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are a pain in the ass!
A lot of the problems that come with backyard chickens are caused by the way you feed your chickens and the equipment you use.
Scratch and Mess!
Chickens love to scratch at their food and make a mess, which leaves wasted grain scattered around the coop.
Rats and mice
Grain on the ground or in open feeders is a magnet for wild birds, rats and mice – and snakes love to eat rats and mice!
Any rain usually means soggy feed that quickly goes rancid - and smells foul!
All these problems are a real pain in the #%[email protected] and will cost you a lot of time and energy!
Happy, healthy backyard chickens made easy!
This chicken feeder solves these problems at the source and makes it really easy to keep happy, healthy backyard chickens.
No mess or waste
The enclosed design and 'spill guard' stop chickens from scratching and pecking out grain from the feeder. The feeder also has a rain hood which keeps the feed dry and stops a lot of waste.
Pests carry disease and put stress on your chickens. The mess free design and ability to seal the feeder closed at night keeps rats and mice out.
With no mess, no pests and a rain proof design, this feeder almost looks after itself.
From Stressed out to Stress Free
Hooray for fresh eggs every day
I first got started with chickens using a second hand coop that came with a standard feeder. It wasn't long before I was getting a steady supply of eggs and things seemed to be going along great.
Things got messy
But I didn't realise there was trouble brewing beneath the surface. I knew there was something wrong when my chickens started roosting on top of the chicken coop rather than in it. I found a family (more like a plague!) of rats living in the coop. Looking back at the situation, I'm not surprised there was a rat problem. The coop was a mess - there was chicken feed flung everywhere around the coop and dirt in the feeder from the chickens scratching around. With a steady food supply, the rats had decided to move in and were multiplying like crazy. No wonder I was going through so much chicken feed!
To make things worse, every time it rained I would waste all the grain in the feeder. I tried drying out the grain, but when it started smelling rancid - I realised I was wasting my time.
I was determined to get rid of the rats for good!
To try and fix the problem, I set rat traps and started storing the feed away at night. This helped things for a while but didn’t solve the problem. Once I stopped using the rat traps they started to come back. Dealing with dead rats and cleaning up spilt grain from the coop each night had become a real pain. It now made sense to me why there were so many second hand chicken coops for sale - it was just to much hassle. I had almost given up when I decided to look for solutions online. I found a whole bunch of DIY feeder designs which looked like they would fix some of my problems.
Trial and error
After a bit of research I made a PVC feeder based on a design which looked promising - but it turned out to be far from perfect. There was still wasted grain on the coop floor and it didn't keep the rain out. Every time it rained the grain got soggy which then clogged up the feeder. I had also read that rats couldn't climb into the feeder - but these rats must have been acrobats cause they seemed to have no problems. I am pretty sure they were having a party in there.
I also found it soooooo frustrating trying to figure out how to make the different feeders based on a photo and some very rough detail. It took a lot of time to figure out exactly how to make them and what tools and materials I needed. And I always missed something which meant another trip to the hardware store. Even basic stuff like cutting the pipe in a straight line took a lot of trial and error.
I didn't get the solution I was looking for but I was determined to improve on the design and to make it easier for others to build and use. After months spent testing and tweaking different designs, I came up with a feeder that solves all these major problems.
Is this feeder suitable for you?
Simple step by step instructions that anyone can follow
This feeder is designed to be really easy to make, using basic tools that most people have at home and materials that are cheap and easy to find at your local hardware store. You don't need any special skills, experience or expensive tools. Follow the step by step instructions and you'll have the ultimate hassle free chicken feeder in no time at all.
Specifically designed for backyard chickens
This feeder is designed for specifically for backyard chickens. Only one chicken can access the feeder at a time, which means that its best suited for up to 4 chickens. However, multiple feeders work well together for larger flocks.
PVC is cheap, which makes this feeder very cheap to make.
6 Easy Steps
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
This guide is set out in 6 steps which are designed to be flexible:
- Some steps are marked as optional, if you want the quickest and easiest solution.
- There are some different options depending on the materials you can get a hold of and any specific requirements or preferences you have.
Cut PVC to size and shape
Sand & clean PVC
3. Paint (Optional)
Spray paint 2-3 coats
Assemble feeder and bolt in the base
Install the feeder for use and fix into place
6. Use & Maintain
Introduce the feeder, ongoing use and maintenance
The materials list has some alternatives for items which are not available in some countries. There are also some options based on your requirements / preferences.
Item A 1 x 1m (3' 3") 90mm (3") Pipe
Item B 1 x 90mm (3") Junction
(Step 1.2 - option 1)
Item C.1 2 x 90mm (3") Cap / Plug
(Step 1.2 - option 2)
Item C.2 2 x DIY Cap / Plug
**Materials list below
Item D 1 x 90mm (3") Elbow 45 degree
(Step 1.3 - option 1)
Item E.1 1 x 90mm (3") Rectangular adapter
(Step 1.3- option 2)
Item E.2 DIY Hood
**Materials list below
Item F 2 x 90mm (3") Cap
(Step 4.3 - optional)
Item G 1 x galvanised bolt 6mm (12g) x 100m (4") and wing nut
(Step 5.2 - option 1)
Item H.1 1 x Conduit saddle & picture wall hook
(Step 5.2 - option 2)
Item H.2 1 x 50cm (20") Shock cord (or any rope / cord you have)
**Item C.2 - DIY Cap / Plug
If a Cap / Plug is not available (Item C.1), the materials below can be used to make Item C.2 as an alternative.
Item C.2.1 4 x 90mm (3") Cap
Item C.2.2 100mm (4") x 90mm (3") Pipe
Item C.2.3 PVC Cement
**Item E.2 - DIY Hood (Step 1.3 - Option 2)
If a Rectangular adapter is not available (Item E.1), the materials below can be used to make Item E.2 as an alternative.
Item E.2.1 1 x 90mm (3") Elbow 22.5 degree
Item E.2.2 90mm (3") Cap
Item E.2.3 2 x 6mm (15/64) x 20mm (0.8") Nut and Bolt
E3: Tape measure
E5: Respirator mask (dust and paint)
E6: Spray paint
(Step 3 - optional)
(Step 1.3.2, 4.3 & 5.2 - optional)
E8: Drill bit 6mm (15/64)
(Step 1.3.2, 4.3 & 5.2 - optional)
(Step 5.2 - optional)
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Cutting, drilling and sanding PVC
- Use a respirator mask while cutting and drilling PVC so you don't breath in the dust.
- When using PVC Cement, make sure you have plenty of ventilation and use an organic vapour respirator. The vapours from PVC cement are toxic and will make you dizzy if inhaled.
- Wear gloves so you don't get any on your skin.
- Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area
- Use a respirator so you don't breathe in any vapours
- Keep spray paint on your project, not on you
- Wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.
1.1 Cut pipe to size
From your 1m piece of 90mm PVC pipe, cut it into the lengths below. It can be difficult to get a straight clean cut when using a hand saw - there is a trick to this which I will explain below.
Item A.1 650mm (2') - adjust as needed
Item A.2 150mm (6")
Item A.3 55mm (2")
Item A.4 100mm (4") - see tip below
Draw a cutting line on the pipe
For each length of pipe, use your tape measure to measure the required length and mark with the pencil. Repeat this step on each side of the pipe, so that you have 4 pencil marks in a straight line around the outside of the pipe.
Once you have 4 marks, wrap the tape measure around the pipe and join the dots with your pencil until you have a straight line around the pipe. Once you have a line drawn, you are ready to start cutting the pipe.
Make a shallow cut along the pencil line all the way around the pipe, rotating the pipe as you go. Don't cut through the pipe the first time around.
Cut through the pipe
Once you have a shallow cut all the way around the pipe, you can start cutting all the way through. Rotate the pipe as you cut through it.
1.2 DIY Cap / Plug (Item C)
Glue the caps together
Put PVC Cement (Item F) onto the flat side of the 2 Caps (Item C.2). Make sure you use enough cement for a strong bond.
Push the glued sides together and do a 1/4 twist to help spread the cement.
Place something heavy on top of it (like a brick) and leave it for an hour or so to dry.
Measure the depth of the cap and double it to work out the length of the PVC pipe you need.
Cut the PVC Pipe (Item A) to the measured length.
The pipe then slots into one side to complete the Cap / Plug.
There are two options for the feeder hood:
1.3.1 Option 1: Hood using Rectangular Adapter
Uses the Rectangular Adapter and is the easiest option.
To make sure the chickens can get easy access to the feed, one side of the downpipe adapter must be cut off.
The cuts you need to make are marked with a red line in the picture. Start with shallow cuts along each edge before cutting all the way through.
1.3.2 Option 2: DIY Hood
If you cannot get a Rectangular Adapter, this is an alternative DIY version.
Elbow - Draw cutting lines
For the elbow (Item E.2.1), some measurements are needed to guide the cutting lines.
On the skinny side of the elbow, with the pipe edge facing towards you, use the bottom middle point as the starting point. From there you need to measure 65mm (2.55") on either side.
I found that the easiest way to do this is to mark the starting point on the pipe and wrap a tape measure around the pipe. Mark the measurement on each side with a pencil.
Repeat this process on the thicker "sleeve" side of the elbow and again mark the measurements with a pencil.
Based on your markings, you can then join the dots to create a cutting line (see picture).
Elbow - Cut
Then cut along the line remembering to start with a shallow cut to ensure a straight and even cut.
Cap - Draw cutting lines
The cap (Item E.2.2), is used for the bottom of the pipe opening and acts as the spill guard.
Wrap a tape measure around the edge of the cap and measure 130mm (5.10"). Mark this point on either side with a pencil.
Draw a line to join up the dots.
Cap - Cut
Use your hacksaw to then cut the cap along the drawn line.
The Cap fits on the cut out section of pipe.
Bolts are used to fix the cap in place. Mark 2 drill holes on either side of the cap.
While holding the cap in place, drill the 2 holes through the cap and the elbow on the bottom edge.
Insert the bolts and tighten.
DIY Hood Completed
You should now have the finished product - a hood for your feeder.
2.1 Sand PVC cuts
Sand each of the cut edges of the PVC pipe, to make them smooth and remove any of the plastic threads.
2.2 Sand PVC surface
Give each PVC part a light sand along the surface. This will clean the PVC and remove surface waxes to help the paint adhere (in step 3). You can also sand off the manufacturing barcodes and markings if you are looking for a clean finish.
Wash off any dust and dirt from the pipe and dry with a clean cloth. This will also help ensure spray paint will adhere properly to the PVC.
Painting the feeder is an optional step which gives some extra protection against weathering and gives your feeder a personalised look.
Get the area ready for painting by laying down cardboard or newspaper. To make sure you get it right, test your technique on scrap paper before starting:
- Shake your spray paint can for 1 minute before you use it and regularily while spraying
- Begin and finish spraying off the object
- Use an even side-to-side motion
- Spray about 20cm from the surface
Paint each PVC piece seperately, before the feeder is assembled. Try not to paint the inside of the pipe.
To stop drips and runs, spray 3 thin
coats. Wait for each coat to dry
before putting on the next coat. The wait time depends on the spray paint, so follow the instructions on the can. Wait for the paint to fully dry before you start putting the feeder together in step 4.
4.1 Assemble feeder
Put the feeder together following the diagram. Make sure joins are fully pushed in so that they are sturdy. Don't glue the pieces together. This saves time and will make it easy to pull apart for cleaning.
4.2 Assemble scoop
Put together the scoop for the feed following the
4.3 Base bolt (optional)
A base bolt stops the bottom cap from coming apart when its full and still allows you to pull it apart for cleaning. It's an optional step because it won't come apart while in place and can easily be held together with your hands if you need to move it when it's full. On the other hand it's easy to forget and spill feed everywhere.
While the plug / cap (Item C) is attached to the the junction (Item B), drill a hole through both sides using the Drill and 6mm drill bit.
Insert base bolt
Insert the bolt in one side and push through to the other side.
Put the wing nut on and tighten.
5.1 Where to put your feeder
If you put the feeder in the right spot you will have a lot less hassles. Here are a few things to consider:
The feeder is designed to keep annoying pests away, but putting your feeder in a secure spot will provide extra protection. This might be inside your coop or chicken run.
The feeder protects against the rain and moisture, but in a big storm the feed can sometimes still get a little wet. Because of this, an undercover or partially covered position is ideal (but not necessary).
The feeder will need to be topped up regularly and capped shut each night. Think
about how easy it will be to top up and get access to it. Ideally you should be able to top up the feeder without moving it.
5.2 Fixing the feeder in place
When installing the feeder, you will need to fix it in place to keep it upright. To do this there are 2 options.
Option 1: Hook and Conduit Saddle
This option uses a conduit saddle and picture
hook which is ideal against a solid surface. The hook can also be used by itself to clip directly
onto solid wire mesh.
Step 1: Mark where you want the hook
The first step is to work out where you want to put the hook. Aim for about the mid point of the feeder and mark it on the pipe with a pencil.
Step 2: Install hook
At the point marked, drill a hole for the picture hook. Install the hook onto the pipe and tighten, so that the hook is facing downwards.
Step 3: Install pipe saddle
Lean the feeder against the support surface, measure the point to install the conduit saddle and mark it with the pencil. Screw the pipe saddle onto the support surface.
Step 4: Hook it up
Once the pipe saddle is in place, you can clip the feeder on and its ready to go.
Option 2: Elastic rope
This option uses an elastic shock cord. Simply tie the shock cord around the feeder and the supporting surface.
6.1 Filling up the feeder
Once the feeder is assembled and installed, the next step is to fill it up. The feeder can be used with any type of feed including mash, crumble, pallets and mixed grain. Normally mixed grain can cause problems because the chickens will pick out what they like and make a mess in the process. But with this feeder it's not a problem because the chickens can't flick the grain around.
Filling the base
Any feed below the line (see picture) can't be reached by chickens. A solve this, fill the base of the feeder with either sand or crushed shell grit.
Using the scoop you made, top up the rest of the feeder with your feed. When using the scoop, hold it at the cap end to make sure it doesn't fall off. The scoop makes it easy to top up into the small pipe opening. It's much easier than trying to lift and pour a full bag of grain.
6.2 Introducing the feeder
Chickens are very cautious about anything new, so you'll need to gradually introduce them to the feeder.
Attract the chickens close to the feeder with food
The first step is to attract your chickens to the feeder. Throw some of their favourite food (my chickens go crazy for rolled oats) around the feeder, to help them get used to it and associate the feeder with food.
Feeding without the hood
To start with you need to make it as easy as possible for your chickens to get to the feed. Take the hood off (Item E: Rectangular Adapter) and make sure the opening is full with food which the chickens can clearly see. You can even add some treats on top to help get their attention.
Feeding with the hood on
Once your chickens are used to eating out of the feeder, you can then put the hood on. They may be cautious at first, but it won't take them long to figure it out.
6.3 Pest protection
To keep your feeder pest free, it's important to cap the feeder off at night. When I first designed the feeder, I thought there was no way rats or mice could get in - so I never bothered to put
a cap on overnight. I definitely under estimated how acrobatic and persistent rats can be when it comes to food!
When I realised rats where getting into the feed I started to cap it off at night. I was amazed to find scratch marks down the side of the cap the next morning. I had blocked off the food source and the rats were clearly not happy.
The key is to cap off the feeder from the start. Get into the routine of doing it when you lock up the coop. Its no big deal if you forget occasionally, but you if you cap off the feeder regularly from the start, the rats won't learn where the food source is and you won't have any troubles.
Capping the feeder at night
- Remove the plug / cap (Item C) and the push on cap (Item F) from the top of the feeder.
- Put the push on cap (Item F) back on top of the feeder tube to keep it sealed off.
- Remove the hood (Item E: Rectangular Adapter) and insert the plug / cap (Item C)
- Put the hood (Item E: Rectangular Adapter) on top of the plug / cap (Item C)
6.4 Cleaning and blockages
After heavy rain, the feeder will need to be checked for water and blockages. While the feeder is water resistant, small amounts of water can still find its way in during heavy rain and storms. And it doesn’t take much moisture to make the pellets swell and clog up the feeder . If there's a blockage, you will need to pull the feeder apart and clean it out.