Do automatic chicken doors work? An In-depth look at automated coop doors

An In-depth look at automated coop doors

With an automatic chicken door, you do not have to worry about your chickens getting out of the coop in the morning and getting locked in the evening. 

They will be securely locked in at night and automatically let out in the morning when the automatic chicken doors open according to the time you have set. 

Is there a need for an automatic chicken coop door?

When I started keeping poultry, I had no idea of the amount of work involved. This included opening for them in the morning and closing the coop door in the evening. 

Each time we would go out late, I would be very worried that a raccoon or stray cat would get to the chickens. 

This also meant that we could not enjoy time out late as a family. We were also not able to spend nights outs. 

Chickens had become part of our lives. We had to make sure that they are well taken care of without being a necessary inconvenience. 

This is where an automatic chicken coop door comes in.

What is an automatic chicken door? 

An automatic chicken coop door is a small latch that opens and closes at set times to allow the chicken in and out of the coop. They have a microcontroller that stores time setting for closing and opening the door. Automatic chicken coop doors require a source of power for them to operate. This can be changeable batteries, electricity from the mains, or solar power. 

In this guide, I will take you through the ins and outs of automatic chicken coop doors, starting with why you should consider getting an automatic door for your coop.

Where to buy automatic chicken doors

You can buy automatic chicken doors on amazon, where you can compare their different features and pricing. You can also buy automatic chicken coop doors directly from the manufacturer’s websites. Examples include ChickenGuard and Omlet. 

Door Manufacturer WebsiteAmazon Store
Happy henhouse automatic chicken coop doors. store on Amazon
Chicken Guard automatic chicken coop doors store on Amazon
Omlet automatic chicken coop doors
ChickenDoors automatic chicken doors
Brinsea automatic chicken coop door store on Amazon
Where to buy automatic chicken coop doors

Advantages of automatic chicken coop doors

  • You do not have to let the chickens out in the morning

The early bird catches the worm. 

With an automatic chicken door, you will not have to wake up early in the morning to let out your chickens so that they can catch the worm. 

All you need is to set the open time on the door. It will do the rest of the work.  

  • You do not have to let the bird in the evening

Automatic coop doors free you from the worry of having to lock in your chickens in the evening. This means you can enjoy the evening out with friends and family. 

You do not have to rush home as the chickens will be safely locked in automatically when the sun goes down or according to the time you have configured on the automatic chicken door. 

  • You can schedule other things around dusk and dawn. 

Not having to open and close in your chicken’s will enable you to do other things in the morning and evenings.

 Life is not all about chickens. 

With an automatic chicken door, you can be productive in other areas of your life. 

  • Trips are possible without having to get someone to sit your chickens. 

Vacations and other trips that take several days will be possible when you have an automatic chicken door.  

Combined with automatic feeders and waterers that can hold large amounts of feed and water, it is possible to leave for several days, without having to get someone to sit your chickens.

 If you are worried that the automation will fail, you can get someone who will come check on the chickens one or two hours a day, instead of having someone stay in all the days you will be away. 

  • Birds are secure from nighttime predators.

Most predators are more active at dusk and dawn. If you are late in closing your chickens, a predator might just have its lucky day.

 An automatic chicken coop door will minimize the chances of this happening, as it will never be late. It will work according to the configured time settings. 

  • Low cost of maintenance

Automatic chicken coop doors are low maintenance. Other than changing the batteries about every 6 months, you might never need to do any maintenance activity for years. 

This will be the case if you have purchased a high-quality automatic door.

  • Low operating costs (in some cases zero operating costs)

Other than the cost of changing batteries every 6 to 9 months, automatic chicken doors have very low costs.

If your automatic door is powered from the mains, the power bill will not be affected much, as they consume very little amount of power. 

If using solar, in an area where your panels can get charged over winter and cloudy days, the cost of operating an automatic coop door will be zero!

Components of automatic chicken coop doors

Automatic chicken coop doors consist of mandatory and optional components. There are

  1. Door
  2. Frame
  3. Operator arm (actuator)
  4. Controller
  5. Light sensor
  6. Pulley string
  7. Power connector
  8. Battery holder
  9. Rechargeable 12v battery
  10. Hinges, fasteners, and mounting brackets 
  11. Manual override switch
  12. Solar panel 

Types of automatic chicken coop doors

Automatic chicken doors are categorized based on the mode of operation(mechanism for opening and closing), the power source, and the type of door.

  1. Automatic coop doors based on the power source. – Automatic chicken doors operate using power from batteries, solar, or mains electricity. Using this as means of categorization we have:-
  • Battery power automatic chicken coop doors.
  • Mains-powered automatic chicken coop doors.
  • Solar-powered automatic chicken coop doors.
  • Mains-powered automatic chicken coop doors with battery fallback. 
  1. Automatic coop doors based on the mode of operation – Automatic coop doors open and close differently. 
  • Motor opens and closes the door – with this mechanism, the motor opens and closes the door. 
  • Motor opens the door, gravity closes the door – with this mechanism, the motor opens the door, but lets the force of gravity do the closing. This means it just loosens and lets the door close under its own weight.
  1. Type of door – Automatic chicken coops doors can be a sliding door or a swinging door. These will have different connectors and motors because the doors operate differently.
  • Swinging door automatic chicken coop door – the swinging doors use the traditional door on hinges. The doors can open vertically or horizontally, depending on the placement of your door. Most swinging automatic coop doors come with just the opening and closing motor and an operator arm (actuator) that pulls and closes the doors according to the setting on the controller. 
  • Sliding door automatic chicken coop door – the sliding automated coop door comes with a door that slides on a groove and has a slip at the end. The motor pulls or pushes the door, with an operator arm (actuator) or a pulley string system. Also known as guillotine-style doors, these doors can either close or open based on gravity or motor action. 

How do automatic chicken coop doors work?

How do automatic chicken doors work? Automatic chicken coop doors work in a combination of mechanical and automated action. Automatic doors have a controller that automates opening and closing. A motor, in combination with an operator arm (actuator) or string, is responsible for the mechanical opening and closing. The motor ad controller is sometimes packaged in one casing. The opening and closing are triggered by either set times, dawn or dusk (via light sensors), or and manual override by either a button or via a mobile application (for wifi-connected automatic coop door). The mechanical arm or string is attached to the door and opens and closes the door by pulling or pushing it. 

Things to consider when choosing an automated chicken coop door. 

When purchasing an automatic chicken door, there are several things you need to pay close attention to. This will make sure that the door will work for you and your chickens. 

  1. Size of the door.
  2. Sensors are included in the package.
  3. Controller box with multiple programmable methods.
  4. Power source.
  5. Operating temperatures.
  6. Material.
  7. How the door opens and closes.
  8. Safety features.
  9. Ease of use.
Chickens roosting on an automatic chicken coop pop door. An automatic chicken coop door that can detect objects that might obstruct it from closing is a safety feature to look for when purchasing an automatic chicken coop door

How do you make a chicken coop door automatic?

You might have a pop door already in your coop. Making it automatic is a simple task that will take a couple of hours. To make your chicken coop door automatic, you will need to buy the controller, motor, and operator’s arm (actuator), with all the accompanying fasteners and cables. The good thing is you will not have to buy the door, since you already have one. Automatic coop door components work better with a square door or one that is close to a square. If your door is not close to this shape, you might need to make a few adjustments, mainly resizing the door, so that it can work perfectly with the operator arm (actuator).

Are automatic coop doors safe?

One of the biggest concerns is the safety of automatic chicken coop doors. The main concerns are if the automatic door might hurt your chickens or the automatic door might fail to close or open

  • An automatic chicken coop door might hurt your chickens. 

On the top of my safety concerns was if the door would hurt chickens if they got on the way when the door is closing. For some reason, chickens love to perch on pop doors. This issue has been addressed by including an obstruction detector on the automatic doors that detect if there is something on its path when it is closing. If there is anything obstructing the door, the controller stops the close operation, opens, and repeats the close operation again after some minutes. This ensures that your chickens are not guillotined by the automatic coop door. 

  • The automatic chicken door might fail to open or close

The second concern is if the door will actually close and open at the time it is supposed to open. This issue is addressed by a feature in automatic coop doors that allow for a fallback close and opens. If the door primarily closes and opens based on light sensors and for some reason it fails to, it fallbacks to the time settings. This means if the door, for some reason failed to open at dawn, when there is enough light, it will open at the set time, let say 8:30 am. Similarly, if the door fails to close at dusk, it closes at a set time, let’s say 8 pm.  Some doors have wifi connections where you can monitor it from your phone. If it fails to open or close, you can open or close it from your phone.

Do Automatic Chicken Doors Work?

Do chicken coops work? Will they be worth the trouble and cost or are they another fading fad? Many users of backyard chicken doors have found them not only beneficial in their poultry keeping endeavor but also has helped them live a better quality of life, together with their chickens. They do not have to let life’s events pass them as they take care of poultry. 

What If the Chickens Don’t Get Inside Before the Automatic Door Closes?

Chickens getting locked out of the coop has been an issue with automatic chicken doors. One or two chickens will not get in time when the door closes. This has been the case where the coop closes and opens based on the light sensor. It might also change with seasons when the chickens are adjusting t shorter light days or longer night days. 

One solution to this issue of chickens being locked out is to get a coop door that has delayed close settings. Basically, the door will delay closing after dark for the set amount of time, let’s say 30 minutes. This will give your chickens ample time to get into the coop in time. 

Another solution to this issue is to permanently override the light sensor and depend entirely on the configured close times. This means the later comers can come in a bit late.

Whichever solution you go for, you will need to monitor the behavior of your chickens so that you can set the delay close time and the configured close times well. Remember these times might change with seasons. 

Remember that night predator are active at dusk. You will need to secure the chicken run if your chickens are coming in late.

How Big Does My Automatic Chicken Coop Door Need To Be?

The size of the automatic chicken coop pop door may vary depending on the type of poultry you keep. A rule of thumb is to go for a big-size automatic coop door of at least 12 inches square so as to accommodate all sizes of chickens. If you are keeping turkeys, you will need to get an automated door that is 20 inches wide.

Challenges associated with automatic chicken coop doors

There are a few drawbacks to automatic chicken coop doors.

  • Cost

The initial cost of automatic chicken coop doors can make you think twice before getting one. 

This expenditure is worth it because the automatic coop door saves you time, gives you peace of mind, and above all keeps your chickens safe, even when you are busy elsewhere.

  • Possibility of technical malfunction

As with any other technical device, there is always the possibility that it will not function as required at all times. 

This can mean that the door will not open or close as desired. High-quality doors will come with failsafe such as obstruction sensors that will detect if a chicken is at the doorway. This means it will stop closing, and restart the closing function all over again. 

They also have a backup closing setting where in the event they do not close in reaction to the light sensor, they can fall back to the closing time settings. 

Some automatic chicken doors have wifi connections, where you can check if it is closed or opened from your mobile phone. You can then intervene and control it from the phone, even when you are away from home.

You can also install wifi cameras in your chicken coop. This allows you to actually see if the coop door is open and closed, in the warmth of your house or when enjoying that much-needed time away with family over the weekends

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About James

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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