Here in peri urban Hobart we have to stay on top of managing rodents and birds getting into our chicken’s feed. Over the years we’ve tried lots of different designs and none of them have worked as well as we needed.
Enter this beauty. While trawling the world wide web I stumbled across this design on youtube for an automatic feeder. People – it actually really works and does everything it promises to do. It’s bird proof, weather proof and rodent proof – basically all our chicken feeding dreams coming true at once.
The basic premise is that the bucket is full of grain. A hole has been drilled into the bottom and a “ toggle” (aka an eye bolt with a chunk of wood attached) is installed which the chooks peck to access the grain – only a few grains at a time. This means they peck once, then quickly eat all the grain off the ground before doing another peck to get more grain – ensuring no excess grain is left out on the ground for rodents and birds.
One chook pecking the toggle which releases a small amount of grain. The other chooks have their heads down, eating off the ground.
This is an automatic feeder which means you don’t have to tend them everyday (as long as they have access to fresh water). This means you can go away for the weekend or just improve efficiency in your garden tasks.
Oh, and it’s dead easy to make – here’s how…
- One bucket with a handle and lid. I recommend either a 20 litre or 10 litre bucket so it can hold a decent amount of grain.
- One eye bolt – we’ve used a 5mm one.
- A chunk of wood.
- Using a 16mm drill bit – drill a hole into the bottom of the bucket. This size of the hole will vary depending on what type of grain you have. We have mixed grain with chunky sunflowers included – so our holes quite generous. If you’re not sure, start with a small hole and gradually make it bigger until you hit the sweet spot.
- Drill a 5mm holes into the chunk of wood.
- Poke the eye bolt through, with the eye on the inside of the bucket.
- Screw the eye bolt into the chunk of wood – which I call “the toggle”.
Our mixed grain has different sizes in there so we’ve made our hole quite big to make sure they can all get through.
Edit: We’ve since switched to feeding them chicken pellets (crushed up grain) as the chooks eventually worked out how to “mine” the grain mix to only eat their favourite bits and leave the rest on the ground for the birds. The pellets have been working for us really well as they’re all the same size and look.
The 16mm holes in the bottom of the bucket
The toggle (chunk of wood) with a 5mm hole drilled into it and the 6mm eye bolt.
Poke the eye bolt through the hole with the eye on the inside of the bucket.
Screw the toggle onto the other end of the eye bolt so it hangs as seen above.
That’s it! Only three bits of materials to make the chook feeder of your dreams.
That’s it. Told you it was easy. Next up you can hang it in your chook run. Make sure you hang it from a chain or a steel rod so rodents can’t crawl along it to access the bucket.
Special thanks to Anton for making me a gorgeous spiral rod using the campfire as his forge.
The other hot tip is to make sure it’s not too close to the ground that rodents could jump up to hit the toggle to release the grain.
And don’t worry about the chooks working it out. They’re very clever when it comes to food, and will have orientated themselves to it within one day.
This has been a game changer for us. The flocks of sparrows (small birds) are no more and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic the rodents that live in our neighbouring bushland wont find this one.
The feeding station, nestled between our worm farm (on the right- an old bath in a timber frame) and the branch prunings from our goats which will be turned into woodchips or biochar.