The joys of a chicken pop door system.
Muffy walks through the pop door into the pet enclosure with the lime tree. In this case the chicken tunnel angles up from the coop to a higher garden bed.
Pop doors for chickens are a ‘must-have’ garden chicks accessory.
They are a chicken-sized door that is needed alongside the people-sized access door or gate. Pop doors make managing chickens easy. My inventive grandfather fitted pop doors on long levers that you could work from outside the yard, and I copied that when I got my first flock.
Security from predators is the prime use of a pop door.
• The traditional use of a pop door is as a secure overnight lock up for the coop.
The coop is locked up at night by dropping down a sliding pop door to keep foxes, dogs and rats out. It is absolutely essential to lock up your hens each night.
• Foxes and dogs can open some catches and doors, and the coop pop door needs to be have a lip underneath the bottom of the slide to prevent lifting.
Pop door size
• With small and medium sized hens a pop door 300mm wide and 320mm high works well. Ducks, turkeys and bigger fowls need a bigger door. A 2-3 mm aluminium slide has enough weight to easily slide down when released, and to work well with all the main brands of automatic chicken doors that I use.
• How it works.
The slide runs up and down between two grooves (usually the readily available “sail track” aluminium extrusion). With the grooves as the side verticals, three cross braces are riveted across on the horizontal to make it hold its shape so it doesn’t jam. (see picture below)
• The pop door slide goes up and down by attaching a cord. The idea is to put a small handle on the slide and attach a cord to the handle and then put a loop in the cord so as to hook the slide in the “up” position in the morning so the chicks can go in and out to their pet enclosure.
How to use pop doors
• Do yourself and your chickens a huge favor and install an automatic door on the main coop. This means that you do not have to get home to lock them up every night at dusk, nor get up early on the weekend. You will save chicken lives, and have a social life.
My pet enclosure (and the spare coop) just has a cord with a loop and a hook to adjust the height.
The ultimate coop has two pop doors.
• Ideally the best coop needs to have a pop door at each end so the side access to the coop is always facing the right way. With only one pop door and when you are squeezing a coop alongside a wall or tree, your doors might open to the wall.
• To see into the coop, at the end that doesn’t have a working pop door you may want to fit a 4 or 5 mm “clear polycarbonate” slide as a window (Perspex is too fragile). I drill a small thumbhole near the top so I can lift the slide out if needed. The chickens appreciate looking out and being part of the family as much as we like looking in.
• Pop doors work directing and stopping traffic into chicken tunnels and pet enclosures.
Pet enclosures are usually supplied with a human sized access gate, but obviously they all need an extra pop door sized hole cut in for the chickens to enter from the coop via their chicken tunnel, and to wander back and forth to lay an egg.
But an actual pop door across this hole in the pet enclosure fence is worth its weight in gold. It isolates the chickens in either the coop or the pen without having to reset the automatic door timer. I use it at least three times a week, sometimes that often a day.
Fitting the pop door
• Fitting the pop door to a flat surface like a shed wall or sheet iron fence is a matter of marking out the hole just a fraction bigger than the slide, and smaller than the frame. Try to get any rough edges covered by the surrounding frame. Drill through the pop-door frame and screw, bolt or rivet.
• Fitting a pop door to a pet enclosure is best done with bottom clamps.
Mesh pet enclosures have a pipe frame at the bottom and we supply two clamp ends to attach the bottom cross rail to the pipe, and then cut out the mesh and wire the cross pieces of the pop door to the wire mesh.
Chain mesh pet enclosures are often initially cheaper than welded mesh but in the case of fitting pop doors and the total installation time they can end up costing more. Chain mesh will require at least some extra framing and tensioning.