Automatic Chicken Coop Door

100% REDUCTION IN PREDATOR KILLS

Managing Coop Temperatures

Jeremy SmithComment

Managing the temperature of your chicken coop is a vital and crucial task to do. Too hot and the chickens will over heat, too cold and they could freeze, too open to elements and your chicken can become ill. How can you manage this in such a way that it will not have to monitored constantly? There are a few different steps you can take.
 

How can you manage this in such a way that it will not have to monitored constantly? There are a few different steps you can take.

  1. Make sure you coop is well insulated in the warm climate but can be a comfortable temperature when weather is at its worst.
  2. Many chicken care takers have found an easy way to manage it is to install a copula. This allows the rising heat to slowly escape through the top of the coop and replenish it with cool fresh air.
  3. Another method is to install windows that would be reinforced with one inch chicken wire to allow air flow but also to prevent unexpected guests from entering. “Air flow is extremely important and very necessary, without it the chicken’s fecal matter can produce a gas/ammonia that with no air flow could kill the chicken overnight.”
  4. Many other chicken people have installed small vent covers towards the top of their coop to slowly allow heat to escape but not too large that it lets all the heat out and freezing the chicken. “If you use larger sized vent cover be sure that it is reinforced to keep predators out.”
  5. If you battle with harsh cool nights but it is too hot during the day to have a heater running the whole time, the best suggestion would be a heat lamp/heater controlled by a timer. “Baby chicks need the heat no matter what but larger chicken might not need it through the entire day.”
  6. Some people think of sett in fan in the coop when its too hot but this does nothing for the birds. Unlike us chickens do not have sweat glands. So unless its blowing cool fresh outside air on them the fan would just be cycling the air and mixing with the heat from up higher making the coop and it uncomfortable for the chickens. “When it gets too hot they will get off of the perches and go lower to the cooler air.” (this is why ventilation is so important)

Chicks should be kept in a 95 degree Fahrenheit temperature controlled space but adult chickens generally are very hardy and could be in 0 degree Fahrenheit weather. When its this cold its important to have some ventilation but limit it so the coop is not drafty. I personally set a heat lamp up in my coop to turn on when the coop is under 50 degrees Fahrenheit and a small space heater that turns on when the coop is lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.. Also in the winter weather up in North West Indiana we have an issue with limited sunlight for weeks at a time. To counter this and keep egg production boosted we have a regular 100watt light bulb that turn on with a timer from 6am-5pm. This tricks the chickens into laying throughout the year and Im sure my warm coop helps with this as well.

Want some coop ideas? Here is a video tour of our coop.

 

Jeremy Smith

Chicken Cleanliness

Jeremy SmithComment

HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED CLEANING YOUR CHICKENS?

The other day my wife was mad because our chickens were making holes in the yard and kicking up dirt. We knew this was their way to clean themselves. Chickens do not wash in water. They use dirt/dust to clean themselves. Taking a dust bath helps protect them from lice and other parasites. You can find both young and old chickens playing in the dust. They fluff their feathers and hunker down into the dirt, working their feathers into the soil and the soil into their feathers. Free-range chickens usually have no problem finding/making their own dust bath such as in our case. City chickens however, are normally unable to find this ‘extra space’ to make a dust bath and remain vulnerable to parasites. Building a designated area for chickens taking dust baths will save your sanity and keep your chickens happy and clean.

To save your chickens, eggs, and yard here is a list to get started on building a chicken dust bath of your own.

  1. Find yourself a durable/weather proof container cut to size: about 6-10inches in height and 12x22inches in diameter. (Some stores sell totes that would be an acceptable size) If you do not wish to use a plastic container you can also do this many other ways. Stacking landscaping bricks in a square about 8-12 inches off the ground is also an effective way to accomplish a dust bath while still keeping the attractive look of your back yard. If you are not worried about looks, you can make a chicken dust bath by using an old car tire etc.
  2. Fill your container with sandy dirt leaving 2-3inches of the container unfilled. (This keeps the dirt from ending up everywhere.) Also keep in mind, they may kick some of the dirt out while they indulge themselves in a dirt bath, so keep it away from the nesting and feeding area.
  3. What should I fill my Chicken dust bath with? Although we think just dirt or sand would be enough, it isn’t exactly what the chickens wish to have. There is a mix of ingredients that will make your egg layers VERY happy. Mix together sand, dirt, sifted Wood Ash, and DE (diatomaceous earth, which can be found at your local nursery & feed store)
  4. You can also add products to your chicken dust baths such as “Barrier Louse Powder” This will protect them from mites, fleas, ticks, ect. “Diatom” Is another great product to use and no harm if ingested since it will work as a wormer as well.
  5. Do not add water to your chicken dust bath. The “Girls” like it dry and dusty!
  6. Now that you have built your chickens a dust bath there is nothing more to do than sit back to watch the girls wallow in it.

 
Jeremy Smith

What's the Best Coop Bedding for Your Chickens?

Jeremy SmithComment

There are several different methods and materials to use for coop beddings. Today I’m going to share with you the advantages and disadvantages of each basic type of coop bedding so you can make the choice of what is best for your coop.

 

Straw/Hay: This is a very popular choice for coop bedding and nesting. This is because it is cheap and incredibly easy to cleanup. This does smell better than most other choices but can hold moisture as this is the reason landscapers use it. The buildup of moisture can create illness in your chickens if not cleaned at least every 3 weeks. When installed and replaced it can also be very dusty but does make for excellent composing. Chickens love this in their nesting boxes. Pest can hide and live in the straw so it is recommended its cleaned thoroughly to help keep them out. Cost $2-3 Per Bale. 


I personally use straw in our nesting boxes to keep it feeling soft and appealing to our girls. We’ve test several other options and our chickens seem to prefer straw for their nesting boxes. We do not use this on the floor of our coop due to moisture buildup.

Sand: This is a more popular option in the southern and western states. The sand is easily cleaned (similar to cleaning a litter box), very absorbent, and only needs replaced about two-three times per year. This method can be dusty and the girls will love it and use it as a giant dust bath. Sand is not pest resistant so if you do choose this option, I recommend adding delousing powder to fight against mites and when the girls take their dust baths they will self-medicating themselves to fight against mites and other small parasites that would pester them. This also will not hurt the chickens if they ingest it. If you choose sand you should use builders sand and not sand box sand as that will be too fine and clump up. Cost $2.50 Per Bag.

I personally have not tried this method in my coop but I did create a chicken dust bath for my girls and they love it. We had an issue with mites getting under their scales on their feet causing it to become red and irritated. Giving your chickens a dust bath with added delousing powder will help fight against this.

Pine Shavings: These are a popular choice as well as they smell good and are absorbent. This is also very inexpensive so it can be replaced frequently. It’s recommended to replace this every 4-6 weeks. Chickens love this in their nesting boxes. This is less dusty than sand or straw but still does get dusty over time. Wood shavings are pest resistant. This is great for brooders. Cost $4-5.50 Per Cube.

We use these in our chicken nursery for baby chicks and their mothers as its very safe for them and absorbent to protect against illness.

Saw Dust Pellets: These are very easy to first install. The pellets are extremely absorbent and will protect your chickens from illness. This can be easily composted and is pest resistant. This can be difficult to clean as it turns back into saw dust as it dries but only needs to be cleaned 2 times per year (Flat shovel recommended for cleanup). These pellets can be a bit slippery at first but once moisture is present the pellets spread into sawdust and absorb the moisture. This is not recommended for nesting boxes. Cost $5-6

I personally use this in our coop. The pellets are very little maintenance and healthy for the chickens. If you have a flat shovel its easy to clean.  This can be the most costly of all the other options but is the best option we have come crossed for our coop.

Leaves: Some people really love the idea of using leaves for their coop and why wouldn’t they? It’s free! Leaves can be shredded or whole and are easily spread. Cleanup can be a bit of a challenge if the leaves were shredded but a flat shovel will help. The leaves can hold moisture so it’s recommended to replace them at least every 3 weeks. These would be better used in a nesting box than the whole coop as it does hold moisture. This can be easily composted as well. Cost $ Free

We used these in our coop for awhile but we stopped as it because a hassle because our chickens would throw the leaves out of the nesting boxes and even scratch down to the bare floor at times scavenging through the leaves looking for grubs.

Shredded Paper: This is a wonderful idea for repurposing your old shredded papers. This can also be easily composted later on as well. Shredded Paper is absorbent and can be flipped over periodically to make sure it dries and is used to its full potential. This is a great option for a brooder and for the most part is pest resistant as well. Cost $ Free

We have used this in the past in our chicken nursery and nesting boxes. I really don’t have any complaints about it except that it would sometimes stick to the floor of the coop but that was easily fixed with scraping at it with a flat shovel.

Overall in my own coop I prefer the pine pellets on the coop floor as its easy to cleanup. However, my hens prefer the straw in their nesting boxes. Together we have both agreed to use the pellets on the floor and straw in the nesting boxes. We have a very happy coop and easy cleanup.


Jeremy Smith


Are Moles A Threat To Your Chickens?

Jeremy SmithComment

HERE IS A STORY FROM JEREMY SMITH ABOUT HIS CONCERN WITH MOLES AROUND HIS CHICKENS.

I live in a rural area and have lots of predators always coming around, but I feel I should take more action in protecting my chickens. Right now the local coyotes  are busy with the dense rabbit population and the mink busy fishing out in the creek during these summer months. The biggest problem I have is an invasion of moles and I’m worried that they might harm my chickens. The moles are not very close to my coop, so I’m considering myself lucky.

I invested over $40.00 in moles traps and I even bought a book about them. The book let me know right off that if I have moles its a good indicator that I have healthy soil.  I was relieved to hear that but I still wanted to try and get rid of them in case if my girls ever got too close to one.

After a couple days of trapping I realized how small moles actually are. Literally the size of a computer mouse or smaller. By spending all this time out with the girls I saw one of them digging up the ground. I went on setting my traps when one of the chickens went running right by me playing keep away from the others with what she had just caught. It was a mole!

I invested so much time, money, and pretty much creating a new hobby for myself only to find out that my chickens were not at harm at all! In fact the moles were the ones in danger. My chickens were already trapping for me so I didn’t have to (I guess this is why the moles had not moved close to the coop in the first place). I was curious so I began setting up wildlife cams to see what all my girls catch and dig up during the day. I was surprised to find that our chickens indulge themselves on nests of field mice, small gardner snakes, even baby rabbits… The list goes on and on. Needless to say I found that my chickens fend for themselves and didn’t need my help in the first place.

Click here for more information about protecting your chickens from your local predators.

Have information you would like to add?  Email us at info@automaticchickencoopdoor.com

Hen Protection

Jeremy SmithComment

Although it is relatively simple to build a coop to keep chickens in from scratch, many people simply don’t have the carpentry skills and prefer to purchase chicken coop kits instead. Most chicken coop kits come with all the necessary materials required for constructing the perfect home in which their hens will be safe.

However before purchasing a chicken coop kit, keep in mind the size of the garden and number of chickens the coop will host.

In many areas, if the chicken coop takes up more than 50% of the garden, permission may be needed from local authorities before constructing. Each chicken needs at least 2 sq feet of space and larger breeds may need at least 4 to 5 sq feet of space.

For a tour of our coop, click here!

Chicken Health Problems

Jeremy SmithComment

A decent and clean chicken coop is essential for the health of a chicken. Hen Fleas are a major health concern for many farmers: once infected the chickens will become restless and show agitation. This discomfort will make a broody hen so stressed that she may actually break her eggs.

Fleas are often found inside the chicken’s house, or sometimes in open ground. The owner may treat his birds with flea dusting powder in an attempt to control the infestation. A regular routine inspection of the chicken house and chickens is very important.

External parasites can be transmitted by wild birds, contact with infected chickens and rodents. As a result, implementing rules and regulations to inspect and to keep the chicken house clean will most likely guarantee a healthy and itch-free flock.

For instructions on creating a dust bath for protecting your chickens from external parasites, click here.

Pet Chicken Health

Jeremy SmithComment

A decent and clean chicken coop is essential for the health of a chicken. Hen Fleas are a major health concern for many farmers: once infected the chickens will become restless and show agitation. This discomfort will make a broody hen so stressed that she may actually break her eggs.

Fleas are often found inside the chicken’s house, or sometimes in open ground. The owner may treat his birds with flea dusting powder in an attempt to control the infestation. A regular routine inspection of the chicken house and chickens is very important.

External parasites can be transmitted by wild birds, contact with infected chickens and rodents. As a result, implementing rules and regulations to inspect and to keep the chicken house clean will most likely guarantee a healthy and itch-free flock.

For more chicken "how to's" & "helps" click here!