I've toyed with various ways to feed the hens. And I've concluded that the best use of my time would mean having some sort of feeder for the dry commercial feed. I searched the Internet intending to buy a feeder....a quick fix, but I was taken back by the cost. Hhuumm. Bet I could make something myself.
I figured that if I was going to put time and effort into a feeder, then why restrict myself to making it small like the feeders I saw on the Internet. No reason I couldn't make a feeder that would hold enough feed to last a week, or even more. So I got to thinking. Oh, I came up with all sorts of designs. But after sleeping on them, one by one I rejected them for some reason or other. Some of the designs were rather clever, if I do say so myself. Hah, Sue, you're clever! But these dreams often involved complicated designs and expensive materials. And in the shadows of my mind, some little creature kept whispering "KISS" -- keep it simple, stupid.
Ultimately I caved into the KISS principle. I purchased a trashcan on sale for $9.99 plus tax. Cut a hole along the bottom edge about 8 inches long by 2 inches wide. I then took a cracked, discarded old catbox and cut off one side. Now I set the trashcan in the chicken pen along one wall, propping up the rear bottom on the 4" high frame of the pen. This nicely tilted the trashcan, allowing the pellets and grain to flow out the hole. So that the trashcan would remain stable I attached it to the pen fencing by running bungee cords from the trashcan handles to the fence. Now I slid the 3 sided catbox under the trashcan in a way that it would catch and confine to chicken feed. I positioned it close to the trashcan so that the hens could not climb into it and scratch the feed out.
Now with the pieces in place, it was time for the test run. I dumped 50 lbs of feed into the trashcan and put on the lid. The girls investigated immediately. Instantly they began eating, having no problem figuring it out. I watched the girls off and on for about an hour, waiting to see if they would figure out how to muck it up. But the design turned out to be a winner. The only problem I'm anticipating is that the hens might try to roost on the lid. That wouldn't be a disaster, though it could get messy. But it might be too slanted for them to be successful in sleeping there. We shall see.
So I've come up with a nice, large feeder for a cash outlay of a bit over $10. The bungee cords or rope or chain comes out of my recycle/reuse/repurpose pile. The broken catbox was destined for the dump. Hey, not bad!
It's been 24 hours and the feeder is still working just fine. It turned out that the hens didn't sleep on the lid last night, so let's hope it stays that way.