|Buckeye hens- notice the rose comb?|
When we decided to transition over to a sustainable flock of Buckeye chickens we looked at our current poultry system and found it lacking. Rare breed birds are farely costly and well.... rare. We love the concept of free range chickens, but there is a large population of hawks on our farm. The hawks think that mobile chicken pens are like kitchen cabinets or the refrigerator in your kitchen - it's where you store your food until you're ready to eat it. So this year when we ordered Buckeye chicks and hatching eggs, we made the decision to renovate our first hog shed into a chicken coop. So we gutted the hog shed. Cleaned it all out. The building has three separate sections. One we finished for my mom's Auracauna chickens - Green legs the rooster and his party colored harem girls. The other side is for the Buckeyes. The third section is yet unfinished. I'm planning to close in 2 sides and add chicken wire to the third this spring for the chicks we hope to hatch in our incubator.
We did all these improvements to the building so we decided we would put what we know about feeders and waterers together to automate the chicken chores as much as possible. We invested in 2 oil catch pans - the plastic one you use to catch the nasty old oil out of your truck when you change the oil and 6 bolts with washers and nuts. We already had a couple of lidded plastic buckets. Brian's little zip roater made fast work of cutting out holes along the bottom edge of the bucket sides for the feed to flow out. Then a few holes drilled in the bottom for the bolts, slap on the pans, tighten down the nuts and VOILA! A chicken feeder that will hold enough feed for about 4 or five days for full grown birds... much longer for chicks. So after successfully engineering feeders we turned our efforts to self-waterers. All the waterers commercially available were expensive and too small to really reduce workload much. So once again we took our experience with cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs and various watering setups and put it all together.
|Closeup of the spigots on the holding barrel.|
|Hens coming up to the drinking fountain.|