We raise chickens in our fenced-in backyard. With our set up, we do not have a covered run and the coop area is only for sleeping and laying eggs. We do have plenty of areas where the girls can hide from predators and be in the shade.
One thing I worried about was what would happen to the girls if we were not there in the morning to open the coop or close it at night. Also, sometimes we are gone late and we are not able to close them in for the night. This is where the automatic coop door has been a real blessing.
We ordered a coop door motor made by Pet Auto Doors from Fleming Outdoors. Since we had our own custom coop door, we bought the motor only. This motor is easy to use. It can run on four AA batteries, a wall outlet, or you can purchase the option to use a solar panel. I was told by Pet Auto Doors that the motor could run on batteries alone for up to six months. When we get storms with wind, there is the worry about a fire hazard near the outlet so at these times, I unplug the motor and let it run on batteries. I have done this a lot with the recent flooding rains in North Texas and the battery backup has been great.
With the option we have, we just set whatever time we want for opening and closing the door. You can also set how far you want to open or close it. We fabricated a new door into our original coop door. Our new door is a tile we purchased for just 69 cents at the hardware store.
The set up was straightforward. For step-by-step instructions with photographs you can find my article here. We did have some trial and error with the door. With the tension on the door, it would not always hold right and the tile door would break and fall off. We had to work with it making sure everything was lined up properly. We also did a fail-safe so that if the door does break again, it will slide to the ground and not trap the girls inside. We purchased a few of the tiles for back up in case we have any more issues with the door.
I think the coop door was a worthwhile investment. It gives me some peace of mind that if I cannot make it home to close up the coop, they will still be locked up safe. I still check in on them once I come home to make sure that they did make in for the night. We put in a little peep hole and we can also look in through the nesting boxes attached to the side. Our girls are definitely safer now.
Have you invested in an automatic coop door? Any plans to do so?