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We need to alter our chicken house gate to allow chickens to pass through but not wild birds.

We have covered the whole structure with bird-netting to keep wild birds out of the chickens' food, with some of it draped over the gate opening to within about 30cm of the ground.  We need to be able to get in and out of the full-height gate easily ourselves, as well as allowing the chickens to go in and out freely.  The trick is how to do that without allowing wild birds to also pass through.

I thought of leaving the netting draped over most of the open gateway (we shut the inwards opening door only at night time) and then having a smaller gate at the bottom that the chickens can push through at the bottom 30cm, perhaps made of a cafe-blind cut into strips and fixed to a rod attached across the lower part of the gate.

Alternatively, we could cut out some of the lowest horizontal bars of the gate and replace them with a lockable flap, hinged at the top. Any ideas of what the flap could be made of that the chickens would be able to freely pass through and wouldn't be frightened of?  I made a doggy door in another gate out of the lid of a plastic storage container but the chickens don't go through this (and I don't want them to learn how).

I would appreciate any suggestions.
Cheers,
Mandy

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rickharris5 years ago
Almost Impossible - You MAY be able to get the chickens to go through hanging strips of plastic which if heavy enough will keep the smaller birds out

As a complex engineered structure the significant difference between the chickens and the wild birds is weight -

So a weight operated gate would work. there are a number of weight operated feeders about that show the principle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q4W9_n8Iq4  is an example.
That thing's brilliant :)
Neat idea, I built one for our chickens - They get the idea very quickly and it keeps the food clean and dry - I need to make another now as we have 2 pens on the go.
Kiteman5 years ago
You can get cat-flaps that unlock when the correct cat approaches with an RIFD tag on its collar.

You could create something similar for your chickens - give them some sort of RFID tag that triggers an automatically opening door for the chucks.
Chickens have an amazing ability of removing things you "attach" to them. We marked ours with spiral plastic leg rings and of the 20 - 6 managed to remove them - How? no idea they were quite difficult to put on.
mandyc1965 (author)  rickharris5 years ago
Thanks for all your tips and comments. Strangely, I had already looked at that clip and many other similar ones. I don't have a lot of spare time or cash so I had hoped to convince my dad to make me a treadle feeder, thinking that would be the best solution. My dad gave me some bird-netting in the meantime until one of us finds time to make (or buy if I get desperate) a feeder. I'd like to see if we can apply the treadle principle to a gate but will need a simple diagram to follow. Have you come across a good, simple design that a non-technical person could work from?

I awoke this morning to the sight of about 50 sparrows perching on the netting-covered chook run. Had another look about 30min later & the whole flock was inside. They had soon found the 30cm gap at the base of the doorway :) We had to shoo them all out several times until we figured out a way to keep them out. Can't open the door at the moment though. We'll have to wait till the weekend to have time to do something more permanent.
Wild birds can get in through almost anything - Our pen is 10 meters x 3 (30 feet x 10 feet) and totally netted with chicken wire sides and top.

We still get birds finding their way in.

I think your best bet may be to try a very light flap - Perhaps made from some strips of fairly stiff plastic, Perhaps a shower curtain. I think you may be able to get the chickens to walk through this with a bit of help from some food but wild birds won't as they are very shy.

Maybe this counter weighted door would work.

mandyc1965 (author)  rickharris5 years ago
Thanks for that info. I like the idea. My partner wondered if the chicken would get caught in a door set up this way. I suppose you would have to adjust the amount of counter weight so that the door moved fairly slowly back into place. It that how you do it?

I wouldn't want to chop off the chooks' heads prematurely. (Don't think I could bring myself to do that to them anyway, even if they have stopped laying at the moment).
Cheers,
Mandy
see below its a bit more complicated but not that difficult.
Other than that you can easily make a pressure switch chicken size and use it to turn on an electric motor to lift the gate.
lemonie5 years ago
Train the chickens to keep wild-birds out?

L