A few years ago, my not-yet-husband and I were getting ready to go on a camping trip with some friends. We were super excited, but the looming fear about what would happen to our chickens kept popping into my head.
Our plan was to just leave the coop door open at night. Theoretically, they would probably be okay because their coop was inside a pen.
But that pen only protected against terrestrial predators like weasels and foxes – it did nothing for the aerial ones. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the image of an owl swooping in to snatch up my chickens out of my head.
So I did what any self-respecting American would do.
I looked at how I could throw money at the problem to get rid of it.
I’m just kidding – mostly – but that mad hunt at 10 pm a few nights before we left for our camping trip led me to one of the best discoveries I’ve ever made in my time keeping chickens.
It led me to find the Chickenguard Coop Door Opener, which I plan to tell you all about today.
**J&R Pierce Family Farm is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to allow sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon. I often link to Amazon when recommending certain products, and if you choose to purchase, I may earn a small percentage of the sale. It costs you nothing extra, and all recommended products are ones that I personally vouch for. **
How to Protect Your Chickens From Predators
If you’ve already read my post about how to keep your chickens safe from predators, you probably already know the basic steps in keeping things secure. To keep your chickens safe, you should:
- Clean up old feed to prevent attracting scavengers
- Restrict free-ranging when you aren’t at home
- Pasture your chickens in chicken tractors LINK
- Put up decoys to scare away predators
- Invest in a livestock guardian animal
And so on and so forth…
But most importantly, you should lock your chickens up at night.
That sounds simple enough, right? Go out to the coop each night, do a quick headcount, and shut the door.
The problem arises when you have dozens of birds to keep track of, and you don’t necessarily want to be schlepping out in the dark/snow/rain/sleet/chicken poop to shut the door each night.
Or if, in our case, you have a very busy schedule and aren’t always home every night to keep an eye on things.
Enter the ChickenGuard.
Why You Need a ChickenGuard
If you aren’t always around to let your chickens out first thing in the morning – or put them to bed at night – a device that automatically opens your coop door is essential.
The ChickenGuard is not the first automatic coop door opener to appear – in fact, chicken keepers have been coming up with inventive ideas for years about how to creatively shut their coop doors when they weren’t around.
From ropes attached to drinkers that closed and opened a door when the chickens went to drink (based on the theory that chickens drink first thing in the morning and right before roosting) to a system that used the weight of the chickens hopping off the roost to shut the door, there are a ton of homemade operations you can choose form.
But the ChickenGuard, in my opinion, is the best of them all.
This product is a string-lift door. It contains a spool that is wound up inside a weather-resistant plastic box. It operates electronically and you can program it using the included display.
There are several different ways you can operate the unit – you can operate it manually, which gives you full control over opening and shutting the door. The only time we use this feature is when we are introducing new birds to the coop and don’t want to let them out at their regularly scheduled time – we need them to get used to their new home.
The second option works on a timer. This allows you to choose when you want the door to open in the morning and when you want it to shut again at night. What’s really neat is that the unit comes with a blinking red indicator light so that you can see whether your door has shut or not. We can see it all the way from our house.
The ChickenGuard comes with four AA batteries, which I think we’ve only replaced a couple of times. The batteries seem to last forever, but when they do finally run out, you’ll notice that the indicator light stays on continuously.
If you’re not a fan of batteries, the ChickenGuard can be adapted to plug-in power with a USB port – you just need a wall charger and a USB cable.
According to the manufacturer, this door works all the way up to temperatures of 110 degrees and all the way down to -10. I can say for a fact that we have had no problem with the door at temperatures lower than -10.
Even before wind chill is calculated, we regularly have temperatures below -20 here in upstate New York. I can’t speak to above 110 degrees, as I don’t think it has ever gotten that warm here!
Pros of the ChickenGuard
Where to start?! If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a huge proponent of the ChickenGuard. It is an impressive 12 inches wide by 16 inches high – our biggest chickens fit inside just fine, and we even had a few opportunistic lambs crawl inside this spring when they were curious about the grain inside the coop!
We have never used the ChickenGuard with poultry besides chickens and guinea fowl, but my understanding is that it can also be used if you are rearing ducks, geese, and turkeys in many cases.
There are multiple options you can choose from when you purchase your ChickenGuard. The Standard model is the most basic unit, and as a result it is the least expensive.
The Standard ChickenGuard allows you to use the timer to program what time you want the door to close and open. You will need to change this as daylight savings’ time adjusts the daylight hours.
We have the Premium model, which has a timer as well as a daylight sensor. This is incredibly handy, as it does not need to be adjusted for daylight savings time. The sensor is integrated into the control unit, which makes it difficult to adjust where you place it. We have a mobile coop so this is a non-issue, but when we installed our ChickenGuard we placed the sensor so that it would be facing the sun first thing in the morning.
There is also an Extreme ChickenGuard available. This has all the features of the previous two products, but it is designed for people who live in very extreme climates. It is rated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as -20. It has an outer casing and inner components that are designed to withstand severe weather extremes, and it also has a heavier door that is lifted with a stronger motor.
Our chickens trained quite easily to the ChickenGuard. They know not to sit directly underneath it and get out of the way when the motor starts whirring. Even if your chickens do get pinched beneath it, they likely won’t be injured, as the door comes down rather slowly and gently.
The ChickenGuard is extremely easy to program right out of the box. It comes with a three-year warranty, too, as if my testimonial wasn’t enough to convince you already!
Cons of the ChickenGuard
The only major complaint I have about the ChickenGuard is that the casing for the door is made out of cheap wood. This isn’t a big deal – and in fact, I think it needs to be made out of wood in order for it to easily attach to the side of your coop. However, we have had some problems with it expanding and warping in the unpredictable weather of where we live.
As a result, we have had some days where the automatic coop door fails to open because it has frozen shut. This most commonly happens after bouts of freezing rain. When this happens, we have to go out and recalibrate the door in order for it to work again – not a major problem, particularly because it’s in the winter and our chickens prefer to stay inside when it’s cold out, anyway.
I have read some reviews that claim the ChickenGuard door, as with all other string-lift doors, are easy for raccoons to open. We have lots of raccoons here and they have never bothered our chickens in the coop with this system.
Where to Buy a ChickenGuard
You get the same access to free shipping and the warranty programs you would get if you purchased directly from ChickenGuard – I just selected Amazon because I happen to have one of their rewards cards, so I got cash back.
If you want to purchase a ChickenGuard for your coop, you can do so here: Buy ChickenGuard.
Products Similar to the ChickenGuard
There are plenty of other alternatives to the ChickenGuard, like the Cheeper Keeper, the JVR Automatic Coop Door Opener, and the AdorStore Automatic Chicken Coop Door, just to name a few. I can’t honestly speak to the quality of any of these, since I have never used one, but all are around the same price and offer similar features.
Here are links if you want to learn more about other chicken coop door openers:
- Cheeper Keeper
- JVR Automatic Coop Door Opener
- AdorStore Automatic Chicken Coop Door
- Happy Henhouse Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener
- Titan Incubators Automatic Chicken Door Opener
- Incubator Warehouse AutoCoop Ultimate Chicken Coop Door Kit with Timer Controller
We purchased our ChickenGuard from Amazon and had it in time to go on our camping trip. It worked wonders – and that was nearly four years ago. The automatic door opener is still a miracle worker for us – we even went on our honeymoon to Hawaii last year and didn’t have to worry once!
Have you ever considered using an automatic chicken coop door opener? What are your thoughts? Be sure to let me know if you have any comments – as well as if you’d like to share your own experiences! – by chiming in below.
Want to learn more about raising chickens? Be sure to check out these articles!
- How to Butcher Chickens
- How to Keep Predators Away From Your Chickens
- The Best Egg-Laying Chicken Breeds
- The Ultimate Guide to the New Hampshire Chicken Breed
- How You Can Make Money Raising Chickens
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