The Low-Down on Auto Coop Doors

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by skunknchatter, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    We've recently had a HUGE raccoon problem. The raccoons are huge, the population is huge, the problem is huge. 6 years I've had chickens and haven't had shut and lock the coop at night until this spring. We had a raccoon get in (not that hard when your run is topped with chicken wire and your hen house door is wide open). He grabbed a hen but couldn't get her out through the hole he came in through. Now, this may not seem funny to some but you have to try to visualize it. I wake up at 4:00AM to a screaming hen. I run outside with my flashlight and .22 rifle. I shine the light on the coop and there is a raccoon on top of the run trying to tug a screaming thrashing chicken through a hole that is too small. He just keeps yanking her and she keeps flapping. It was like a monkey with it's hand in a box. You know, he grabs the banana inside then can't get his hand out cuz he's holding onto the banana. Anyway... Raccoon dropped the chicken and I missed him with the .22. Needless to say I have been locking them up every night since. So... to get to my point of this thread...

    What is my best solution? We like to go camping last minute a lot and it's a pain to have someone come and lock up the chickens at night then let them out in the morning. My setup is a "hen house" inside a chain link dog kennel. I either need to come up with a raccoon proof top for the whole kennel or put in an automatic hen door. The door would need to be a timer type because my duck is always the last one in at night and sometimes it takes him till midnight to go in. Our raccoon problem seems to be at its worst between 2-6:00AM. The only power I have out to my coop is an extension cord that we run for the water bowl in the winter.

    You guys are always coming up with nifty ways to solve problems so I figured maybe someone would have an idea or two or ten for me. Also if you have a chicken door that you love I'd like to hear about it.
     
  2. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    I use the Ador1, it uses a battery for power. Sprocket drive and seems to work well enough. Problem with automatic doors is that they are not fail proof. ALL of them stick and or hang from time to time, so they are good most of the time, if you are willing to risk that once in a while no close.

    Best to you and your birds,

    RJ
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  3. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    I have a Pullet-Shut Auto Door and I DO love it. I don't think it, alone, will solve your problem. You will likely have to reinforce your entire exterior, trap some coons, and a LGD wouldn't be overkill. Coons are hard and once they find the chickens, they keep coming back until something is all dead (chickens or coons.)


    Good Luck!
     
  4. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    We are trapping and shooting as many as we can. Right now I can hear the stupid buggers out fighting in the neighbors Box Elder tree. Every dang night!!! Anyway... I'll look into both those doors. Battery operated is a plus for me.

    As for reinforcing the whole thing... it's the top that needs it. All I did was "sew" some chicken wire together with bailing twine and zip tie it to the top of the coop with one cross beam support. The point was to keep chickens in, not coons out. So... any ideas on the best way to raccoon proof the top? like I said, it's made from chain link kennel panels. It's 12'x12' square.
     
  5. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    Sorry for the "double dip" but on the Pullet Shut door I was wondering how it stands up to raccoons. Can't they just pry it open? Or does it shut tight enough that they can't get their little fingers in to pry it? They are smart little critters and I worry a bit about that. Also what if my hens push on the door?
     
  6. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    I have recently seen a dog kennel with a 2 x 4 and wire top. It was pretty cool, looked to be about on 16 inch centers with cross pieces between the 'rafters'. Of course this is just a flat top, I thought it would work well and have filed this one away for future use, but seems like you could use it first. Are you in Cache Valley by chance?

    Best to you and your birds,

    RJ
     
  7. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    In my application, I don't worry about a coon prying the door open. It is mounted on a portion of the run to let them out to free range. My entire run is reinforced and they sleep in it at night. Because the walls are made of wire fencing, there is no reason for the coons to concentrate on the door. It is solid and in a solid wall, my thought is that they will try to get to the birds from a location where they can see the birds.

    The door has a frame that the door panel closes into and it would be challenging for a coon to get behind it to pry it open, buy you are right, the door may be defeatable by a smart and determined coon. My birds have never pushed it open but they do line up at the door when it's time for it to open. My goats have pushed it open with little effort causing them to get banned from that area. They had gone in to the run through the door and when I went in to run them out, they put their heads on the auto door and pushed their way out. I was so mad!
     
  8. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    I'm in Wasatch County.

    I haven't had any raccoons in my coop since I started locking the chickens up so they haven't been "that" determined yet but with winter coming on...they may be willing to put in more effort for a nice warm chicken dinner. But I guess any auto door can fail if there is a really determined predator trying to get in. Ugh... stupid raccoons.

    RJ: Do you have more problems with your door in the winter? We get sub zero at night for a couple of months up here. Do you find that below freezing temps effect the door or the battery life of your door? Also, I have a duck that is sometimes pretty late going into the coop. It looks like the ADOR1 doesn't have a "manual set" option for me to set the morning and evening times. Just a photocell. Is that right or did I miss something on their website?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  9. tcstoehr

    tcstoehr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Canby, Oregon
    Quote: That's pretty much how the Ador1 works. It does, however have an unadvertised feature that I use that delays the opening of the door in the morning. See this post #666 in this thread:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/740659/ador1-automatic-coop-door/666

    The Ador1 is not designed for timer use which is unfortunate, but you can do it. I have tried to talk the Ador1 guy into making this better. What you can do now is run your own photo sensor on a wire to a small enclosed light bulb. The light bulb is set on a timer, so the door will open and close with the light bulb. It's not as hard as it sounds. The Ador1 is designed to accommodate a remote photo-sensor. But you still have to cobble together a light bulb in an enclosure or whatever.

    It also has a "last call" feature which after closing the door at night, opens it up again for five minutes to let in any straggles before closing for the night.
     
  10. RJSorensen

    RJSorensen Chicken George

    I bought my Ador1 this spring, so have not wintered with it, We get cold like you do so we will have to see.

    Best to you and your birds,

    RJ
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014

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