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Johan used to worry every time Barbara and he went out in the evening. Would an animal get into the hen house and decimate his layers before he got home? Even when he stayed home, he would find himself waking up in the small hours and saying, "Barbara, did you lock up the chickens tonight? I don't remember doing it." Then he would sigh, throw on some clothes, and trudge out through the cold night air to the chicken house just to make sure.

We like our chickens to go out--they have a huge run, and in the late fall and winter, forage in our vegetable garden, but with raccoons, foxes, coyotes, dogs and other nighttime predators in the neighborhood, locking them up every night is essential. In 1998 Johan developed a remote, photo-controlled door closure that automatically shuts the chicken house door 45 minutes after sunset. (The number of minutes is determined by a timer.) At the same time, a light goes on to encourage the hens to eat more so that they lay better during the shorter hours of winter. The light can be set to turn off after 4 hours with an optional timer. At sunrise the photo control signals the door to open. This invention is working so well on our farm that Johan has produced and sold these easily installed units. Below is a unit he sold to a farmer in the next town. He believes that they would also be attractive to homesteaders with small flocks who would like to be able to go away for the weekend without having to hire someone to open and shut the poultry house each day.

Assembled unit with timer and photocell

You can contact Johan at johanachterberg@sbcglobal.net

Johan van Achterberg
Hidden Meadow Farm
359 Silver Hill Rd.
Easton, CT 06612
(203) 261-2156
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