Call me crazy, but a chicken coop automatic door just might make your life easier. Early every morning, you (or someone in your family) will have the chore of going out to the coop and letting the birds out into their run or your yard. Of course, at the same time, you are probably taking out some fresh water and chicken feed to your birds, so an automatic door may not seem like much of a necessity.
However, at night, you will want to make sure your flock is safely tucked inside their coop as soon as the sun begins to set. Many of their predators are nocturnal and attack under the cover of dark. If you are delayed at the office or enjoying a night out on the town with your family and friends, you may not like what you come home to find.
This is where automatic chicken coop doors come in handy...
Your birds know when it's bedtime. They will instinctively return to their coop when it's time. However, if you are not able to shut them in safe and sound, they won't be able to close the door on their own - which means that they are still susceptible to attacks.
We came across a couple of handy do it yourself plans that will do the job of closing up the coop when you are not around to do it. The first one uses a drapery motor and controller, a weight, and a 24 hour day timer. Check it out at buildeazy.com.
The second design also uses a digital timer, but instead of the drapery motor, it uses a car door lock actuator. Check it out at nifty-stuff.com.
Remember, although a chicken coop automatic door is great as a backup plan, you should not count on it to do the job all the time. I would use it only in those special situations when you have other commitments and can't be in two places at once.
photo credit: Michael Brannon