Chicken Feeders

The Freedom Ranger chicks are draining their 5 gallon waterer by early afternoon, and will soon be eating an entire feeder full of food each day so it was time to build more feeders and waterers.  Since I’m making them anyway, I might as well show you how, right?

Start out with two buckets with tight fitting lids and some sort of pan 3-4 inches tall and slightly wider than the bucket.  I use buckets and hog feed pans from TSC.  Total cost per feeder is about $10.  Scavenge buckets if you can to cut costs, but be sure to clean them thoroughly, especially if they previously held paints or chemicals.

For the waterer, drill a series of 1/4 inch holes just below the rim of the bucket, or higher or lower depending on the depth of the pan you’ll be using.  I put 6 holes in each bucket, but you can get by with anywhere from 2 to 20.

The holes should be a couple inches above the bottom of the pan when the bucket is set in the pan upside down.  The height from the bottom of the pan will be the water depth.  The distance from the top of the pan down to the holes determines how level the waterer will have to stay.  If the holes are too high and the waterer is uneven, all the water will run out on the ground.

Fill the bucket with water to just below the holes.  You can fill it higher, but you’ll spill water on your leg when you carry the bucket.

I use old washing machine hoses for filling buckets.  They’re tough enough to hold up to abuse, short enough to drain easily in cold weather, and can usually be found for free.  A hose is much easier than holding a bucket under a spigot.

Make sure you snap the lid on tight.

Flip the bucket into the pan upside down.  The water will drain quickly for a few seconds until suction builds up inside the bucket.  It will gurgle slowly until all the holes are submerged and air can’t be drawn inside.  Make sure all the holes are below the lowest level of the rim of the pan.  If they aren’t, level the waterer with a block of wood so it doesn’t overflow.

That’s it for the waterer.  It will last a day or day and a half for about 10 full grown chickens unless the weather is extremely hot.  In cooler weather it will last a couple days between refills.  If you want to increase the capacity slightly, fill the bucket to the brim and add an inch or two of water to the pan before you put the bucket in.  That will give about a 6 gallon capacity.  But be warned, you’ll get wet.

You’ll need a 1 1/2 inch spade bit or hole saw to make the feeder.

Drill 4 evenly spaced holes as close to the bottom of the bucket as possible.  Drill 4 more about an inch higher in between the first holes.  The lower holes allow all the feed to drain out, while the higher holes increase the depth of the feed in the pan.

The lid isn’t as critical with the feeder because you won’t be flipping the bucket, but if you don’t cover it chickens will be inside it doing what chickens do best.  Pooping.

These feeders and waterers don’t do anything a ready-made setup won’t do, but they’re only about a third the price.  Less if you already have buckets.


Why Chicken Tractors?

A chicken tractor is in its simplest form a mobile chicken pen. They can be built as a simple enclosure, or as elaborate coops complete with nest boxes and feeders.

There are two theories on the origin of the name. The first is that the name comes from the larger enclosures being dragged behind a truck or tractor. The second is that the chickens will dig up and fertilize the ground, thereby replacing the tractor. Both theories work; maybe they’re both true. Continue reading Why Chicken Tractors?