Chicken coop door comes in handy when you want your beloved flock to remain safe from predatory animals. Racoon, coyotes, weasels, rats and foxes are the animals your chickens need to steer clear off.
So, just making a coop is not enough. The chicken coop of your choice needs to be fortified with a suitable door. When that happens, you can be rest assured that a burrowing or land-based predator shall never get the better of your beloved bird.
Now, you also need to assess whether an automatic or a manual door would be best suited for your chicken’s safety based needs. This is when the decision between an automatic or manual door arises.
Allow me to throw light on what all options are in hand and which ones shall benefit your birds the most:
>>> Click Here to Access DIY Chicken Coop Plans to Build Long Lasting, Attractive and Cost Effective Homes for Your Precious Birds <<<
Chicken Coop Doors Article Contents
1) What is the Ideal Size of a Chicken Coop Door?
2) What is a Manual Chicken Coop Door?
3) What is an Automatic Chicken Coop Door?
4) How to Make an Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener?
5) What is a Solar Chicken Coop Door?
6) What is a Battery Operated Chicken Coop Door?
7) What are the Best Chicken Coop Door Ideas for You?
8) What to Look Out for While Opting for an Automatic Chicken Coop Door?
9) Are There any Problems Related to Automatic Hen Home Doors?
10) My Personal Opinion while Choosing Automatic Doors for Your Chicken Coop
What is the Ideal Size of a Chicken Coop Door?
Chicken coop door size is very important to avoid nagging issues with the coop. Designing these doors is not difficult yet even a minor mistake with regards to the dimension, may cause repairs that are tough to accomplish.
In an ideal scenario, the chicken coop door needs to be about 13 inches in height and 10 inches in width. You also need to ensure that the door is 5 to 7 inches above the ground height. Also, the doors should never swing inwards. They should open outwards.
There are several kinds of doors available to keep your birds safe from predators. These include manual, solar powered, battery powered and automatic. Your budget and choice (the need and comfort factor) determines the type of door you would get installed in your chicken coop.
How Can I Determine the Size of My Chicken Coop Door?
The size of the chicken coop door depends on the size of your coop. it also depends on the level of security that your chicken need in order to remain safe from predators.
Now, you definitely cannot hope to plant the door of your home onto a hen coop. Doing so, would be foolhardy as your bodily dimensions are different from that of your feathered friends.
Moreover, a human sized door shall offer very little protection against weather and predators (with special regards to your flock).
What I Take into Consideration while Choosing a Door for my Chicken Coop?
When I am looking out for a door for my hen house, I take the following points into consideration:
What’s My Breed?
First, I consider the physical dimensions of my chicken. For example, if I have the Bantam breed then, I would keep the width of the door 9.5 inches and the height to about 12 inches.
In case I have the standard chicken breed then, I would keep the door’s width at 10.5 inches. The height of the chicken coop door for a standard sized chicken would be around 13 inches.
If I am rearing large chicken breeds (Brahmas, Langshans, Orpingtons etc.) then, the width of the door shall be 12 inches and the height shall be 14 inches.
Do I have Roosters?
Male chicken is also termed as a rooster. I usually keep roosters to breed my stock. Nonetheless as compared to hens, roosters are slightly larger and far more aggressive.
Hence, they need more space to roam around. They also need a door that is slightly higher than what I would consider for a hen. A rooster is also termed as a cock.
I would personally opt for a door size that is 12 inches in width and 12 inches in height (for my rooster to be comfortable slipping-in and hopping-out).
Do I Stay in Wet or Dry Area?
In case the coop is located in rainy area wherein flooding is common, I shall alter the door height. More the water, higher shall be the height of the coop door and vice versa. The same goes for snowfall affected areas.
At the same time, dry and arid areas need cross ventilation. For this very purpose, I shall be installing a wider door. I may add a window or two for achieving optimal cross ventilation.
In colder areas, I can add curtains to the door. This helps protect the wood against cold weather.
Predators that Inhabit Trees and Shrubs
The next on the list is dangers associated with animals that tend to make a snack out of your precious chicken. These include racoon, weasels, skunks and rats.
So, you need to plan the door width and even height accordingly. In case your coop is well protected against such animals then, you have very less to worry about and vice versa.
Nonetheless, if your flock is threatened by predators then, opt for a thicker door as well. Using lumber is an ideal way to fortify your hen house door.
In case your area has predators such as foxes, hyenas, jackals and wolves then, smaller doors shall be beneficial for your hens. The small size of the opening shall inhibit these predators from entering your coop.
What is a Manual Chicken Coop Door?
A manually operated chicken coop door is one that needs physical energy to open or shut it. So, you need to use your hands and fingers to unlock the door in the morning. Again, you need to use your fingers and arms to lock the door at night.
>>> So, there is no infra-red mechanism to lock and unlock this door.
>>> Such doors are not fortified with solar auto-locking or battery operated locking mechanisms.
>>> You need to be manually present close enough to unlock or lock the door on time.
>>> The usual locking and unlocking work is usually performed first thing during the day and once at nightfall.
What makes Manual Chicken Coop Doors Good for You?
@ In case you do not have deep pockets then, such doors prove to be beneficial. You do not have to buy expensive battery operated ones from the market.
@ If you want to oversee your birds personally then again, a manual door is a better option.
@ The idea of having a manual door for your hen home is wise when you want to ensure that all your birds are in or out of the coop. Such an act may not be possible in an automatic version.
@ Like it or not, when you use this option, you need to exercise your body. So, movement is required. This in turn ensures that you manage to stretch your body and burn more calories.
@ Heck – if you buy any of the online chicken coop door plans, you can build one (the manual one) at a fraction of the original cost.
@ You need not to be a master carpenter to make a door for your hen house.
What are the Drawbacks in Having a Manual Chicken Coop Door?
@ For a starter, you do not have the privilege to keep lying in bed for a few more hours. You have to wake up at the crack of dawn.
@ The manual door needs to be shut at sunset. If you are not at home then, your birds may still be roaming free. This may be rather risky as your hens are prone to being eaten by a racoon or weasel.
@ In case you have a manual door then, it can shut itself. This is rare but accidents can happen. An accidental kick from the foot or a gust of wind can do the damage.
@ A hen or rooster can get hurt when a manual door shuts itself by accident. Getting trapped between the coop and the door can be traumatizing.
@ You need to maintain a strict schedule here. You cannot come home late at night or wake up late in the morning. Adhering to timings here are of vital importance.
What is an Automatic Chicken Coop Door?
As the name very well suggests, an automatic door for your hen home is one that does not need manual operation. Over here, you have a special computer fed mechanism whereby you determine the timings of the opening and closing of the door.
These kinds of doors are best suited for people that have a tight schedule to keep. Rather than heading home each night and closing the door shut, an automatic closure gets the job done.
At the same time, you manage to get the chicken out early in the morning without slipping out of your bed. So, this is best suited for bird owners that are super tight on their daily schedule.
Here is How Automatic Chicken Coop Doors Benefit You?
@ There is absolutely no need to head home at a certain time. You also do not need to wake up early in the morning. Everything is handled perfectly and effortlessly by the pre-programmed door.
@ You can have a sensor affixed to the door that works in sync with sunlight. When the sun sets, the door shuts and when the sun rises, the door opens.
@ This door can be opened and shut as per your personal convenience as well. It is not essential to open the door at sun-up and shut it at sun-down. Feed the preferred time onto your timer and get the job done.
@ In case you have a late night party to attend then, you need not to skip it. The automatic mechanism of the coop shall take care of the doors at night.
@ Automatic coop doors may help in keeping night time predators at bay.
@ The convenience attached to automated doors is unsurpassed. You do not have to move a muscle to get the job done.
How can Automatic Chicken Coop Doors Prove to be Problematic?
@ You might have to alter the day and night schedule in the United States of America to adhere to Daylight saving hours. This is an added hassle of sorts.
@ At times, some of your birds may remain outside when the door automatically closes at nightfall. This can be a real issue for the safety of your flock.
@ You need to train the chicken to leave the coop at daybreak and return a few minutes before sundown. Failing to do so may result in a few birds missing or falling sick (as they might be stranded outside when the door closes automatically).
@ Automatic doors do not come cheap. You need to have ample funds stowed away to get hold of one.
@ Unless you are trained, you may not be able to build your own automatic hen house door.
@ While the door closes and opens in a slow-motion manner, some birds may get hurt. If they fail to react in time, the door may close in on their body. This usually does not happen as the birds have an in-built natural escape mechanism.
How to Make an Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener?
DIY automatic chicken coop door opener may not seem an easy task yet it is achievable. Well, here are a few simple steps that can help you achieve this aim:
Get the Tools Needed for the Job
First of all, you need to get the tools needed to build an automatic door for your chicken coop. You would need a saw, a drill, glue (preferably both Hot and Super) and finally, a soldering iron.
You would also need an antenna derived from a car, wires, a timer, Volt meter, a 12 volt battery, a ‘C’ Channel made from aluminum, a terminal strip, a regulator and panel (both powered by sunlight) and finally, a switch.
Step # 1:
Get the antenna ready and check the flow of current by using the 12 volt battery.
Step # 2:
Get the C channel prepped by drilling holes in it and screwing it to two equal sized wooden panels.
Step # 3:
Affix the wooden panels to the chicken coop. You need to attach them where the door needs to be. The channel shall help the door open in an ‘up and down’ manner. So, there should be no bend in the panels.
Step # 4:
Create a small bracket on the wooden panel. Place the antenna into the bracket and hold it in place with a tie.
Step # 5:
Attach the timer to the same wooden panel to which is affixed the antenna. So, the bracket needs to be made of similar dimensions.
Simply drill five holes in the bracket – three at the bottom and two at the top. Use these to insert wires that connect the timer to the antenna.
Step # 6:
Mount the antenna into the chicken coop. Use the C Channel wooden bracket for achieving this aim. If the antenna is lengthy, you may cut it to accommodate the height of the coop’s door.
Step # 7:
After measuring the height between the coop’s door (from the bottom up) and the C channel, place plywood to bridge this gap. This is the automatic door that needs to slide up and down using the C channel.
Step # 8:
The next step is to attach the coop’s door to the antenna using a bolt. The bolt needs to be lengthy and it needs to be soldered to keep the antenna in place.
Step # 9:
You need to now attach a battery charger to the door’s antenna. You can use a normal socket based charge or a solar based charger.
My Pick: A solar charge is easy as it is convenient and does not need a wire to be affixed to the wall socket. Simply place the solar panel on top of the coop (where the sun shines the most).
Affix the wires from the panel and the battery to the regulator. To get precise notification on the power used and needed to run the door, attach a volt meter to the solar panel.
What is a Solar Chicken Coop Door?
When you use the power derived from sunlight to power the door of your chicken coop then, it is termed as a solar door. The best part here is the ability to build your own solar powered doors. This helps your chicken coop stay off the grid and your birds remain happy and energized forever.
Nonetheless, you do need to know the basics on solar power, the art of wiring the doors to solar panels and then, maintaining the final product. All this may sound tough in the beginning but in reality, it is a fairly easy job to accomplish.
Well, here is how you can build your own DIY solar powered door for your hen house:
What all do You Need?
>>> You would need a frame enclosed photovoltaic panel. It should be 50 watt with 12 volts power delivery. This is an ideal figure. We can go down 10 watts but the 12 volt power delivery remains same.
>>> A special battery box to keep the PV panel safe from winds, snow, rain, hail etc.
>>> You would need a car battery. This is a 12 volt lead acid battery.
>>> To ensure that the battery does not get overcharged or undercharged, you need a solar charge controller. The charge control is essential to increase the lifespan of the battery.
>>> In case you have not purchased a solar powered kit then, you would need a few varieties of wires.
>>> You need a bulb as well. Make sure it is LED and of low ampere.
>>> In case your solar power set up is based on direct current then, an inverter is not required. Nonetheless, if your set up is based on alternate current then, in order to convert it to direct current, you would need an inverter.
Step by Step Instructions on How to Make a DIY Solar Panel Door:
Get Hold of a PV Panel:
The very first step is to get your hands onto PV panels. Without these solar panels, you simply cannot hope to get started. So, spend as little as possible to remain within budget.
I would recommend spending no more than $500. An ideal PV panel should be of 50 watts and be able to produce 12 volts of power. You may even opt for a 24 watt power delivery mechanism if your coop is large in size.
Place it On the Slanting Roof:
The solar panel of your choice now needs to be mounted atop the roof of the hen house. I would recommend going in for an A-Frame chicken coop design. This structure allows your panel to be set at an angle of your choice.
Make sure that the PV panel is mounted at an angle that receives the maximum amount of sunlight. So, establish your time zone and the degree at which the sun rises.
Place the PV panel onto the roof of your chicken home accordingly. You may also opt for settings that alter the PV panel angle as per the changing season. Make adjustments to the angle as per the season to get the maximum amount of sunlight.
Make Sure it Does not Slip:
In order to ensure that the PV panel does not slip away, secure it using brackets. If the area where your hens stay is super-windy then, use hangars along with brackets. This shall stop the panel from getting damaged by the wind.
In case you stay in an area that enjoys moderate weather conditions then, opt for a PV panel that is movable. So, you can shift it to any degree as per your personal discretion. Hangars and brackets shall not allow you to maneuver the PV Panel, once it is fixed.
Charge Controller Set-Up:
In order to ensure that your solar panel is functioning flawlessly, you need to set up a charge controller. This is easy to attach to your PV Panel. The reason why you need to do so is to avoid the panel and battery from getting damaged.
Solar charge controller not only controls the flow of current to the battery, it also stops backflow. This helps the PV unit to receive just the appropriate amount of current that is needed to keep it running flawlessly.
The lack of solar charge controller may lead to battery malfunction. In certain rare cases, it may also lead to the battery exploding (as the inflow of current is unchecked). So, definitely go in for one. It is a one-time investment and well worth the money spent.
The Alternate Current Set-Up:
The power that is stored in the photovoltaic cells is in the form of direct current. This is generated using the sun’s solar energy. You have the ability to run the light and fan within the coop with this.
Nonetheless, for a more streamlined power delivery, it is best to convert this power into alternate current. This is possible via the means of an inverter. Nonetheless, during the conversion, you may lose 20% of the stored power.
Simply get hold of an inverter (the ones used at home) and connect it to your solar panel unit. This shall convert the direct current into alternate current and power the electrical devises within the coop.
My suggestion would be to buy a micro-electronics based inverter that derives maximum output from each PV cell. This works as a natural energy savior.
The Direct Current Set-Up:
This method is helpful when you want to en-cash the entire energy stored in your PV unit. Over here, you simply need a solar charge controller apart from the PV unit and the 12 volt battery.
There is no need to opt for series or parallel connection as there is a single unit of power (backed by the 12 volt battery). Simply connect this to the charge controller.
In simpler words, the PV panel and the 12 volt battery connects to the charge controller. Thereafter, an output is connected from the charge controller that powers your light and fan within the chicken coop.
What is a Battery Operated Chicken Coop Door?
As the name itself suggests, this door type opens and shuts itself via the aid of a battery. You would need 4 AA batteries to function your door. Ideally, these batteries should last 7 months.
The distinct advantage is the lack of dependency on a power source. In case of a power failure or lack of sunlight, the solar power and home power shall fail to deliver results.
Nonetheless, a battery powered chicken coop door shall continue to function. It shall stop functioning only when the battery has completely drained out.
What are the Best Chicken Coop Door Ideas for You?
Even before you finalize on the door for your hen house, there are a few considerations that you need to take into account. Apart from the budget and atomization constraints, there are a few more things that need your utmost attention.
Here is what all you need to consider while purchasing or making (DIY) a chicken coop door:
@ It should be simple in installation and simpler to operate. You would like to avoid the hassles of a complicated door.
@ Ideally, you should avoid buying super cheap chicken coop doors. These are not good in quality and shall start presenting issues a few weeks post their installation.
@ If possible, choose the door that can withstand all kinds of weather conditions. If possible, opt for one that offers controlled temperature within the coop.
@ Ambient lighting in the doorway is an asset. If it is controlled via the light of the sun then, nothing like it. This is to be affixed to the controller mechanism that operates the door.
@ Ideally, the closure of this door should be done in a slow yet steady manner. It should not be abrupt as an abrupt action may harm the chicken.
@ It should be wide and high enough to allow free movement of chicken. Moreover, it should be strong to keep predators away.
@ Motorized doors should have a powerful motor. This should be easy to operate and strong enough to control the door’s movement.
@ The door’s controller unit should be weather proof. It should also have a control panel that is super-simple to operate.
@ Lastly, the unit that controls the door needs to be kept safe from rodents. So, all the electric machinery involved here should be wrapped in a neat box.
What to Look Out for While Opting for an Automatic Chicken Coop Door?
When you opt for an automatic door to keep your chicken safe, you need to narrow down your options. Here is what all you need to keep in mind before getting home the perfect door:
1) The Clock Vs Sunlight Option
2) The Type of Controller Mechanism for Your Automatic Door
3) The Dimensions of the Door
4) Type of Door Opening Mechanism
5) Degree of Difficulty in Putting it all Together
6) The Shelf Life
7) Is it Safe or Unsafe?
The Clock Vs Sunlight Option
In simpler words, you need to choose in between a timer based door closing mechanism and a sunlight based option. The first one uses a clock timer set by you while the other gets activated as per the available sunlight.
Let me walk you through both these options:
The Clock Timer:
In this particular door closure options, there is no light sensor aboard. So, you need to set the timer as per your own convenience. As per the established time-frame, the door of your chicken coop shall open or shut itself.
The distinct advantage here is that you can set the timer as per the season. So, you have the flexibility of opening and shutting the door. There is no involvement of any other element (such as sunlight).
The Sunlight Based Option:
The other option that you have is based on the light outside. So, as per the sunlight, the door of your coop either opens or shuts itself. All this is automated yet, it is based solely on sunlight.
The issue is with regards to the light. In case your car’s headlight strikes the controller, it shall trigger the door to open. Even a full moon light shall do the same.
This may lead the door to open at midnight forcing the predators inside. Moreover, if it is overcast and sunlight fails to make its appearance felt during dawn, the door of the coop shall remain closed. In such a scenario, you would need to open it manually.
The Type of Controller Mechanism for Your Automatic Door
The second thing you need to consider is the manner in which the door of your coop opens and shuts. Here are the options you have with special regards to powering the controller that initiates the chicken coop door:
The Sunlight Based Mechanism:
This option works best in remote areas wherein power is an issue. Sunlight based PV panel is affixed with the door. The energy thus derived via the sunlight is used to open and shut the door.
This is a great method and cost effective approach that steers you clear of over-reliability on traditional power sources. The issue here is the lack of sunshine during rainy season. There would be shortage of power and you would need an alternate source to power your doors.
Powered via the Home Socket:
In this method, you can simply attach the automatic door controller to a wall socket. Just plug and play and leave the rest to your grid based power supply.
As there is no need for a battery or solar panels, this option is super comfortable and easy. Nonetheless, if the power goes off then, the door of your coop would not open or shut automatically.
Using Battery Power to Operate the Door:
In this method, you power your controller box using AA batteries. Most controller boxes can make-do with just 4 to 6 batteries.
The good part here is the lack of dependency on solar power or even grid based electric power. All you need to do is replace the battery once it is weak. This usually takes 7 to 8 months.
So, whenever you view the low battery indicator, simply replace the cells.
What is My Opinion?
I strongly feel that the door of your choosing should not depend on just one power source. It should be backed by a battery and plugged to a regular power source.
Also, you should be able to operate the doors manually as well. So while automation is super-convenient, it is not always the best option. Ensure that your door should offer flexibility of movement by offering manual intervention (whenever necessary).
The Dimensions of the Door
This is the third determining factor while picking a suitable door for your hen house. Of all the dimensions, the weight of the door is of utmost importance while determining an automatic version.
So, you need to ensure that the least possible load is placed onto the controller panel. To achieve this very aim, you should opt for a light weight door. Compared to lumber wood doors that weight close to 5 kilograms, aluminum doors weigh close to 0.45 kilograms.
So, opt for lightweight doors in order to allow smooth functioning of the motor. With lesser load on the motor, the lifespan of the machinery shall be improved significantly.
If I (LeanAndFit Reviewer)were you, I would opt for an aluminum door. Alternatively, I would buy a stronger motor to allow the load of a heavy wooden door to be moved flawlessly.
Type of Door Opening Mechanism
The door of a chicken coop opens and shuts itself vertically. I hope by now we all are clear on this aspect. Well, this mechanism could be of two sub-types.
The first shall open and close via a motorized mechanism. In the second option, the upward shift shall be via a mechanized motor but the closure shall be via the gravitational pull.
So, whichever option you choose, it should always have a special stoppage mechanism. This emergency stoppage gets activated when a chicken comes in between the closing door and the floor.
It helps avoid injuries to the birds. Nonetheless, when such a stoppage occurs, the door should have a safety feature that inhibits animals of prey from sneaking inside (such as a special Lip).
Degree of Difficulty in Putting it all Together
Even if you get the best door for your hen house that is fortified with the latest safety features, if the installation process is tough, the effort proves to be futile. So, opt for one that is super-easy to install.
Basically, it should have all the features that are needed to keep the chicken safe yet, it should be fully customized in nature. You should be able to install it in a jiffy. Even the un-installation process should be speedy.
At the same time, the programming option should be customizable. You should be able to set the timer according to your needs. It should also be able to accept manual settings (if the need of the hour demands).
The Shelf Life
Another feature to look into while opting for a mechanized door for your hen house is the shelf life. It would be foolhardy to buy a devise that starts posing issues in a few months. You would ideally want one that lasts a few years without any fuss.
I would want my chicken coop to be weather proof. Snow, wind, hail, rains etc. should not deter its performance. Moreover, if an animal tries to crash into it then, the door should be strong enough to withstand the force.
So, a one-time investment (even if it is of a higher denomination) is preferred over recurrent (less expensive) purchases.
Is it Safe or Unsafe?
The automated door of your choice needs to be fully secured. In simpler words, the door should be able to protect the birds and not harm them. It shall be a disaster when the door shuts onto the chicken.
So, when you are buying an automated door for your hen house, ensure that it is fortified with resistant based sensors. Also, the door should open slowly – a 30 second window is an ideal time frame. The shutting motion should also be slow and sensor based.
Are There any Problems Related to Automatic Doors?
No product or service in this world can be considered perfect. One product or service that works for you may not work for your neighbor or friend. This logic is also valid for the door of your hen and rooster house.
Well, here are the most common issues with automatic doors that you need to keep in mind:
Motor is Not Strong Enough:
A weak motor should be avoided at all costs. The motor that controls the door mechanism needs to be robust and sturdy.
Do no Rely on Newton’s Law:
You need to avoid automatic doors that tend to use gravitational pull for closure.
Sensor Based is Best Option:
Go in for doors that close using sensor based technology. This shall avoid your precious hen or rooster from getting injured during the closure of the door.
Penny Wise Pound Foolish Approach:
The quality of the door needs to be of the highest possible caliber. You need to ensure that you avoid getting home inferior quality products. It is best to make a one-time investment that ‘lasts for life’ rather than save money and get home ‘trouble for life’.
Freezing is Equal to Manual Operation:
Automated doors that are sensor based or gravity based needs to be avoided in extreme weather conditions. This is with special regards to climates that experience extreme cold weather conditions. If you reside in such an area then, opt for manually operated doors instead.
My Personal Opinion while Choosing Automatic Doors for Your Chicken Coop
Now, this particular section of the article is solely based on my opinion on chicken coop doors. This is also with special regards to how I would like the automatic door in my chicken coop to look and appear.
So, here goes:
>>> The choice of the door should be in sync with its power source. I would like to know whether it is powered via sunlight, batteries or the normal grid-based power socket.
>>> If I opt for battery operated doors then, I know that after every 7 months, I need to replace the battery. I also know that I need 4 AA batteries to run this mechanism flawlessly.
>>> I would opt for the door as well as the controller box setup while buying one from the market.
>>> If I am opting for a timer based ‘open and shut’ mechanism then, a manual override option is mandatory. I should be able to change the timer as per my needs (it could be owing to daylight saving hours).
>>> I can opt for cheap doors that have thinner doors and a weak motor. This is when my budget is restricted. On the other hand, I can have a powerful motor and a heavy 4 to 5 kilogram lumber door. This provides far better safety and is long lasting.
>>> It is best to get hold of a lighter door made from aluminum so as to reduce the load on the motor.
>>> I would never ever compromise on the health of my chicken. For that, I would ensure that the chosen coop door is sensor based. If it detects an obstruction while closing, the door should stop right there (instead of crushing the poor hen or rooster).
Well, that’s all that I have to share with regards to this product. If my chosen product includes the above points, I would go in for it without batting an eyelid. If it does not meet these guidelines then, I would continue on my search for one (door) that does.