Monitoring the chicken coop with a web cam? Yes, I do. Several of them in fact.
And even send video to live streaming onto YouTube from time to time, like when the hen goes broody and the chicks are about to hatch. It is a great deal of fun to hear from the granddaughters that they could watch the new chicks peek their heads out from under the momma hen.
So what is involved? The simplest is to get a wireless IP camera and monitor it with your smart phone. Generally the apps come with the camera or a qr code link to scan the camera to install the app. Once the camera is setup, they can be monitored on your phone, your tablet, your pc, or remotely via a cloud service.
There are many options once your camera is setup. Blue Iris and similar programs allow you to monitor multiple cameras on your desktop pc and send alerts via email if an alarm condition is met, such as motion sensor, or sound sensor detects an event.
Cameras can be fixed or include PTZ, Pan,Tilt, Zoom features which allow you to remotely control the camera view. Some cameras include audio monitoring and some even have two way audio. Cameras are sometimes equipped with IR, generally known as Infra Red, so they offer night time viewing as well. These “see in the dark” cameras are a real bonus for monitoring your flock at night. With Cloud storage or an internal SD card storage, many cameras will record the action so you can play it back later.
I started out in 2014 using a pair of D-Link DCS-930L cameras. These are 640p resolution, do not offer night viewing and are a fixed view. Later, I bought a Foscam R2, a couple of Deecam D200 and then an Amcrest camera.
As the price of the camera went up, so did the quality of the image, the features and quality of the software and the overall satisfaction in the camera.
It goes without saying then, my favorite camera in the chicken coop is also the one that was the most expensive. So that camera is mounted where I can take advantage of the better image quality. This one is the Amcrest camera. I bought the silver color as it was a few dollars less than the more popular black and white colors. For the chicken coop, it really does not matter what color the camera is. I have 32 Gig SD memory cards installed in the cameras. The Amcrest camera allows easy access to view video recordings.
The Foscam R2 camera is set to be able to see the west end inside of the chicken coop. For evening and night viewing, it is usually pointed to the roost to enable us to do a chicken count as the chickens are settling in for the night. During the day, we frequently have in pointed downward to look into the next boxes to monitor the hens as they go about their egg laying activities. We can get an idea of which hen is laying, which ones are just testing out the nest boxes and watching for a hen going broody. The Foscam R2 field of view is a bit less of a wide angle view than from the Amcrest. Fully zoomed in they are about the same. The R2 preset functions seem to be easier to use than the Amcrest preset functions. I do use the preset function on the R2 more than I need on the Amcrest so it might just be a familiarization with the controls that are the real difference.
The Deecam D200’s were less than half the price of the inside cameras, but give me two more views. These are mounted under the roof so mostly out of the weather, and are looking outside the chicken coop. As they have the PTZ movements, I can see most of the outside area around the coop. The biggest downfall on these cameras is in the night vision, and while it works well enough to see predators approaching the coop, they do not have the great imaging I would like to have. And they do not have nearly the flexibility in the software as do the Amcrest and Foscam cameras.
The Deecam cameras I purchased online from Wal Mart. The process went well. However, when I attempted to contact the company selling the cameras for some tech support, I got no response. None. Notta. Not even a no we won’t help with that. Nothing. Perhaps this is why they are no longer listed. I think I got my money’s worth out of the cameras, but I don’t recommend them.
The D-link 930 cameras gave me an inexpensive intro into the cameras and a few are still available. These are way behind current technology and really not up to performing many useful tasks in watching your chickens.