The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to build a fully automatic chicken coop

fully automatic chicken house design
has a great post on how he fully automated his chicken coop so he could leave for a 3 week holiday and still come back to a happy flock still alive and clucking.

It even handles his two ducks by giving them their own door at the bottom. Ducks like to stay out about an hour past dusk which means he had to set their door on a timer.

My favorite feature is the internet chicken cam, an innovation I've been trying to make happen for over a year now. This allows him to check up on his birds online, which I'm sure gives one a good feeling knowing their chickens and ducks are safely tucked in for the night.

The only thing I would do different here is replace his clunky, old fashioned waterer with an Avian Aqua Miser. He's got it set up to have the water flush his system for 2 minutes twice a day, which is acceptable, but in my opinion an Avian Aqua Miser would be a more simple solution that would be less prone to fail while providing cleaner water for both his chickens and ducks.

Siblify's chickens and ducks and the rest of the flock

Automatic chicken door
Edited to add:

After years of research, Mark eventually settled on
this automatic chicken door.

You can see a summary of the best chicken door alternatives and why he chose this version here.

If you're planning on automating your coop, don't forget to pick up one of our chicken waterers.  They never spill or fill with poop, and if done right, can only need filling every few days or weeks!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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VBS automatic chicken coop door opener warning
I found this warning and thought it might be relevant to those out there using a VSB opener for the first time.

I'm sure it could be modified to include some sort of battery checker, or perhaps a regement of battery replacement is in order every 3 months or whatever?

I would be tempted to add a small solar cell to keep the battery charged or just run some electricity out to it and get the right size power adapter.

Image credit goes to ChapelHillFiddler for sharing this information.

Comment by mark Sun Sep 19 17:22:28 2010
We are using the VSB door opener with the recommended door, and our batteries last at least 2 years. Experiences posted by others on websites indicate a similar battery life to that which we enjoy.
Comment by ctintheusa Thu Jan 13 13:20:16 2011
It's good to hear the other side of the story. Thanks for posting, ctintheusa.
Comment by anna Thu Jan 13 19:36:50 2011

The batteries should last several years or up 4 year with the lightweight doors. Short battery life is normally due to an installation problem. With no top clearance the door will jam in the open position and run against the motor overload sensor which will periodically power the motor all day until it is time to close the door again. In it's correct installation the motor will switch off and not operate until night fall.

Another indication of an installation problem is that the vsb should be fail safe. When the batteries run low there will be enough power to shut the door but not open it again teh next day.

Comment by Simon Wells Thu Jul 28 08:10:57 2011
Your explanation makes a lot of sense and would explain why some people have major problems and others none. I guess if you get a battery-powered coop door opener, you need to read the instructions carefully!
Comment by anna Thu Jul 28 10:30:28 2011

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