Monday, April 13, 2015

Best5Chickens Update 4/13/15: How to Build a Chicken Feeder

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It's kinda ironic to me that the most frustrating part of setting up my chicken Mecca was the perceived easiest aspect of the whole process. Digging post holes, making a rain water collection system, assembling the chicken house? Easy. Putting together a feeder? Turned out to be a head scratcher...but for reason totally avoidable. 

Real quick: if you haven't kept up with all the other they are. Go read. 

Best5Chickens 4/6/15

Alyse had found some pretty cool feeders on Pintrest that used PVC pipe. The idea is to create a system that allows you to feed your chickens for several days without having to actually be there. A chicken feeder for the family on the go....which is totes us. She showed it to me one night before bed while I was watching Breaking Bad. A few PVC fittings and pipes. A little flashing. Some angles. Done. 

That next day, I headed to the local hardware store. 3" PVC pipe? Check. Several assorted 3" elbows and beds? Check. 

Got home. Realized that the OD on 3" is 3.5" and the ID of the bends is 3". After looking like a caveman for 10 minutes, banging pieces together that would never fit, I went on to the next project.

On my next trip to the hardware store, I took a tape measure. Overkill? Yes. I could just read the labels that say "3.5" ID Fitting." But that's too easy. And, I don't trust them. I sourced a few MORE elbows and bends and headed home to finish this seemingly easy project.

And so I did. Well, sorta.

Initially, I was going to let the 36" tall section of 3" PVC gravity feed into a long-sweeping 90 degree elbow, where the feed would trickles onto the ground. I recognized that I would have to cover the opening with flashing at some point, to keep rain from molding all of the food. But, I wanted to test it before we got that far.

So, we sat it up and poured feed down the shoot. It worked....too well. Every single piece of feed came flying out the other end of the tube at rocket speed. Cause, you know, gravity and a low friction environment. 

I tried several iterations of adding back-bends, steep angles, and other tricks...while Alyse continually reminded me that I should just look at the examples that she showed me. 

Follow some one else's directions? Never. 

But see, my wife isn't like most wives. She has no problem reminding me who utterly stupid I am. After moping in the shop for a few minutes, I asked her to pull up the Pinterest designs, of which there were two or three. 

I decided to make a hybrid of the ones I saw...because I am no conformist but I AM lazy. Also, I can't leave anything alone. I have to improve every design....even those that are perfectly fine. 

The solution? 

Here we go. 

The long section is 36" inches into a a long sweeping 90 degree elbow. Another 3" PVC section 18 inches long into a cap. 

In the 18 inch section, I used a 1"hole saw to make 3 holes equally spaced between the 90 degree bend and the cap. 

Now, it needs flashing to keep rain run off from getting into the feed. So, I took a piece of extra vinyl siding I had, measured the length of the lower section, and cut it to fit. With two small length multi-purpose screws, I secured it to the top of the pipe. Around the screw heads I ran a bead of silicone. I trimmed the vinyl siding so that I could fit the backside )away from the holes) flush against a surface. In the gap between the siding and the pipe, I ran some sealing expanding foam. 

Happy with my result, I took it into the pen to the fence post I would mount it to. After resting the bottome on 2 4x4 blocks (to get it off the ground), I secured it to the post with fencing wire. 

It was at the point that I realized that I had made the whole contraption the same over-all height of the fencing post. It looked I took some measurements. But, it would make it AWFULLY hard to get the cap off, as the cap was secured tight to the post. 

With a sigh of exasperation, I cut the wire and headed back to the shop. 

I changed the 36" overall height to 48", reinstalled everything, and secured it. Boom. It works. 

I made sure the chickens knew where their food was and watched them enjoy it. 

I also added a batting cage netting top to the fence, which should keep out the birds of prey.

So, if you were wondering about a parts list, here ya go:

  • 1 48" section of 3" PVC
  • 1 18" section of 3" PVC
  • 1 long sweep 3.5" ID 90 degree elbow
  • 1 3.5" ID cap
  • 1 1" hole saw
  • 1 18" section of vinyl siding
  • 1 small tube of silicone
  • 1 can of expanding/sealing foam
  • 1 roll of fending wire
  • 2 short multi-purpose screws
  • 1 metal fence post