Automatic door- chickens locked out

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by meganer14, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. meganer14

    meganer14 New Egg

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    Our chickens(8) are about 8 months & been in their coop/run since this summer. We got an automatic door in September & chickens used it great until about a month ago. Recently between 2-6 seem to not come in almost every night & we have to bring them in manually. We are located outside of Seattle area & have had unusually cold weather which seems like they'd have more incentive to go in(heat lamp on), but no. We used to have 2 turkeys with them (raised together) but the turkeys have been gone as of thanksgiving & xmas. We thought the chickens were staying out bc the female turkey was but her disappearance hasn't changed the chickens not coming in. Suggestions? It's getting really old & defeats the purpose of the automatic door. Our run is not as secure as the coop. They don't seem stressed as they're still laying(3-8 eggs/day). Coop is 4x12 (2/3 of a horse stall), so they have plenty of room. Help!!
     
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    I think in really cold weather, it would be good to forget about the auto door, and let them out/ in manually. Auto doors can malfunction if snow or other debris blocks movement of the door. Manual use would be to insure they all come in and are not locked out in the cold.

    When the weather is more favorable you could try the auto door again. Meanwhile I would beef up security on your run. They could get picked off my predators whether using the door or not. A cover on the run to help protect from snow, rain, sun & climbing & flying predators.
     
  3. meganer14

    meganer14 New Egg

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    Thanks!! Our cold weather means in the 20s & we've had about an inch of snow twice, but where the door is it's undercover so nothing is getting in the way & the door seems to be working ok. Our run has bird netting on the top but isn't completely secure. We have two dogs so rarely does anything come into the yard without being noticed by them but the dogs are inside at night which is why we definitely want the chickens in at night. Just trying to find out if there is a way to 're-train' them! We have horses so we're out at the barn feeding every night but to get the door to manually open (without disconnecting) we have to go into the run which is only 4' tall so not too fun!
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  4. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another reason your hens might not be going into the coop is that it's too warm for them. I used to live just outside of Seattle myself and while living there never experienced the cold temperatures that are found in Montana. I have yet to need a heat lamp to keep the chickens warm. Had week old babies running around outside with their Momma when it was in the 20s without a problem. Even had a night get down to -22 so far this year. Didn't bother the girls at all. They were still outside just as soon as it got light, scratching around, eating, and drinking as usual. They are outside all day no matter what the temperature is. We haven't had many days above 32 for nearly 2 months. Still have snow on the ground that fell in November. The ground hasn't been visible since then either.

    The problem you are going to have in the Seattle area is keeping your coop dry, not warm. I remember the dampness. You'll need plenty of ventilation to keep your coop dry enough. Remember, a dry chicken is a warm chicken. Chickens carry around their own down coat 24/7. They prefer cool weather rather than hot weather.
     
  5. m1marin

    m1marin Out Of The Brooder

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    All hens have poor vision in the dark. But I have a personal theory that the hens with better eyesight will stay out longer.

    It could be that you need to adjust the closing time for the door. We recently installed an automatic door and monitored what time everyone went to roost each evening. We then added a buffer of about 15 minutes to the closing time. We found that on our latitude the girls would go to roost about 20-30 minutes after sunset. So that made it pretty easy to set a good closing time. We've also found that if it is overcast or cloudy they will go to roost earlier. Be sure to periodically adjust the open/close time because the days are getting longer now.
     
  6. meganer14

    meganer14 New Egg

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    Thanks all. It's currently on a photo sensor so closes at dusk, then opens back up for one minute & then closes until it senses daylight. We disconnected it & reset it once thinking that maybe it was closing too early. The coop is inside the barn & just in the stall(with wire on top of the stall so it's definitely dry). The run is along side of the barn so a portion is covered by the roof. We've only had the heat lamp on a handful of nights, but definitely don't think it's too warm in the barn as they water was frozen tonight... :/
     
  7. m1marin

    m1marin Out Of The Brooder

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    Ah ha. It sounds like we both have the same model. I followed the instructions to do a reset that will disable the photo sensor. I found that when using the photo sensor our hens would get locked out too. Once we switched to manually setting the time we didn't have any more lockouts.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Every now and then one of my chickens will decide not to go inside the coop at night. For the past week its been one of my Rhode Island Reds, and last night it was her plus my Americana. Prior to the past week, everyone was always inside. I figure she just wants some 1 on 1 time with me as I pick her up and place her on a perch inside the coop when I lock everything up at 11pm.
     
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Eventually I'll move to an auto door. With that I know if a bird doesn't get in the coop in time in my winter non electric run it wouldn't make the night. We are surrounded by predators here. It's natural selection and the smarter birds will live to breed forward intelligence to the flock.
     

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