We’ve been using a chicken feeder we made from scrap parts ever since the chickens were two months old. Lately it’s been driving Robin a little crazy. Our eleven laying hens eat about 100 lbs of feed a month, which translates into refilling their small and awkward feeder every 3 days. After 7 months, it was time to build something better.
Having reviewed various suggestions online, I was struck by the simplicity of the feed hopper design at the top right of chapter 5 of Handy Farm Devices. Make a box. Install a lip to serve the feed and an angled panel to hold the feed. Add a hinged panel to fill. Simple! Of course, nothing I embark on is quite that simple, but I liked the concept. My version is this:
As you can see, I made a number of improvements to the basic design. The lid is angled at 45° to prevent hens from standing on it. The bottom is angled at 15° to encourage the last of the feed to slide to the front. The front panel is two separate pieces arranged to increase the capacity. The sides are 2×6 material, and everything else is made from scrap 1/2″ panel material (either plywood painted on one side or OSB with the sealed surface facing the feed).
Everything was assembled with screws. Since the box is 27.5″ wide, I added a small block at the middle of the tray to hold the three bottom panels tightly together. (In the event that we switch back to serving mash feed.) As I was working on this feeder, I came upon a rather interesting idea. Instead of screwing it to the coop wall, I would attach an angled rail to the back which could hang from a matching angled rail installed in the coop. A small spacer block at the bottom of the feeder would keep things plumb against the wall. We could then build several feeders of varying widths, and mix and match them to the feed. Lots of free range food? Add a narrow 8″ feeder with free-choice oyster shell to boost their calcium intake. Home grown corn or grain? Install two 16″ hoppers, one with a commercial mix (so the chickens can balance their dietary intake) and one with the grain. Any future feeders I build to this design will use a single angled front panel to simplify construction.
We invaded the chicken coop at 11pm to take some measurements and return with a rail to be screwed into the wall. (Robin didn’t want to wait another day after it was finished.) With the feeder hung, we poured in a full 50 lb bag of feed and there was still room for another 30 lbs or so. So, not only will this new feeder reduce the frequency of refills by at least 7x, but refills are now simply a matter of cutting open a bag of feed and dumping the whole thing into the feeder. Much simpler!