Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Homemade Chicken Feeder

I have a lot of chickens, almost 100! Years ago I started out with 25, but over time they have increased in numbers. I'm comfortable with 50. That's the number that I can feed with just home grown and foraged food. But now that the flock has swelled to twice that, I need to provide some commercial feed. While I still continue to make food for them as I did before, I simply cannot spare enough time to keep the birds strictly on home produced food. Another time factor is that the birds now reside at the community garden and I only spend a limited amount of time there each day. 

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. 

I plan to use lightweight chain or rope in place of the bungee cords. That will be more stable and last longer. I might need to anchor the catbox in some fashion, but for now I'll just observe and see how things go. No need to make it complicated. 

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. 


  1. Wow! How to feed a battalion of buck-buck-bagawks! I must keep that idea in mind if ever I get to running such a herd. I have yet to fire up one of the decrepit coops out back, but I am gathering lots of ideas and information to try it some day. Here's another DIY feeder idea:
    Looks pretty doable to me.
    Hey, I just happened to notice, in your update on the lawn-to-garden bed conversion - is that a "grot" sitting in front of a Havahart trap?? (last photo in that post).

  2. Barry, that's one nice, big lava toe, isn't it! It was given to me by a friend so that I can incorporate it into some sort of garden art. I haven't yet decided exactly what I'm going to do with it. He also brought me a large (90 lbs) flat lava slab that was smoothed by wave action. It will used as a stepping stone as part of garden art too. Or perhaps I will save it to use as an entry step into a workshop down at my seed production farm.

    I've had people give me some pretty nifty lava rocks. Ropey pahoehoe, wave carved rock, rounded beach rocks, that sort of thing.