Since our chickens are true free range chickens, we were always worrying about being home to lock the chickens in the coop at night. For a long time I was interested in an automatic coop door so that they could safely be tucked away even when we were gone. I also like the idea of the coop door opening automatically in the morning. We finally made the investment and I am so glad we did.
This is a great idea for off the grid folk and those that just want to get a little extra sleep in the morning. We settled on a controller from Fleming Outdoors made by Pet Auto Doors.
This motor is simple to use and it has multiple modes of operation. It can run on four AA batteries, a wall outlet, or the optional solar panel. The solar panel is ideal for those off the grid.
You can buy the motor and door or you can just buy the motor. We purchased just the motor so we could save money by making a custom door. The controller allows you to set the times to open and close. You can also adjust how far you want to open and close the door. It even has a program that can track the sun and open and close it at sunrise and sunset with the use of a solar panel.
Installation of the motor is quite simple. Just open the cover of the motor and there are four holes to screw it to the coop. Installation of the door is pretty straight forward as well.
Knowing that we were going to use a 12″x12″ door, we cut the hole to size on the original door.
We used 2″x¼” wood strips and overlapped them like stairs to make a slot for the door to slide up and down. We were extra mindful that they were parallel with one another and perfectly level with the coop. Since the door only opens vertically, extra care must be taken to make sure everything is lined up and there is no binding or catching.
For a door we used a 1/8″ thick floor tile we purchased for just 69 cents. Being 1/8 inch thick this gives ample room for the door to slide down the 1/4 inch wood strips.
It was a pretty simple and straight forward project. The motor programming is easy to figure out. I am glad to have this extra measure of security for us and our girls. It was a worthwhile investment for us.
At the end of the project we figured out that if we came home after the coop door closed that we did not have assurance that all the chicks were safely in for the night so we added a peep-hole.
Have you used an automatic coop door for your flock?