The ChickenGuard is one of the latest automatic chicken door opener/closers. I test the Chicken Guard Premium model on my chicken coop door at my Herefordshire Smallholding in this Equipment Focus.
I have owned several automatic chicken door openers/closers. I started with my first one, a VSB Chicken Door Opener, around 2005 and ended up buying more auto doors in the following years as our flock and the number of chicken houses expanded!
Of course, reliability is paramount when you’re counting on an auto chicken door to lock up your coop. Failure of the door-closer at night could lead to a predator gaining access to your chicken house, so before writing this review, I wanted to make sure I gave the Chicken Guard a good test so I could check the reliability.
I have had the Chicken Guard door opener running since the end of 2019 (fourteen months and counting) and haven’t had any problems and it is working reliably. The manufacturer is certainly confident about their product, because they provide a 3 year warranty on the Chicken Guard.
Description of the ChickenGuard
The products were designed and built-in Cambridge, UK. The circuit board is mounted inside a watertight plastic box. There is a rubber seal that ensures the lid is watertight. A battery pack takes 4 x AA batteries and a small motor that winds the cord in and out to raise and lower the door.
On the front, there is an illuminated display and three large rubber buttons that are easy to press, even while wearing gloves during the winter. On the premium version, there is a light sensor to the left of the buttons which measures the amount of daylight, so the ChickenGuard can open or close the chicken house door at sunrise or after sunset.
Raise door/menu up
Lower door/menu down
Wake up/menu select
The menu system is easy to follow, with options being selected by the up and down buttons and selected with the central button.
There are different features available on different versions of Chickenguard.
All models are battery operated with optional mains power. There is a battery level indicator to show the state of the batteries, I think this is essential, because it allows you to replace the batteries before they run flat and the unit stops working. It’s best not to take any chances!
They come with a 3-year warranty and have a timer that allows you to open and close the door at preset times. The door can also operate manually using the open/close buttons.
The Standard and Premium versions can lift a chicken house door to 1Kg, and the Extreme version can lift a hefty 4Kg.
The ChickenGuard Standard version only has a timer for opening and closing the door. This would be suitable on a house for ducks, geese or turkeys because they don’t put themselves to bed.
You would be able to close the door manually and set an open time for the door in the morning. You could also use this version for a chicken house; however, you would need to adjust the door closing time several times per year to fit in with the time your chickens go to roost as daylight hours change or close the door manually.
For the slight price difference, I would go for the Premium!
The ChickenGuard Premium version has the addition of a light sensor. This is the version I would recommend for chicken houses. You can set a fixed time for opening in the morning and close the door as soon as it gets dark, protecting your chickens from nighttime predators.
ChickenGuard Premium Eco
The ChickenGuard Premium Eco version has the same features as the Premium, except charcoal colour and is manufactured from recycled plastic.
The ChickenGuard Extreme version has a more powerful motor and is able to lift a door weighing up to 4Kg. It can operate in extreme weather conditions.
Self-locking door kit
There is an optional self-locking door kit available. This is a strong and lightweight plastic door that locks itself when it is fully closed.
The self-locking door kit is available to buy separately or can sometimes be found bundled with some of the ChickenGuard units I listed above.
I would recommend using this door-kit over a wooden door.
Well, of course, it’s strong and locks, so the door cannot be lifted by predators once closed, but another less obvious reason is that it is lightweight, and that will extend the life of your batteries and reduce wear and tear on the cord and motor.
I had four different automatic chicken doors on my chicken coops; the two with heavy wooden doors needed the batteries replaced regularly and had the cords fray and break after extended use.
A lightweight door will pay off in the long run and save you money in replacing batteries.
The locking is performed by two spring-loaded plastic hooks and come out of the door into slots in the side rails when the door is fully lowered. This prevents the door from being lifted, as I demonstrate in the video that’s coming up below.
Installing the automatic chicken door
Installation of the self-locking door kit and ChickenGuard automatic chicken door unit was straightforward. There are clear step-by-step instructions provided.
I removed the existing pop-hole on my coop and installed the two runners of the self-locking door kit, being sure to keep them vertical and spaced such that the door would slide up and down easily.
The Chicken Guard is attached with four screws in a position above the door, so the string hangs vertically above the door’s attachment loop.
The string is tied onto the door, and then using the setup wizard, a calibration routine is performed.
Calibration involves moving the door to the fully open and fully closed position so that the Chicken Guard knows how much it should move the door by.
Here are the different operating modes that can be independently set for open or close:
- Manual: you need to manually press the UP or DOWN button to open or close the door. Useful for waterfowl or other poultry that don’t put themselves to bed.
- Sensor: The door will automatically open or close according to the amount of daylight. The light level is adjustable. Note: there is no sensor mode on the Standard version.
- Timer: Opens or closes the door according to the timer setting.
- Lux+: Uses a combination of light and timer. It will close using the light sensor when it gets dark, but if it isn’t dark enough when the timer setting is reached, it will close the door.
There are different operating modes on different versions of the ChickenGuard automatic chicken door. My version is the ChickenGuard Premium that includes a light sensor, which is important for me: I can set the door to close when the light levels fall and my chickens have gone to roost. Only the Standard version doesn’t have a light sensor.
There are two settings: One to open the door and the other to close the door. You can set these independently, so in my case, I set Door Open to Timer, and I set it for 7:30 am opening, and Door Close to Light Sensor, so the door automatically closes just after dark when my chickens have gone into the house to roost.
If the Door Open setting were set to Light Sensor, then during the summer, my hens would be let out in the early hours when the sun comes up, and I’m still in bed, and Mr Fox is still doing his rounds!
A multi-timer option allows you to set different open/close cycles for different days. This could be useful for example on weekends, to keep your chickens in their coop for longer if you like to sleep in at the weekend.
A feature I really like is that at any point, you can manually open or close the door by pressing the UP or DOWN buttons.
For example, I’m outside earlier than 7:30 am and want to let the hens out; I can do this by pressing the UP button. Likewise, when I’m locking up my ducks at dusk, and the hens have gone in, but it isn’t dark enough to close the door of the coop using the light sensor, I find it reassuring to press the DOWN button to close the chicken house door before I go inside for the night.
There are options to set the light sensor level or add a delay to the closing time if the door is closing before your hens go to roost.
I keep several different breeds and some are earlier to roost than others. My hybrid hens are always last to bed, making the most of every last minute! I found there was no need to make any adjustments. My chickens were in bed a good 10 minutes before the door closed.
An excellent feature is the battery level sensor. The red LED on the front of the unit is permanently lit when the battery level is low. This is very important because some other models don’t have this feature and they may fail unexpectedly, leaving the door open.
The battery voltage level can also be checked via the menu, so if you were leaving your chickens to go on holiday, perhaps leaving chicken-sitters or neighbours to look after things, you could check the battery level.
An external 5V USB power supply can also be used to power the automatic chicken door, there are instructions to fit this since the battery pack needs removing and the battery check needs disabling to prevent false alarms.
The menu can be set to one of eight European or Nordic languages too.
The most likely time for predators like foxes to visit is at night, so your chickens must be locked up safely from dusk until dawn.
If you are worried about being at home in time to lock up your chickens, then the ChickenGuard automatic chicken door might be the answer?
I have found the ChickenGuard to be an excellent unit. There has been a lot of thought in the design, and it’s clearly reliable and can be trusted to lock up your birds, keeping them safe from night time predators. I’m going to give it the full 5 stars, because I simply can’t fault it!
The option to set individual opening and closing times by timer, light level, or manually all adds to this unit’s usefulness and the battery level warning adds piece of mind that it’s not going to stop working without warning. With the optional self-locking door, it makes your chicken coop very secure.