I talked a while back about different build outs for my chicken run. I talked about using chicken nipples to provide clean water at all times without having to babysit their waterer. The third item that I built for them was a very inexpensive feeder.
The feeder consists of a 5 gallon bucket, a 1.25 gallon painters bucket and a piece of cheap hanging lamp chain. Any chain will work; this is what I had lying around the garage. I used a 2.5″ hole saw to drill 4 holes equally around the lower section of each of the two buckets. The bottoms of the holes are about 1.5″ from the bottom of the buckets. I bolted the center of the bottom of the smaller bucket through the center of the 5 gallon bucket and offset the holes by 45 degrees. I attached the chain to the handle so that it would hang from the top of the coop.
4 Days of Food
I can pour 4 days worth of food into the small bucket put the lid back on the big bucket and hang it up inside the coop about 15″ off the floor. The girls have easy access to the food all day long. There are a couple of benefits to this system.
1. No wasted food.
2. The girls eat when they wan,t without me worrying about whether they spilt their food and it got trampled into the dirt, mud or poop. So before you write to me commenting on the fact the chickens eat bugs, dirt, sand and anything else they may find, I just prefer to keep their water and food clean.
3. The way it hangs by the handle the girls cannot climb on top and make a mess of the bucket.
4. Very easy to refill and hang back up.
Since one of the reasons I got chickens was because I wanted better quality eggs, I will mix in flaxseed into the bucket of feed. This increases the omega-3 in the eggs. By the way, this is how egg producers can advertise that their eggs are enriched with omega-3 and charge a premium price. If you decide to add flaxseed to their food, make sure it does not exceed 10% of their total feed. If you overfeed them flaxseed it can cause a reduction in eggs, thin egg shells and small egg size.
Rodent control is something that everyone should be aware of. I have been blessed with only one small rat that I caught in the run one day. I trapped it the next day and got rid of the problem. I continued setting the trap for two weeks with no further visitors. I set out the trap with peanut butter on top of the run so that the girls would not get hurt. A couple of years ago we caught a opossum in the dog food but have not seen any since.
We crush up the egg shells and give it back to them to help replenish the calcium in their diet. Some will ask if this will encourage them to become egg eaters and the answer at this point is no. Now since my girls are very smart (hey they told me so) whenever I refill their free choice feeder I ask them if they want some crushed calcium chips instead of the e-g-g word. They say N-O. They also have crushed oyster shells but obviously prefer the eggshells.
On last sidebar, I have not done this yet but I am going to take another 1.25 gallon painters bucket, invert it, cut off the bottom and tape it to the top of the small bucket to increase the quantity of feed.
Why does a chicken coop have only two doors?
If it had four, it would be a chicken sedan.