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Do I actually need a pop-door that closes?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by JanetSmithery, May 19, 2010.

  1. JanetSmithery

    JanetSmithery In the Brooder

    May 11, 2010
    Eugene, OR
    Here's the situation: three of my housemates and I are building and managing a chicken coop together. We are all graduate students. We all keep pretty late hours with all the work we have to do. None of us is overly enthused about running outside in the morning to let the chickens out of their coop and into the run, and it would actually be a little hard for any of us to commit to being at home at dusk all the time. We have department meetings, classes, reading groups, teaching, office hours, and still more work. And when we don't have all this work, we have a rare happy hour.

    Given the demands of our work, school work, and the occasional social obligation, I thought I would dip into my rainy day fund and get an automatic door opener/closer. (If it matters, I'm looking at the Add-a-Motor D20.)

    Here's where things get complicated. Because we're coöperatively managing this coop, my housemates are uncomfortable with me making such a large individual contribution to our collective project. Even if we split $100 four ways, though, it would still be difficult for my housemates to manage another $25 each on top of all the other start-up costs we're incurring. Coming up with a DIY solution isn't feasible either: We're barely carpentry-competent enough to cobble together a coop. Electrical work is entirely beyond our capabilities without explicit, tried and true directions. We can't, for instance, figure out what's happening in this DIY guide.

    So we can't get an automatic door opener for 'political' reasons, we can't make an automatic door for aptitude reasons, but we still need something that lets the birds out so our neighbors don't complain of morning noise and lets them go in when they want to roost.

    Or do we? Our run will be a veritable Fort Knox of runs. The bottom will be entirely lined in 1/2 inch hardware cloth which will be secured to the foundation (and then covered with 6-8 inches worth of sand). The run will be completely enclosed on all sides and the top with very well-fastened hardware cloth. In theory, this should keep the raccoons and rats out of our coop. If this is the case, do we even need a pop door? Could we make do with just an opening that would let the birds in and out as they pleased?
    Last edited: May 19, 2010

  2. AtholCoop

    AtholCoop Songster

    Sep 27, 2008
    North Idaho
    I rarely close mine. In fact the only time I do is when it gets down below -10, and they aren't going out in those temps anyway.
  3. dumb_cluck

    dumb_cluck Songster

    Mar 26, 2010
    Upstate NY
    I would say "yes". Reason is to keep predators out, not chickens in.

    If you are home to open in the am and close in the pm, just use a simple hinge and a rope to tie the door open. JMHO
  4. Nana2KJS

    Nana2KJS Chicks-n-Ahs

    Mar 21, 2009
    SE Kansas
    If the coop and run together are secure, I'm not sure of the need for an auto-close door, either. If the chickens can get to and from the coop and run without fear of predators they will take care of themselves. We used a large pet door (about $40 at Home Depot). I cut the plastic into strips and the chickens come and go as they please.
  5. nursemeh

    nursemeh Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    Conroe, Texas
    we also never close ours.

    but, basically we have what's called an "open air" coop, I think. The hens just come and go from their roost area out into the run. I planned the run to be secure.

    The run is wielded wire all over, fully enclosed. As far as I can tell, the only predator that can get in is a snake as I couldn't afford to enclose it completely in hardware cloth, we do have a hardwire cloth skirting & apron to deter diggers. (I know, I know, once a snake gobbles them all up, I'll be sorry, but he'd have to be huge to eat ALL of them, we have some big chickens!)

    Anyway, just work to make your run as secure as possible and then I see no need to open and shut that little door, ours just hangs their open all the time!
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    If you truly feel that your attached run is Fort Knox, I think you'd do okay. Obviously the safest thing is to close them inside the housing each night. But as you've read, many people in hot areas only have open coop designs, no secure housing, and have done okay. You would need to make sure you made it a habit of frequently looking the run over for signs of digging, signs of predators trying to get inside, etc. Another thing you could try: Get a really cheap (and trust me, they make some cheap ones...try one of the Habitat Resale Stores) motion sensor lights to aim down into the run. Also, a small light, even a night light in the coop at night should help deter predators, as they like the darkness, where they can't be seen.
  7. downstownlady

    downstownlady Songster

    Apr 28, 2010
    Conroe, TX
    Love the idea of the doggie door with the flap. Check out your area resale shops...a lot of times you'll find just what you need at a great bargain price...and don't forget to barter...sometimes they will even go lower. You might walk away with an old doggie door, for less than $5.00.

  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    It seems to me the choice is fairly simple. Either y'all (as a group) decide that you're willing to take a chance on leaving the popdoor open overnight -- though bear in mind that people who THINK their run is 100% predatorproof are fairly often wrong, when a predator finally gets around to testing it -- or y'all decide as a group that you're not comfortable with the risk of losing the chickens, and pop for the auto opener.

    Having been a cash-strapped grad student myself, I can see reasonable appeal in the first option, as long as nobody is going to be excessively distraught if someday you have to pick up bloody chicken parts and buy new hens.

    Good luck, have fun,

  9. JanetSmithery

    JanetSmithery In the Brooder

    May 11, 2010
    Eugene, OR
    Thank you all for such wonderful testimonials and advice. I don't know that I'm entirely comfortable with not making these birds as safe as I can possibly make them. It would break my heart if I found that a raccoon had broken into our Fort Knox and got all our birds. It's good to know that many people have had good luck with permanently open doors, and it certainly give me and my housemates a lot of good points for our discussion and ultimate decision. Thanks again, and I'll let you know what the final decision will be!
  10. nursemeh

    nursemeh Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    Conroe, Texas
    Is the choice so fairly simple?

    1. certain death(eventually)
    2. coop door shut at night?

    My run is fully enlosed with welded wire, 100%, screwed into wooden frame with fender washers; hardwear cloth (1/2 inch) apron dug in aprox 6-8 inches all 4 sides.

    Inside of this wielded wire cage is a wooden coop, elevated aprox 3 ft off of ground where they roost. It really is more of an open air coop, I guess, just their sleeping quarters is totally enclosed wood. They have a huge run for day use that is attached.

    I do not shut the door to their roost area at night, because their run is 100% enclosed with welded wire.

    We do not have bears in my area. Can raccoons, coyotes or skunks claw/chew their way thru welded wire?

    I admit my run is not snake proof. I rely on 4 outdoor cats and surrounding stray dogs to deter snakes. I do not believe that my dual purpose breed hens are going to be threatened by a snake.

    Right now we have a broody mommy and 6 chicks, they sleep in an area enclosed with 1/2 hardwear cloth, because, of course, they are vulnerable to snakes.

    Anyway, not wanting to be disrespectful, but I just don't think that it's fair to say that those of us who do not shut up a coop door at night are careless and that we don't mind "if someday you have to pick up bloody chicken parts and buy new hens."

    I often read on BYC here about people who think their COOP is 100% predator prood and turn out to be wrong, so people can underestimate predators whether they shut a coop door or not.

    Just my 2 cents.


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