Why You Need an Automatic Chicken Coop Door.

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.

They laughed.

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 1/4″ 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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Why You Need an Automatic Chicken Coop Door.

63 Comments

  1. Celeste Epstein says:

    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!

  2. Vikki says:

    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.

    • Mary says:

      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?

      • Karen says:

        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!

  3. Scout says:

    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.

    • Karen says:

      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!

  4. Kim says:

    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.

    – Kim

  5. Paula G says:

    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.

  6. Rachel Royce says:

    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!

  7. TucsonPatty says:

    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!

  8. Liz says:

    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!!

    • Karen says:

      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!

  9. Jeni says:

    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

    • Karen says:

      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!

      • Jeni says:

        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!

  10. Melissa says:

    I have lost chickens to predators a few times over the past year . Thanks for the tip. My next chicken purchase!

    • Karen says:

      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!

  11. Agnes says:

    Now absolutely no sign of the Adorstore product on Amazon.ca. You broke Amazon!
    Is that a first?

  12. Dave Boyer says:

    I bought one that attaches to your existing slider door up and down called chickenguard. Works excellently. Solar or battery, I use battery being in the shade. Has a timer for open and close desired times or it will dusk to dawn. Best investment so for except for my chickens that is.

  13. Celeste says:

    I can testify to the wonderfulness of the AdorStore Door! Having to get up so early and put them to bed every night was too much like having young children, and I’m way over that shit. ;-)

    However, recently, due to the crazy weather/storm coming in, it got dark at like 5pm and I was heading out the door. Didn’t see any chickens out, but then again, it was kinda dark. And I’m lazy.

    DD informed me in the morning that 4 (out of 9) very bedraggled and irate chickens accosted her when she went out to check on them. She gave them meal worms. That made it all better.

  14. Linda Huenecke says:

    LOVE your blog! Look forward to it even though it often doesn’t pertain to my life at all (no chickens, 1970’s house) but you do make everything sound fun or at least interesting. You mention in the automatic chicken coop door blog that you installed security cameras on your property. Have you blogged about that? I’ve been baffled by all the security systems out there and would love to hear what works and or doesn’t from someone who seems to have the same (unusual) thought process that I do.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! I haven’t done a post on the security cameras yet. You’re right, there are SO many options. Each with different strengths. I chose to go with Arlo wireless cameras. They’re not the cheapest solution but they’ve been pretty pain free in terms of setup and operation. ~ karen!

  15. My hubby is super-techy and, after researching these expensive doors, he bought an actuator (the part that pushes the door open) and cut a hole in my coop and made that into a door. It. Is. The. Best. Investment a chicken owner could make.

    • Karen says:

      Yup. They’re relatively easy to make! But every once in a while it just isn’t worth it, lol. For me this was one of those times. ~ karen!

  16. Jill Southworth says:

    You are so funny!

  17. Erin says:

    Another thumbs up for the automatic door. Our coop is mobile so – like you said – the auto open/close door works even in the middle of a field with no electricity in sight. We used another brand for several years, but when it gave up the ghost this spring, we ordered the Ador. It’s a great investment that gives us peace of mind and freedom to be away from the farm after dark.

  18. I don’t have an automatic coop door. Instead I’ve got Patch and Chloe. They work 24/7 and protect everyone. Only problem is they eat like horses! Given the cost I think the automatic door would have been way cheaper. No personality though, and you can’t cuddle a door. :)

  19. Jen says:

    DAMMIT. It’s out of stock! :(

  20. Jen says:

    It’s like we are on the same wavelength, man. I was just looking at autoclose/open doors online last night. This one looks great!

  21. Darlene E Meyers says:

    Thanks for the chicken post!

  22. Paula says:

    I love my door opener, too and it wasn’t expensive. It is rigged up with an antenna up and down thingie and uses 2 timers, one for opening and one for closing. Yours sounds much better but the one have have works for me and the chickens. I love my chicken cam too :)

  23. Mike says:

    This is genius, I’ve been on my chicken’s schedule for far too long!

  24. Claire says:

    Do raccoons/foxes never try their chances in the day? What about in the summer when it stays light out until late at night?

    • Karen says:

      Those animals are ruled by the sun rising and setting as well so they don’t start prowling under after dusk, no matter what time of year. Raccoons will wander around looking for food or water during the day but only if they’re desperate. So far no daylight encounters. ~ karen!

      • Kristin Ferguson Smith says:

        I also think a raccoon couldn’t catch a chicken during the day. They can only catch them when they are helpless and asleep. A wakeful chicken is almost impossible to catch.

        • Karen says:

          I was going to write that, lol! But then I remembered the raccoon I watched snatch a squirrel out of a tree and eat it in front of me this summer. That episode has had me rethinking raccoons and their talent! ~ karen

      • Kristin Ferguson Smith says:

        I bought the Ladies First automatic chicken door. It is a life-changer! I have lost hens to predators–closing the coop is such a featureless task that it’s hard to remember if you’ve done it or not. Ladies First is a solar-powered door and the same solar panel is also a light sensor for knowing when to close or open. It closes using a turning shaft so predators can’t lift it up, even with their clever little raccoon hands. It was also easy to install. My chickens free-range in my back yard during the day, and I built a predator-proof run outside of their tiny little coop, so I simply attached the automatic door to the run. I loooooove this door. But yours looks great too, Karen.

    • meredith says:

      A fox feeding kits will absolutely hunt during the day. Both parents are constantly in search of food. I lost six chickens in a month to a fox last summer that visited around 11am. I even confronted it several times, getting in between it and a chicken and that wasn’t enough of a permanent deterrent. It would always come back. Only locking them up for a solid month convinced it to go elsewhere. Also, I have seen a raccoon wandering around with my chickens in the vicinity of the henhouse, partaking in the cat food, not bothering the chickens in the least.

  25. Ian Anderson says:

    Yup. Auto doors are a total no brainer. Mine is 6v too, so I wired it up to an old phone charger, so now I don’t even need to worry about the cells going dead half way through a holiday.

    The auto door combined with a 4 week treadle type feeder and a big water tank with nipples, means we can go on holiday for two or three weeks easily and then the neighbour only has to collect eggs and just keep an eye on things. Brilliant for them (and us).

    • Karen says:

      I do love my treadle feeder as well. The only issue I have with it is making sure their litter doesn’t get under the walk pad of it. I keep the feeder on a patio stone. That seems to help a lot. ~ karen!

  26. Hazel says:

    I’ve thought about one of these but I have ducks too and they are late-night partiers who think they have an infallible predator escape plan so I have to go and shut them in anyway. We have trained them to start shuffling off to their shed when we appear with a torch shouting ‘Bed!’ at them though, so that speeds things up. The chickens are always on their perches already, chuntering about the noise next door.
    Incidentally, the infallible predator escape plan is to sit in the middle of their pond. Which is the bottom of a children’s sandpit so maybe not so infallible, hence the need to shut them in…

    • Yeah Hazel, I hear you on the ducks…they will stay out all night if you let them! (Except for a few time they have shocked us by going to bed by themselves, I thought I was in another dimension!) …And our “teenage chickens” well, they party after dark cause the motion light goes on hahahaa, we have to herd them in when we are tired of hearing their loud parties in the evening and start the head count. Then we have a few of the older girls that like to sleep on the roof that we have to hand pick off every night. I guess if you have “normal” chickens this door would be worth its wight on gold…but my flock is anything but normal! ;-) (By the way, I have a cute little black banty hen named Hazel , she is a rescue and we love her to pieces!)

    • Bunguin says:

      I have very naughty chickens who come ‘home’ to their coop / run but do not go inside it…. they sit on top of it. I have to get them down off the top every. single. night. Or the raccoons will come by and eat them.

      Karen has polite chickns who know the rules – I do not.

      • Carrie says:

        I had this problem with my most recent pullets. I ended up putting chicken wire over the roof of the coop and nest boxes to keep them off. Make sure it kind of poufs up and not flat on the roof or else they will still get up there. Once I took it off a few months later they get up there to preen and then make their way into the coop at dusk. At least they no longer sleep up there!

    • Karen says:

      Ducks. Always the troublemakers. ~ karen!

    • Beckie says:

      I have visions of the mob from Frankenstein coming out after your chickens! LOL…thanks for the unintended chuckle!

  27. Patricia - former chicken owner :( says:

    That chicken coop is a thing of beauty. And the door is genius. It does my heart good to know your chickens are so well cared for.

  28. Linda Ann Smutz says:

    Best invention ever !

  29. Katherine Carino says:

    We invested in an automatic chicken coop door over a year ago and it has changed my life! No more waking up in the wee hours of the morning to get the girls out or fearing that I might forget to close them up at night. Mine goes up at the crack of dawn and closes 20 minutes after sunset. A complete game changer!

  30. Laura says:

    There are virtually no late night party animals that are chickens. There just aren’t. I’ve had a few freethinking chickens that will try and bed down elsewhere, though.

  31. karen tomlinson says:

    This may be a silly question – but do they always go in at dusk? what happens if one is left in the yard after dark, locked out to the wiles of raccoons, skunks & groundhogs.

    • Karen says:

      They always go in at dusk. They have a primal urge to feel safe (which is why they roost off of the ground when they sleep). BUT if one of them does happen to stay out after dusk, you can program the door for “late comers”. It will close at dusk, and a little while later will open and close for any stragglers. :) You an also set the timer on it to come on just before dusk or just after depending on your chicken’s habits. ~ karen!

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