A Smart Chicken Coop

Yesterday, we announced the runners-up of our Show Us Your SmartThings contest. Today, we’re excited to present the winning entry from John in Illinois.

We’ve seen lots of amazing customer stories during SmartThings’ few young years, but we’ve never quite received a story like this one. Here’s what John sent us…


“About 6 weeks ago we lost 3 of our 5 free range chickens in a massacre by a mink.

My wife had those chickens for years and over that time she gave each one a name and kept track of them every day. They were also special to me since they provided my lunch several times a week: fresh egg sandwiches.

Well, that night both my wife and I forgot to close the chicken coop door and a mink walked in and ripped them apart, it was a bloodbath! He pulled them down off their perch one at a time and just gutted them, the coop was full of feathers. He only took one with him for food and killed the other two for sport.

A few days later my wife brought home five baby chicks, moved my car out of the garage and set them up in a tub with a heat lamp. She was not going to put them in the coop until I made improvements. I could tell she no longer felt like it was a safe place for her chicks, I had to do something.

Fast forward to today: My car is back in the garage and I have version one of our new chicken coop controller (“Coop Boss”) up and running. My goal was to make a reliable and simple coop door control that would automatically close and open the coop door based on Sunset and Sunrise. Chickens (with religion) go into their coop just before sunset. They can’t see well in the dark, so this is just Mother Nature working.

Now we use the SmartThings iPhone app to check on the door’s status and close or open it. And if we forget to close the door, the Coop Boss will do it for us based on sunset. It’s been working great. Oh, and we also have a Dropcam in the coop and use the SmartThings app to look in on them.” – John


Editor’s Note: If you’ve become as emotionally invested in the wellbeing of John’s chickens as I have, you can now stay in touch with them remotely. How? Well, because they have their own Facebook page. You can also see a live video feed of them via the coop’s Dropcam.

As John reports: “You should see lots of action during sunset as the chicks start fighting for a position on the perch. Of course, you’ll see the door close at sunset–about 8:20 pm Central time these days.”

Squawk on, chicks. Squawk on.

(Feature image by Flickr user David Goehring)

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  • Will Collins

    I feel your pain. This year alone I have lost thousands of dollars worth of chickens to foxes (rare, imported Ayam Cemani). I really like your automated door. Unfortunately with foxes, they strike during the day as well. Hopefully your solution keeps your chickens alive. Fingers crossed for you.

    • Xenobio

      Holy cow, you keep Ayam Cemani? Which part of the world do you live in and how do you get a hold of them?

  • Seth Dobrin

    Does anyone know if the code and designs are up on Git?

  • Ryan Finkbiner

    I think this is great and it’s so good to hear you found a solution. There are also doors out there that run off light sensors and solar power to open and close and they seasonally adjust due to the light sensor. I have no affiliation with these people but the “pullet shut” door people make an excellent door and I have two now– one for the main coop and one for the bachelor pad!