Two chicken runs

@TracySmith and his son have come up with a slick solution for a common problem most urban chicken farmers face. Tracy has two runs for his chickens and with the addition of a manual switch and a second actuator to their CoopBoss they can select the active run for their hens. By switching between two runs like this he is managing his hen’s tendency to overgraze. Chickens like to scratch and dig when they eat, it is instinct and a little bit funny but they can’t help it. They will scratch at their food even if it is in bowl or on a wood floor. The scratching sound attracts the other hens, if one hen finds food the others will come running in no time to scratch along side her. As you can imagine the scratching destroys the vegetation and can create a muddy unsanitary mess for the hens. By switching between runs the vegetation in the inactive run is allowed to recover and new growth can get established.

Tracy’s video walk through:

To follow the technical discussion on this project you can visit the CoopBoss support forum here.

Well done and thanks for sharing!!


I based my install largely on the one from @rod97301 (see this post: Cool Chicken Coop Door controlled by SmartThings).

This is our CoopBoss Parts List for anyone interested:

The CoopBoss itself: CoopBoss

Linear Actuators: We went with less expensive models due to the budget ($75) but should work just fine. They travel a little slower but the chickens don’t mind:
WINDYNATION 12 Inch 12" Stroke Linear Actuator 12 Volt 12V 225 Pounds lbs Maximum Lift (Includes Mounting Brackets)

Cutting Board for the doors: (look for the “Tan” color - thanks to @rod97301 for this idea!)
Commercial Plastic Cutting Board, NSF - 18 x 12 x 0.5 inches

Junction Box for the 2 linear actuators and 2 power lines coming to them. This project box has a terminal block inside for nice neat and easy connections:
SamIdea Junction Project Box: 83x81x56mm 1In 2Out Waterproof Electric Junction Project Box with 6 Position 15A Barrier Terminals, PG9 Cable Glands, White Gray

Project Box for our “open/close” button and the Switch:
Hammond 1591ESBK ABS Project Box, Black

2-way switch to switch power from one door to the other:
Morris 70130 Heavy Duty Toggle Switch, DPDT, On-On, Screw Terminals, 2 Poles

Wiring Clips:
RG6 Single Coax Cable, Cat6, Electrical Wire Cable Clip, 1/4 in (6 mm) Screw Clip and Fastener, Black (100 pieces per bag)

Actuator Power Wire:
We bought a couple lengths of wire on eBay. By looking for scraps there we got 20 feet of 14ga for $2 and a 40’ partial roll for $6. You only really need 16 or 18 ga depending on the length of the run) Look for: Plenum Rated Fire Security Alarm Access Control Cable Wire 16/2 or 18/2 FPLP or Carol 16/2C or 18/2C Solid Shield Plenum Fire Alarm Cable Wire FPLP/CL3P.

I’m sure you can just use regular old 16 or 18 AWG wire but I noticed fire-rated/plenum rated fire/security/control cable is what John ships with the CoopBoss so I went with that for our long cable run too.

Track for Doors:
2 lengths for the top:
“h” Track (Aluminum lower case ‘h’ extruded section with 5/8" opening by Brunner Enterprises)
Special thanks to @rod97301 for the idea of this “h” track that worked PERFECTLY. It’s not cheap (I have 2 pieces left - PM me to buy them!!) but it is EXACTLY right for the job.
Stock number H500

And 2 Lengths of cheaper channel for the bottom: from Lowes:
2: “c” Channel Track 4’ long; 1/2" w x 5/8" H:
NOTE: You cannot put any screws in this track where the door will slide or it will jam, but if you’re careful, you can measure and put screws on either side of the door path. The channel is rigid enough to stay in place even under load if you put a couple screws to the left and right of the door travel area.

Solar Radiation Shield for the outdoor temperature sensor (we can only mount ours on the Southeast side, so this keeps the reading more accurate and shields the sensor from the sun):
AcuRite 06054M Temperature & Humidity Solar Radiation Shield

Mounting Hardware:
4: Stainless Flathead Screws 1/4-20 x 1 1/2" and 4: 1/4-20 Nylon Insert Lock Nuts for mounting the actuator bracket (which ships with the actuator) to the Cutting Board doors:

I did use a “countersink” drill bit that I already had to countersink into the plastic, making the flathead screw flat along with the board.

4: Stainless #10 x 1.25 Screws for mounting Actuator Brackets to 2x4: (find a 1/2" washer as needed - should have used a #12, #14 or #16 screw but the #10 with a washer works ok).

About 16 Stainless 3/4" long Screws for mounting the “h” track to the coop: