Thursday, October 9, 2014

Automatic Chicken Doors and Predatory Chickens

Yesterday Jason and I worked on installing an automatic chicken door that will close at night and open in the morning to let the chickens in and out.  It runs on a 6v lantern battery (about $4) and has a light sensor that tells it when to open or close.  There are many versions on the market, or you can make your own if you are handy with electronics. We chose a galvanized metal version from, a small business that makes and ships the doors from Texas.

We figure this door will be worth the investment when the electric poultry netting gets retired for the winter, the girls will be safely shut up in the coop every night whether we are here to put them in or not.  Installation was fairly easy and instructions were included.  We chose to cut a piece of scrap plywood we had on hand to mount the door on.

Automatic chicken door
Enticing wary chickens to try out the "new door"
Jason finishes the door from inside the coop
The chicken door mounted to painted plywood

Our Silver Laced Wyandotte caught a vole while we were working on the door.  I told her I much preferred this to the snake the chickens caught and ate recently.  We also moved a "chicken work crew" under the pitch pine tree we have.  Jason discovered that an insect called Red Headed Sawfly is wreaking havoc on the pine.  The catepiller stage of this insect is going to town on the pine needles.  We put the chickens under the tree and shook some branches, and they cleaned up the caterpillars as they fell.  Maybe some repeat visits from the work crew will put a dent in the caterpillars population.  Otherwise, I fear this tree may be in trouble.  

Huntress.  This Silver Laced Wyandotte has caught herself a vole to snack on.

Our Pitch Pine tree has a pest!
Delaware hen snacking on Red Headed Sawfly catepillers
Putting the hens to work beneath the pine tree

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