So the site that I was writing for, Heritage Homesteaders, is going under. They will publish my final contribution tomorrow, but have given permission to the authors to reclaim their articles. The following is my final article for Heritage Homesteaders.
I’ve tried every chicken feeder on the market. From the long, squat feeders that sit on the floor of the coop to the hanging feeders that spin on a rope from the ceiling. I’ve tried the ones that have covers with head-sized holes and the ones with a spinning bar across the top to discourage standing in the food. Every time I have purchased a feeder from the store, I’ve been disappointed and frustrated. If the chickens aren’t walking and defecating in their food, then they’re scattering it to the winds and wasting half of it.
I am fed up with store-bought feeders.
My solution came in the form of a pile of scraps from our recent shed-building adventure. We had extra bits and pieces of T1-11 siding, 2×4’s, 2×8’s, OSB, and plenty of fasteners. I sorted through them and came up with a plan. I wanted something that could hold an entire 50# bag of feed. I wanted a feeder that was up off of the floor enough that the chickens couldn’t scratch it all over the place or defecate in it. I wanted something that looked nice and was easy to clean out.
First, I got the general shape of it. It would have a sturdy, wide base. I made it wide enough that it would overlap two wall studs by several inches, that way I could secure it tightly to the coop wall. I used 2×8’s for the base, angling them in toward the 2×4’s that would secure the front of the feeder in place. I added bracing to have something to screw the front to, then cut out the front piece to fit snugly inside the 2×8’s and over top of all of the 2×4’s.
Once the two main pieces were complete, I took them into the coop and installed the main frame onto the wall. I used a few wood scraps to achieve the height from the floor that I thought I would need. The chickens were happy to help me get the measurements right, the nosy things. I secured the feeder to the coop wall studs with four long screws, two on each stud. It easily held my weight, so I knew 50# of feed would be no problem.
My flock is about six weeks old and six to seven pounds each. This breed will more than double in size before they’re done growing, so I raised the feeder a bit above where they were able to comfortably reach now. Plus, as winter comes closer, I’ll be laying down more straw to give them deep litter. If I need to raise the feeder, it will be a simple matter to unscrew the front and raise the entire contraption up.
Next, I installed the front panel and put a strip of panel across the bottom of the feeder to make the feed tray complete. Note that the front panel was a few inches short of making the top. I fixed that with some OSB. It will all get painted eventually, so I’m not worried about it looking like it was made from scrap. The chickens were so curious what this big contraption was!
The final touches included putting on the roofs and filling the feeder with some high quality feed. I made sure to angle them thanks to past experience. Chickens will roost on and completely ruin any flat surface. I filled the feeder, and the birds went bananas fighting over who got to eat first. The only ones that had trouble were my little lavender guineas. They are quite a bit smaller than the chickens and royal purple guineas, but they figured out they were just the right size to perch on the edge and pig out. That will work fine until they finish growing.
So far I’m very pleased with my handiwork. There’s nary a turd in their food and they haven’t wasted a speck by scratching it all over the place. My next project in the chicken coop will be some homemade chicken waterers. If you’ve ever had to use a store-bought waterer, you probably understand my frustrations with them. They’re dirty and wimpy. Sometimes I feel like if I want something to work right on this homestead, I have to make it. Cheers for power tools and ingenuity!
To see how we built our palatial chicken coop, and for future progress updates on its construction, check out my personal blog – The Atheist Homesteader.