Posted By Jonathan on March 2, 2016
I mentioned yesterday that we have made our chicken raising a bit easier by automating some things. I built an automatic door opener using a motorized car antennae last November and it has worked flawlessly since then. When it gets to 15 F or below, it does have some problems going up but the chickens are still able to get in and out.
The door is controlled by a timer and has two electrical connections going to it. One is always on and the other gets powered when the door is shut (so at night). The wiring consists of two DC adapters (the kind you use for small electronics such as laptops) that are connected to the wires coming from the antennae. They get plugged into an AC power source, which is the timer. It is very simple once you figure it out!
The door itself is made out of a plastic tote lid. It was the only thing I could find which was light enough for the motor to lift, yet wouldn’t warp from sun and rain like cardboard would.
Here’s a photo of it closed.
Here is a closeup of how I connected the lifter to the door. I put a piece of metal strapping across the antennae and bolted it on with bolts and nuts.
To make feeding and watering a lot easier we invested in some large containers. The feed bin lasts about 2 weeks between filling and the watering container would last for a couple of months but I clean it out every few weeks. It is a 10 gallon fermenting tank normally used for brewing beer. You can find them on brewery sites. We also put in a bird bath heater so that it stays unfrozen, even in sub-zero temps. Its a great investment for winter chicken keeping!
I built their roost out of an old rickety wooden ladder we had sitting around doing nothing. They love it.
I also built a smaller roost in front of the windows so they can sun themselves on cold frosty days. They have made good use of it. 🙂 We also built new windows for them. We had 4 nice sized windows laying around and so we built some runners and installed some hooks so we can slide the windows up and down.
Finally, here are the nesting boxes. Nothing special about these, they were built using scrap plywood last fall. They serve the job well and are very cheap! Look at all those eggs! We got 9 today. The other 3 are golf balls. 🙂