Designing a chicken coop for your beloved birds isn’t something that you can get right on the first trial. There are several things to consider and multiple questions that need to be asked. So, can chickens’ use a dog door?
Dog doors are excellent for your dogs because they allow them to leave the house, enjoy their time in the backyard, and get back without help. But would the same door work for chickens in a coop? Keep on reading to learn more.
Can Chickens Use a Dog Door?
If you install the right size door, chickens will learn how to go in and out of it. Finding the right door can be challenging, as you need to consider the temperature, predators, and flock.
Let’s look at whether a pet door, specifically a dog door, would be a good option for your pet. A dog or pet door is a small door installed to an opening to allow pets to exit any building conveniently.
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If you’re raising chickens in your backyard, you’re probably wondering if the same door that works for dogs, cats, and even rabbits might work for your chickens.
Will Chickens Go Through A Flap Door?
It depends on several factors. Some doors consist of heavy plastic, and the chickens won’t push the door with their heads because it can be too heavy. Plastic doors might let too much light and heat in, making the chickens uncomfortable.
That said, chickens are smart enough to learn how to use a pet door. Here’s a video of one using a dog door.
A wooden door that can be pushed using the pet’s body won’t probably work for your chickens. It might be too heavy and it can accidentally close, trapping the hen inside. Moreover, chickens usually move in large groups, and they will struggle to find their way into the coop with a heavyweight door blocking the way.
Lightweight doors that are made of plastic sheets might work better. If placed away from the sun, the plastic sheets will act as transparent or even opaque curtains that chickens can easily access. Clear flaps might be a little confusing to some chickens, but they will soon learn how to navigate them.
However, even with a lightweight door that was made of a clear plastic flapper, some chickens wouldn’t still be able to get through. Chickens are amazing creatures, and they might be even as intelligent as dogs, but they might not know how to push a door and quickly navigate their way.
A great option would be to consider an automatic door to the coop. This one is easy to control, so you can open it at dawn and place it down at dusk after your chickens have gone inside.
Here’s a video of a chicken going through an automatic chicken door. See how easy it works and closes after the chicken enters or leaves the coop. At first, she fears the door and then goes through it clumsily.
They will eventually learn how to go through the door without looking so clumsy.
If you have a flapper door, you might even have to remove the clear plastic and allow the chickens to move freely, keeping only the door’s frame. However, this will defy the purpose of installing a door that keeps the predators out of the coop.
Why Do Chickens Need a Special Door?
You’re probably wondering why wouldn’t it be OK to build a people-sized door that chickens can quickly get through. However, a people-sized or big door isn’t suitable for your chicken coop for several reasons.
- A big door doesn’t protect the chickens from the elements. It will let the air, rain, and even snow in.
- Predators can easily access a large door.
- A big door doesn’t provide chickens with the needed privacy, especially when they’re laying eggs.
- If chickens are standing in the doorway, the strong wind can slam it shut and injure or even kill your chickens. Therefore, you need a smaller door that won’t be hazardous.
Having the right door can help ensure you don’t leave the door open at night and put your flock at risk.
Best Chicken Coop Door Ideas
There are several chicken coop doors that you can install to make your chickens’ lives easier and happier. Here are a few ideas to consider.
If you’re not into DIY projects or want something super simple to use, you should invest in an automatic door. This door will have a timer that allows you to control the opening and closing times. This will be the perfect option in extreme weather as it’s designed to protect your chickens from the harsh elements.
DIY Wooden Door
Wooden doors will always be in style and are easy to execute if you have some carpentering skills. You’ll have to manually close the door at night and open it in the morning to let your chickens out. However, this is an excellent option because predators won’t be able to access the coop.
If you live in an area where the weather gets too hot in summer, you might think about installing mesh wiring into a wooden frame. This door will keep the predators at bay but will also improve the air circulation inside the coop.
How Big Should a Chicken Door Be?
Before designing or buying a door or pop hole for your chickens, you need to consider several factors.
- The breed you’re raising and the size of your chickens.
- Whether you have roosters or not.
- The frequency of being attacked by aerial predators.
- The weather or climate in your area.
Some breeds are large and need a door that should be at least 12 inches wide and 14 inches high. If you’re raising Jersey Giants, Cochins, or Brahmas, you need to make sure that the door is big enough to let them in.
Although these large breeds can fit through a smaller door, they might not be that comfortable or safe. Smaller breeds can get through a door that can be 10 inches wide and 10 inches high, or even smaller.
If you have roosters in the coop, consider having a more oversized door. Roosters are significantly larger than hens, but they would still fit into a 10 X 10 door by squeezing their bodies.
If aerial predators like eagles and owls represent a recurring threat, you might need to think about installing a larger door. It will provide easy access to the coop in case the chickens are under attack. However, if you have an elevated enclosure that allows the chickens to take shelter under the chicken coop, a smaller door might work.
A large door will be useful in hot weather but bad in cold weather. It will improve the air circulation, allowing your chickens to stay cool when the temperature rises.
However, in the cold months, the coop will be too cold for the birds. Moreover, a large door will let in the rain, wind, and even snow, which damages the bedding and makes the chickens unhealthy.
How High Should the Chicken Door Be Placed?
If the coop is placed directly on the ground, the pop hole or coop door should be installed at least 6 to 12 inches high above the floor level. Chicken coops will require comfortable bedding, and the bedding shouldn’t block the doorway or spill out of the door.
Since the bedding should be 3 to 8 inches thick to work as a cushion and will keep your chickens warm, the door should be placed above floor level. If you have an elevated chicken poop, the door will be higher. Chickens will have no problem accessing the coop and the door using a ladder or a ramp.
Without a ramp or ladder, some chickens will be able to jump and fly into the chicken coop without an issue. However, some chickens can’t fly and will appreciate the ladder’s presence, even if they struggle with using it at first.
When Should You Open and Close the Door?
Generally speaking, a chicken coop door should be closed at night, starting from dusk when all your chickens go inside. It would be best if you also opened it in the morning when your chickens are ready to roam around.
Closing the door at night protects the chickens from predators like weasels, foxes, raccoons, dogs, and even snakes. However, if your chicken run is predator-proof and you’re 100% sure that the coop is safe, you can keep it open.
Keeping the door at night will help if the weather is too hot. It creates drafts that cool the air inside the coop and keep the chickens comfortable as the temperature increases.
It would help if you didn’t open the door at dawn time, as there might still be many predators waiting to attack your birds. Wait until it’s bright daylight to make sure that the chickens are safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Chickens Use A Cat Flap?
Yes, a lightweight door can work. Chickens will learn how to use the cat flap to go in and out of the pen. Ensure it has a lock to keep them protected at night from the elements and predators.
Some chickens might not use a dog door, especially if it’s too heavy. Nevertheless, installing a door is essential to protect the chickens from the elements and predators.
There are several things to consider when you’re picking a door for the coop. Ensure that all chickens can access the door, get into or out of the coop whenever they need to, and close it at night to safely allow your chickens to sleep.
You might need to give your chickens time to get used to the pet door. Once they do, go through it with no issues!