Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
Like a lot of owners, we worry about our chickens being attacked by predators. We have the difficult situation where we keep our chickens completely out of sight from the house in the field with our horses. Having watched foxes playing several times in the fields and seen what happens when they get into the coop we were really keen to get a secure and safe option for them.
Our chickens were a gift for my sons 6th birthday and they are his pride and joy, I can’t imagine how distraught he would be if anything happened to them. When he heard that we were lucky enough to be able to try out a self-locking door kit he was waiting daily for the parcel to arrive. Being super excited on arrival day and continually hassling Daddy meant that they set off with the box of goodies that evening to see if they could fix it in place.
The Combi Kit includes both the door and the self-closing control unit. On opening the box we found a booklet of instructions, a pack of fixings, a pack of batteries, a plastic door kit with runners and a box with a LCD display that looked a bit like a heating thermostat. The instructions were brilliant, really easy to set up, but our existing coop is homemade and required a slight modification to the existing manual door before fixing the new self-closing door. The installation became a family affair with my husband creating a new wooden frame, it basically needed a greater overhang, and my son painting it to match existing. After the paint dried and the frame fixed on it only took around 15-20 minutes to complete the installation of the door, fix the closing mechanism and set up the timer. If you had a shop brought coop I can imagine you would be ready to go in twenty minutes. The Premium ChickenGuard has several options to choose from on set up, you can raise and lower manually, set up on a timer, a light sensor or a combination of both. The sensor option automatically opens the coop door at dawn and closes it at dusk using the light sensor included in both the Premium and Extreme model control unit. The timer option automatically opens and closes the coop door at a time you set yourself on the control unit, useful if you want the chickens in slightly longer than dawn to dusk. The LUX+ uses a combination of both the sensor and timer settings. You set a default time on the control unit, the door then closes using the light sensor, unless it’s not dusk when the default time is reached, then the timer overrides the sensor and closes the door. We set it up on the LUX+ setting as it seemed the best of both worlds and it was very easy to set up.
The buttons on the weatherproof control unit are big, useful for gloved hands in winter and the LCD display is large and clear. Now for the exciting bit, we set the timer and waited for action. As the display hit the time the door seamlessly raised to my son’s delight, what a great piece of kit! The next morning I went down early just to check it had worked and the chickens were pecking around in the run and the door was neatly in place at the top of the runners, having worked exactly as it should have.
The door raises and lowers on a pulley system, we have a standard up-down configuration, but the mechanism fits pretty much any configuration. There is a full page on the website demonstrating how the doors work so worth taking a look if you are not sure. The ChickenGuard control unit comes complete with the 4x AA batteries required to operate the mechanism, but you can run from an external electric source should you prefer and have one nearby. The control unit has a USB port on the underside where you can plug in a USB cable and charger to plug in the mains, this isn’t supplied but they are easy to obtain fairly cheaply on the high street.
The ChickenGuard Locking Combi Premium takes the hassle out of having to open and close the door at sunrise and sunset. This undoubtedly means the chickens will never again have to be put away early when going out or left in late when we want a lie in at the weekend. It feels like the chickens will follow a much more natural lifestyle following the pattern of the daylight. It will also be a godsend when going away for the weekend as finding someone to pop down and to feed and collect eggs is a lot easier than finding someone to open and close morning and evening.
For ease of operation, safety, security and peace of mind the ChickenGuard Premium is worth every penny and I will be recommending it to my friends and family.
RRP: £160.99-£179.99 (Combi packs) / £30-£39.99 (Door Kits) / £114.99-£154.99 (Door openers)
For more information or to buy visit www.chickenguard.co.uk.