"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Chicken feeder

I think I now know why our first rooster was so 'ornery'.  Our second rooster has been trying to 'attack' RMan - who defends himself with a well aimed kick with a sturdy boot, which has never made contact, but certainly shoo's the bird away.
I tried to wait until the last moment in the day
to feed the wild birds, but even then the chickens
were coming back to see what they could scrounge
before they hit the coop for the night.
The blooming chickens seem to be perpetually ravenous - even to the point of chasing the wild birds away so that they can eat the food which I throw for them every evening.

Perhaps the rooster and chickens aren't getting enough and they are hungry, I thought?  It doesn't seem logical, because they are 100% unrestrictedly free-ranging as well as being given a small amount of breakfast (a mixture of corn pieces, pearl barley, sunflower seeds, red lentils and laying pellets) when they are released from the coop in the morning, and a slightly larger amount for dinner before they are safely ensconced in their coop for the night.

So I decided to research chicken feeders that I could leave in the coop for them to help themselves to whenever they felt like it, but that wouldn't also feed / encourage the field mice.

I have seen various chicken feeders floating around blogosphere.  And all, except the 'stand on and open lid" one, seemed to be vulnerable to feeding the local rodent population.

And then I saw one that seriously appealed to me.

So, with RMan's help we set about sorting it up.

It entails a thoroughly cleaned, recycled 25lt bucket (left over from when we painted the house) and two drain pipe corners.
I tend to fill up the bucket so that the tops of the
drainpipe corners are covered.  That amount of food
 lasts the chickens for a week - in addition to their
 free ranging all day long.
After cutting a suitably sized hole in the paint bucket, the drain pipe corners were placed facing down in the new openings, leaving a 2.5 - 3.0 cm space between the base of the paint bucket and the lowest point of the drain pipe corner, and they were then siliconed into place.  That 2 - 3 cm gap will allow the food to continuously fall within reach of the internal drain pipe corner opening / chickens hungry mouths.
As I filled the feeder bucket for the first time,
 and before I had chance to place it in their
 coop, they all crowded round.  Munching took
place in the normal pecking order.
The bucket was then suspended from the roof and placed on two bricks to give it "pecking stability" - I didn't want any overly eager chickens knocking another one out with a swinging bucket lol.  Within 15 minutes of placing the new 24 / 7 feeder in place, the chickens were already inspecting it / filling their stomachs.
The one chick couldn't wait to get it's
head into the feed bucket.  Shoving
their heads relatively deep inside the bucket

 doesn't seem to bother them at all.
The bricks / height also ensure that the
 field mice can't access the bucket nor
 it's contents.
The beauty if this system is that the chicken heads are so far inside the bucket that they don't make any mess whatsoever.  So, there is no attracting rodents to munch on the mess and take up residence in the chicken coop :)
The bricks are under the bucket for stability
 and do not provide easy access for rodents to
 get to the food - too high for them to jump
 without having a non-slippery surface to
 land on.  Plus, they cannot access the food
 from the top either - again, too slippery :)
Serendipitously, the rooster has lost his aggression...! :)

How much additional food are they consuming?  Over a week it is roughly twice the amount that I used to feed them in a single day - i.e. 8 days worth of food over 7 days.  So, no great increase in feed costs, and, by way of thank you, all five of the chickens are now laying :D

20 comments:

kymber said...

Dani - you should take that pic of the headless chicken with it's head in the bucket as your new header pic - bahahahahah! it is such a funny pic! but i am really glad that this new system works for you!

one question tho....if one chicken is having a field day in there and not letting anyone else in....do they fight over it or anything?

sending much love and loving your's and RMan's ingenuity! your friend,
kymber

Sue said...

Dani, I'm so glad you solved the mystery! You always seem to find a great solution.
Have a great week

Mum said...

Peace all round then.
xx

Linda said...

Cool idea. But, mice can climb up there.

Dawn McHugh said...

We have a ab lib feeder in the hen house wild birds do go in and help themselves but not have evidence of mice, the chickens will eat mice as well as frogs if they find them, I keep looking at the drainpipe feeders perhaps when we move them to new housing.

possumqueensa said...

What a win - solving a number of problems and recycling at the same time.

Dani said...

kymber - Lol - t'is a funny pic, isn't it :)

Nope - no fighting - thte pecking order rules...! :D

Dani said...

Sue - I don;t like anything thwarting me and will, wherever possible, always try and find a solution.

Enjoy your week too :)

Dani said...

Mum - Yup :D

Dani said...

Linda - Thanks. Thankfully, I haven't seen any signs of mice - I guess time will tell if it works or not...

Dani said...

Dawn - This lot of chickens is bloody picky - snails and slugs, hand fed to them, they turn their noses up at!! Hopefully, if they ever spy a chicken they'll give it a go...?!

Dani said...

pqsa - Yeah, love it when something works the way it's intended :)

Quinn said...

I'm glad it's working for you, Dani. The mice here would consider that a self-serve cafeteria!

Dani said...

Quinn - Oh, no!! Why, and how would they access? The opening is roughly 25cms (10") from floor level with no "perch" for the mice to land on. Can they judge distance that well that they could jump from floor level into a 10cm (4") hole successfully?

Leigh said...

Great post Dani. Good problem solving on your part. Our chickens have self-serve, but they really prefer to hunt for their own food and only eat from the feeder when they're especially hungry. They especially love having the compost bins in the chicken yard! They come running any time they see either Dan or I approach with the compost bucket.

Dani said...

Leigh - Our guy and girls also tend to wander in and out all day whenever they feel like it, in between feasting in the garden. Strangely enough they don't go near my compost heap, but they do love the alpaca poo mountain...

Quinn said...

"My" mice would! Perhaps I just have more athletic mice? They are certainly determined and creative...the smelly drier sheets that are supposed to keep them out of my glovebox? They use for duvets. The steel wool that is supposed to keep them out of tiny crevices? Mouse dental floss.

Dani said...

Mouse dental floss - bwahaha

Quinn said...

By the way, I would expect them to get into the feeder but then not be able to get out. I had a mouse get into a 5-gallon bucket that had a lid slightly ajar and a scattering of oats in the bottom. The mouse ate the oats and then died - possibly because the oats made it too heavy to leap out? I'll never know. But it was a shock opening that bucket!

Dani said...

I bet, Quinn!!

I can find no sign of empty sunflower seed shells, nor mouse poo, in the feed bucket. And, because the chickens have to put their heads so far inside it to get to the food, they don't mess it on the floor around the feeder.

If I happened upon a fat mouse inside the bucket, I would freak - and RMan would come running lol