Automatic doors offer greater security and independence for chickens and reduces the workload for those looking after them. This page looks at the pros and cons of chicken doors in general and gives a review of the Hensafe chicken door, which is the one I have.
Unless you have a very large fully enclosed chicken run most people who keep chickens must let them out in the morning and lock them up again at night. An automatic chicken door removes the necessity of doing this. If the chicken owner also has an automatic waterer and feeder (as I do) they can go away for a few days without having to get someone to check on their chickens.
The downside of installing an automatic chicken door is that good quality ones can be relatively expensive. And, while automatic, they still have to be checked regularly to make sure they are working properly.
There are now many automatic chicken doors on the market. However, as I only have ever owned a Hensafe chicken door, I will confine most of my comments to this door.
HENSAFE AUTOMATIC CHICKEN DOOR ADVANTAGES
- ROBUST ALL ALUMINIUM DOOR AND COVER
Most doors I looked at had plastic covers, which probably would not last long in the hot Australian sun.
- SOLAR POWERED
Only two doors I found on the market had a solar option.
- MOST COMPONENTS SOLD SEPARATELY AS SPARE PARTS
Many of the cheaper doors on the market must be entirely replaced if a component fails.
- HAS THE OPTION OF CONNECTING TO MAINS POWER
Most doors on the market are powered by non-rechargeable AA batteries. Though note that there is no option to buy the door without the solar panel.
- MADE IN AUSTRALIA
At least the exterior part, the timer and motor are made overseas.
HENSAFE AUTOMATIC CHICKEN DOOR DISADVANTAGES
- THE TIMER SCREEN IS SMALL AND THE SETUP PROCESS NOT VERY USER FRIENDLY
The first time I set it up it took me several goes to get it to work properly.
- REPLACEMENT BATTERIES ARE NON-STANDARD AND ARE RELATIVELY EXPENSIVE
You must buy the replacement batteries from Hensafe. The battery pack they supply appears to use the older NiCad batteries instead of the more modern NiMH ones.
- THERE IS NO LIGHT SENSOR OPTION
Which means you must manually adjust the times the door opens and closes as the seasons change.
- DOES NOT COME WITH AN EXTERNAL LOW BATTERY WARNING LIGHT
Though it does come with an internal battery charge level indicator, however you must lift the lid off to view it.
So would I buy a Hensafe door if I had to buy a new automatic chicken door again? Well maybe. Since I bought my door several impressive looking automatic chicken doors have come on the market that deserve serious consideration. There is definitely room for Hensafe to bring out an improved more up to date model.
LEFT: Overall view of my Hensafe automatic chicken door. RIGHT TOP: The solar panel the door comes with. RIGHT BOTTOM: Closeup of the control panel.
Hensafe chicken door in action.