatic openers will raise and lower doors of up to 1KG in weight. Better, more robust motors will raise a 4KG coop door and not strain themselves.
It is important you do not strain the motor if really you want a smooth operation of the door.
A couple of models have different sizes for the pop door entrance, so be sure what size door you require before you buy.
Our Pick: All in One Integrated
THE BEST INTEGRATED AUTOMATIC CHICKEN COOP DOOR OPENER & DOOR
Common Problems with Automatic Coop Doors
Whilst researching the best automatic coop door, and having used them for plenty of years, you will discover some common problem areas with specific units or brands:
- Avoid cheap, poorly manufactured automatic chicken coop door, this can lead to electric issues and potentially your coop remaining open to predators should the door fail.
- Avoid gravity lowered doors and always buy a motorized raise and lower door. Gravity lowered doors can cause harm and stress to your hens if they get trapped.
- If you are from or stay in areas where the temperature can regularly drop below freezing, it’s best to avoid using these mechanisms as they can simply freeze and refuse to run.
Automatic Chicken Coop Doors 101 Summary Table
•Battery (Typically 4 x AAs)
|We recommend battery power to prevent against power outages and solar failures. Battery power should last between 6-9 months and should have a low battery indicator.|
|Programmable Control Box||•Timer Based (i.e. Clock)|
•Light Sensor Based
|A timer-based mechanism that controls for opening and closing the coop door which can be adjusted based on daylight and days is the best option. Light sensors, even if they are adjustable, can fail too often due to cloudy days, shade and changes in the atmosphere.|
|Opening Mechanism||•Motorized lift and close|
•Motorized lift and gravity close
|Pick a motorized lift and close unit; ideally with an electric eye to prevent lowering jams or your hens being trapped in the door. Ideally, include a positive stop with a small lip to prevent against predator intrusion.|
|Generally, cheaper units will lift doors of up to 1KG in weight. Better, more robust units, will easily raise a 4KG coop door. You can also use an aluminum door to reduce the load on the motor.|
|Installation Type||•Control Box|
•Combination Unit (Control Box and Door)
|It’s advisable to purchase the combination unit to prevent against poor installation and an over-worked motor due to an excessively heavy door.|
If you are the inventive sort and have made your own automatic door, please tell us about it, we love hearing from you. Or if you have any experience with automatic chicken coop doors, let us know in the comments section below…
How Big Does A Chicken Coop Door Need To Be?
There is no specific range of sizes for your chicken door. The door should be a minimum of 8 inches wide and up to 12 inches tall. My suggested size comes from experience building a coop and the book Poultry House Construction.
Does a chicken coop need a door?
Yes, it is! As long as you plan on keeping chickens for a couple of years. Plus, it helps you sleep late or get home late or even go away overnight and the system is automated – so your mind is at PEACE!
Should I insulate a chicken coop?
To build a chicken coop properly insulating the walls is very important. The walls of the chicken coop need to have good insulation installed. This will help keep the chickens warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
What do I Need For My Chicken Coop?
First, you will need a chicken coop. It has to hold water and feed containers, as well as a nest box for every 3 hens. It should be big enough that you can stand in it to gather eggs and shovel manure comfortably.
How Often Do You Have To Clean Out A Chicken Coop?
Once or twice a year or less, you clean the coop out. The resulting material can mostly be used directly as compost, though if you notice a few spots that are fresher than others, you might need to add sand to make scooping easy.
How do I keep my chicken coop clean?
Give the walls, floors, roosts, and nesting boxes a good spray down to remove the fine dust and soften any stuck-on manure or dirt. Do a final sweeping/scraping of any remaining, softened dirt or manure, then allow the water to drain, or sweep it out the door.
Do chickens need an enclosed coop?
Chicken coops usually contain nests for roosts for dozing and laying eggs in. Waterers and feeders are sometimes kept in the coop, but if your coop is very small, you may prefer to keep them in a sheltered area of the run. The “run” is a fenced or enclosed outdoor yard space you give your flock.
Now that you know so much about automatic chicken coop door, make sure you share the news!