An issue with my auto-opener
QI have an automatic door-opener on my chicken house, which is inside a fox-proof run. I use the door-opener in winter and just leave the door open in summer. One morning, the door hadn’t opened, and they’d picked on the smallest girl quite badly. Can I just leave the door open in winter, or will the chickens get too cold? I have four hybrid hens, one frizzled bantam cockerel and a Japanese bantam.
AAnne Perdeaux says: Automatic door-openers are great, but regular checks are essential. Could the fault be simply the batteries? Opening takes more power than closing, so this is often the first function to fail. Leaving the pophole open overnight isn’t a good idea, even in a fox-proof run. Foxes can be very determined, and other predators may gain access to vulnerable roosting chickens – even rats may attack them. An open pophole is also likely to create an unhealthy draught, and if the coop is too hot in summer, it would be better to install extra ventilation at roof level.
Japanese bantams aren’t very hardy, and being so close to the ground are susceptible to getting damp and chilled. They need well-insulated housing and often require extra warmth in winter. These docile little birds are likely to be bullied in a mixed flock, especially one that contains full-sized chickens. When she has recovered I suggest you house the Japanese bantam separately with another small companion (perhaps the bantam cockerel), as reintroducing her to the flock may well result in further attacks.
There is a Facebook page for the Japanese Bantam Club which you may find helpful.
An auto-opener on a hen house. INSET: A Japanese bantam Photo: Terry Beebe