The Difference Between Automatic & Manual Chicken Coop Doors
If you’re starting your own chicken coop or want to revamp the one you already have, then you may want to start with your chicken coop door. This particular piece of the coop’s structure is more important than many give it credit for.
Chicken Coop Doors: Why They’re Important
You may wonder why you can’t just leave the coop door open during the day. That would leave the chickens free to enter and leave the coop whenever they wanted to, making their roaming easier and faster, right? Well, wrong. There are two reasons why:
- Your chicken coop needs to be protected from the weather.
- Your chicks like their privacy, especially if they are laying eggs!
Like we’ve already mentioned in this article on how to build your own coop, your chicken’s home needs to be weatherproof. This is impossible if you leave the door open since rain, wind, snow, and dirt will get inside! Not to mention that their organic bedding is an ideal place for bacteria to breed should it get wet. Always remember this motto: a dry and warm chicken is a happy chicken! And also, just like you enjoy the privacy a closed door can provide, chickens like to lay their eggs without worrying about drafts or predators.
According to For The Love of Livestock, a website for animal lovers everywhere, “A chicken coop door should be closed at night to protect chickens from predators, including raccoons, skunks, dogs, weasels, foxes, and snakes. Closed chicken coop doors also protect chickens from drafts, cold, and inclement weather.”
Now we move on to the big question: should you have a manual or an automatic chicken door? Let’s compare both of them and list their pros and cons.
Manual Chicken Coop Doors
Manual chicken coop doors are exactly what their name states: a door that you have to manually open and close every day and night to keep your chickens safe.
There are certain upsides to having a manual door in your chicken coop:
- You have absolute control. You decide what time the door opens and closes, and you personally make sure that none of your chickens are stuck outside.
- If you’re under a strict budget, then you don’t have to spend more money on an expensive automatic door or installation.
Using a manual door can have a few downsides:
- You need to open the door at sunrise even if you’re lying cozy in bed, wrapped in warm sheets.
- You need to close their door every night, so if you happen to be detained somewhere else or need to leave for an emergency and can’t return on time, your chickens may be left vulnerable to predators.
- Sadly, manual or “people-sized” doors can be slammed shut by a gust of wind. So if one of your chickens is entering or leaving the coop when this happens, it will trap her or most probably, kill her outright.
So if you work from home, have a flexible schedule, or have a chicken sitter available to help you out with your manual door, then this might be just what you need.
Automatic Chicken Coop Doors
As its name suggests, an automatic chicken coop door is a chicken-sized door that is controlled and programmed by you. It opens and closes on its own on the schedule you set it to and lets your chickens in and out of the coop without you having to manually open the door. If your schedule is less flexible or if you’re extremely busy, an automatic door can be a great ally.
- You don’t have to get up early to let the chickens out – the door does it for you!
- You won’t forget to close the coop door at night.
- If you happen to have a night out or take a short vacation, it’s easier to leave your chickens (especially if you have an automatic feeder!).
- It’s self-timed, so you can control what time the door will open and close every day.
- They can be better at warding off predators because they only open when the timer goes off or with the sunlight sensor.
- You may mess up the opening and closing times. This is mainly related to daylight savings time changes, but automatic doors can be easily reprogrammed to fit different schedules.
- One of your chickens may get “trapped”. This may be the case for gravity-driven doors. But most automatic mechanisms close slowly, giving your chickens time to get in or get out in time.
- The door may close before all your chickens make it inside. This will mean that the chickens that don’t make it in time will be stuck outside all night (in case you don’t notice). But this is easily controllable if you make a check each night before you go to bed.
The Happy Chicken Coop states that an automated door is “every chicken keepers dream!” And with its automated and time-saving nature, it’s easy to see why. You still have control, your chickens are safer and you can take a few worries off your mind and concentrate on other projects to keep your birds happy and flapping.
In the end, both types of chicken coop doors have their pros and cons. Pick the one that suits your lifestyle best and will make the most out of your chicken coop!
Our recommendation will always turn towards an automatic door, simply because we find it more convenient and a more comfortable way of keeping your chickens in and out without you having to put in too much work! The ChickenGuard Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener is a great choice, since it opens and closes your chicken coop with a timer and/or light sensor, and you can manually open and close your chicken door with the push of a button! It’s one of our best selling door openers that will give you peace of mind and will protect your hens from foxes and other predators. For a budget-friendly, economy automatic coop door, you may also like the Coop Defender. There are three-door kits to choose from, including an innovative locking door.