Listen to me right now. If you're new (or old school) to chickens you NEED an automatic chicken coop door. It'll save their lives and maybe more importantly - your ability to sleep in past 6 a.m.
The other night as I was staring into the refrigerator willing it's contents to change into stacks of leftover pizza, I heard a bit of action coming from the chicken coop. Being 11 o'clock at night, and chickens notoriously early-to-bedders I knew what I was hearing wasn't chickens.
Shoving my feet into my chicken coop shoes, I shuffled out the back door and looked around the corner into the coop run. There, hanging by their nails from the hardware cloth enclosing the coop was a family of raccoons. Some were climbing up the cloth and others were pulling with all their might to try and get it off. I was not the only one looking for a snack that night.
I threw pea gravel at them.
I went back inside. The raccoons would give up soon enough. The hardware cloth is screwed in every few inches and even though I'm always a bit worried, there's very little chance a raccoon is going to be able to rip it off. Unless the raccoon did Crossfit obviously.
10 years into owning chickens and I have never lost a single one to a predator. I've lost them to egg yolk peritonitis, an embedded crop and Roosterism, but never to a predator. Part of that is because of the ¼" hardware cloth the coop is enclosed in. The other part is the automatic chicken coop door.
Automatic Coop Door
After a few go rounds with less than ideal chicken coop doors, I came across the Ador Coop door. (NOT a sponsored post, I just think this really is the best automatic coop door) I was really hesitant to buy it since it was made in America and I had to pay duty, tax, shipping costs to Canada and the exchange rate on it.
It was already expensive, but adding in all of those things made it even more so. But as far as automatic openers went it seemed like the best.
I cut some of my costs by self clearing it with UPS. If you're Canadian and you don't know how to self clear an item with UPS you need to read this post immediately. You can completely eliminate UPS's stupid, made up broker and import fees just by picking up your package yourself from a depot.
So why this door? It's handmade by a couple of guys in the States, not in some Chinese warehouse. It's entirely galvanized metal, no plastic and best of all - it requires no electricity. It runs off of a 6 volt battery which lasts for over a year. You can put this door in a chicken coop that's in the middle of a field with no electricity in sight. THIS is partly what makes this particular model so great. It's run with battery power.
The battery is housed in the bump at the top of the coop door that looks a little like an awning.
This automatic chicken coop door has worked unfailingly for the past 5 years.
Since first installing it the price has gone up on the Ador but there are a slew of cheaper automatic chicken coop door openers on Amazon. I can't guarantee how well they work or hold up because I haven't used one other than my Ador door.
Most chicken coops have a "pop door", which is just a small door that only the chickens use. They're about 12" x 12" and a few inches off of the ground. The reason your coop needs a pop door is so the chickens can come and go as they like without having to leave a big "man door" open all day.
How do automatic chicken doors work?
Automatic coop doors have a small motor in them that when triggered will start to run. With automatic coop doors the winding pulls the door up to let the chicken out and pulls the door down to close them in.
In the case of coop doors the trigger is either a timer or a light sensor. The Ador coop door has a light sensor so when the sun comes up, it will open in the morning. When the sun goes down, it will close.
The motor is powered either by electricity, a battery or a solar panel.
Mine can be adjusted slightly so I have it open just after sunrise and close right at dusk. I never have to worry about getting home by dark to make sure the coop door is closed.
That used to be an ordeal.
Before installing the coop door, if I was going out during the day and knew I wouldn't be home until after dark I'd either have to lock the chickens up in the coop before I left, leaving them bored in the coop for the rest of the day, or I'd have to ask a neighbour to come over and close the coop door as soon as it got dark.
I can actually go on vacation for a couple of days now without needing anyone to let the chickens in or out! Not that I do that, but I could. It's a possibility.
Since installing the automatic door I never have to get up at the crack of dawn to let the chickens out because they're screaming at the top of their lungs to go outside and play. As soon as the sun rises, so does the coop door. And I get to sleep until my cat starts screaming at the top of her lungs.
And as soon as the sun goes down, yup, the coop door goes down too.
Which is a good thing. I had no idea how much was going on out there during the night until I set up security cameras around my house. The coop run has its own camera and this summer alone I spotted raccoons, a groundhog, skunks, opossums and mice all wandering through the chicken run at 3 in the morning looking for an open restaurant.
This door will do more than anything to protect your chickens from predators.
Sorry you bandity little raccoons. The kitchen is closed. Until dawn.
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Now absolutely no sign of the Adorstore product on Amazon.ca. You broke Amazon!
Is that a first?
I know. :/ They sold out. If you go to your website you should be able to order from there. ~ karen!
I have lost chickens to predators a few times over the past year . Thanks for the tip. My next chicken purchase!
I can't even imagine. I've had a few scares where I can't find a chicken in my small coop and run and figure they've been taken and it's TERRIFYING. (they've usually escaped the run and are in my backyard eating all the hostas) ~ karen!
Love your blog! We are new to chickens this year & this is our first winter (in South Texas, so lows are 20F) but we got an early cold front this week & I think they want a heater (I researched it last year and decided they’re ok without, but now I’m not sure.) What do you think of flat panel heaters? I’m guessing Canada has better advice on staying warm in winter... Thanks!
I found this one on amazon:
Cozy Products Safe Chicken Coop Pet Heater 200W Flat Panel Technology, One Size, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX9K1JI/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_0PRXBb75ZDXKG
Hi Jeni! At those temperatures your chickens really don't need a heater. :) Unless you happen to have a rare tropical breed of chicken that doesn't do well with the cold. Basically with a heater all you're doing is maintaining a temperature in the coop that will prevent them from getting frostbite, you aren't warming it up to something you or I would consider cozy. Read this post I wrote on winterizing a chicken coop. It has a bit more explanation and then you can decide if you think the flat panel heater is necessary. https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/winterize-a-chicken-coop/ ~ karen!
Thanks, Karen! I read your winterizing post just now... No heater. Got it. I did put up some foam mats to block some wind (our coop is more of a hardware cloth run... with months of 3-digit temps, any enclosure is bad). I’m a wuss with cold anything - I probably should be embarrassed by the fact that the ‘cold front’ that has us freezing this week dropped us into the 50s ... Go ahead and laugh, it’s ok. ;) Thanks again!
I got the Ador1 and installed it this weekend. It is wonderful!! Raccoons broke through our last coop door:( I was stressing out about a solution, and then I saw your post. Thank you!!
Oh that's great! Because of the way it's built it would be very hard (if not impossible) for a raccoon to infiltrate it. ~ karen!
It always amazes me how much enjoyment I get out of reading every post and every comment. No matter what the subject matter and how little I know about it and how little I need to know about it, it’s still so interesting.
I love everyone else’s take, on what ever subject you are teaching us, today, Karen!
Bunch of interesting folks out there in the world!
You convinced me. I clicked the affiliate link, ready to go for a Father's Day present rationalization for the purchase. Affiliate link says it is not currently available for purchase. Disappointed!
Hi Rachel. Try the actual Ador Store website. ~ karen!
We bought a German number some several years ago and love it. It's also on a light sensor, only it's programmed to open up again after dark to let stragglers in and then close again. It also operates on a battery which my husband changes once a year. Between the door, the giant water barrel, and the capacious pellet and oyster shell feeders, we can leave the chickens for two weeks at a time if we wanted. Eventually I'll build a drop away nest box so we can do that. We still have to get someone to come fetch eggs, (which is usually not a problem.
Re: raccoons.....hate the little buggers. HATE THEM! They are the only animal that will kill chickens for sport. I built my hen house and coop so fortress-like, I had to name it Hensdeep. You know, for the Riders of Ro-hen. I also keep a spading fork by the back door and will go after raccoons that come in the yard. That's because one of my idiot neighbors feeds raccoons on his deck out of, get this, galvanized garbage can lids. One night I was over there for bunco and there were two mamas and seven babies. That's a raccoon for every house on our cul de sac. I have fought raccoons in the yard, I have fought raccoons on the fence. They are nasty, distemper-ridden little cretins, and I really, really hate them.
BYW, I hear they make good eating if braised.
SO LAUGHING at Hensdeep & Riders of Rohen :) Thank you for the giggles.
Ah! We click on three levels: The Art of Doing Stuff, the LOTRs Trilogy, and bad puns.
In my view, bad puns is the most important level. I love me a bad pun.
Karen, this is Amazing information. Thank you. Finally I live in a place where I can get chickens, or maybe runner ducks. Fully aware that racoons are everywhere I am so grateful to you for sharing your experiences.
You're welcome Kim. Good luck with getting chickens!! ~ karen
Thank you so much for this post! I have been gearing up to make a pop door but couldn't decide what to do. Our coop does not have power so I am ecstatic to find an American-made door that is automatic.
I just placed my order for Ador1. They should give you a commission!
Yes! Yes they should. ;) ~ karen!
Do you have to winterize this in any way? Ice and raining sideways are my concerns. My car windows need TLC in February. Does this? Does the battery stand up to wicked cold? PS: I really like your chicken photos. They look happy......no....entitled and in charge. Kinda diva.
Hi Scout. I haven't had to winterize it at all. But the coop is in a slightly protected area because it isn't hugely open. It does get all kinds of Canadian cold, snow, freezing rain etc. and it's always been fine. The battery has never died prematurely, but I do replace the battery at the beginning of every winter. ~ karen!
Did you ever think you would be the poster child for Normalcy? While the rest of the world is running around "the sky is falling, the sky is falling", you give us chicken doors. Thank you. Seriously--thank you.
I'm getting my coop ready and don't have chickens yet; but I'm wanting to know how do all the chickens get in before the door closes?
Hi Mary. Chickens automatically go to bed when they sense it's starting to get dark. The door closes after that. You can also program it to open and close once more just in case a chicken happens to stay out extra late (which has only happened to me once). ` karen!
Another thumbs up for AdorStore! I am generally a late sleeper and lazy to boot, so if I had to open and shut the girls in I wouldn't have chickens. I think the battery that's in my door has been in for 2 years, maybe more. When I have had an issue or a question about the door the guys here in Texas are prompt, knowledgeable, and helpful!
Thanks for letting everybody know about this brilliant invention!