Introduction: Chicken Feeding Station
I would love to claim that this is a rodent-proof, zero-waste chicken-feeding solution, but such a thing is like a unicorn among chicken-keepers. Let's instead call this a rodent-discouraging, waste-minimizing chicken-feeding station. I knocked this together one evening after spending a rainy weekend staring out my window at a long line of rats going back and forth from their residence in the woods behind my house to my chicken run, which had become an all-you-can-eat rodent buffet. Just say no to traditional hanging feeders, folks.
For the feeder:
1 length of 2" PVC pipe (how long depends on how many chickens you have--I only have three so a 1' length of pipe holds plenty of food for them for a couple of days)
1 2" 45-degree single- or double-wye PVC connector
1 2" PVC socket caps
3 2" PVC cleanout plugs
2 2-3" worm drive clamps
For the platform:
A couple of 1'x2' (or thereabouts) pieces of plywood or other sheet good
4 2' lengths of 2x4 (pressure treated if this is going outside)
Enough 1x2 to create a rim around your platform
3 galvanized steel angle brackets
Wood screws and nails
1 hand-broom and dust-pan
1 putty knife
Step 1: The Feeder
This is a simple PVC feeder like you see all over the internet.
Take your wye connector and and cap the bottom end with a cleanout plug (add some silicone sealant around the inside) and let that dry. Or use duct tape if you're impatient like me.
Connect the wye to the pipe. Drill one small hole near the rim of each arm of the wye and another hole in each of the remaining cleanout plugs to connect them with string. This will allow you to cap the food at night (and you won't lose the caps because they're connected).
Fill the pipe with food and use the socket cap for the top. Connect the whole thing wherever you like with the worm drive clamps, but in the next step we're going to construct a feeding platform about 2 feet off the ground.
Step 2: The Platform
The next phase in my War Against Rodents was to raise the chicken's food well off the ground and supply a place for the mess they make to be easily cleaned up by a human rather than a rat.
Cut down some kind of outdoor-friendly sheet good into approximately 2 1'x2' pieces (you might want it to be bigger if you have more chickens to feed).
On one of the two pieces, create a rim all the way around using pieces of 1x2 cut down to fit. IMPORTANT: leave a small 2-3 inch gap on one side (whichever side will be most accessible to humans) and cut a piece to fit this gap, but do not attach it. For the rest of the rim, attach with wood glue or screws or nails or whatever fasteners you have laying around.
Now join the two pieces of plywood at a 90 degree angle with your angle brackets and screws.
Get the 4 2-foot pieces of 2x4 and make a table. When putting this in your coop, I highly recommend either adding some cross-braces to make it more stable OR, if you have a conducive wooden chicken run as I do, just screw the whole thing to the side of the coop or run, for stability.
Now make something so that your chickens can get up there. Some can fly, some will need a ladder, or a stepping stone like a large rock, tree branch or roosting bar. I've got a ladder I put together with some scrap and the trunk of a young Rose of Sharon tree we cut down last year.
I am using a hook screwed into the bottom to hang the waterer from.
Step 3: The Upkeep
You left a gap in the rim around the bottom of your platform and have a piece that fits in there perfectly (I wrapped mine with a layer of duct-tape to make it a little extra-tacky and snug). This is so you can remove that piece and use a hand-broom to sweep any feed that has spilled through the gap and into a dustpan to either add it back into the feeder (funnel) or discard it some place that won't become an all night rat diner.
For convenience, I have hung the broom, dust-pan, funnel and a putty knife (for scraping up any poop on the platform because chickens are disgusting) in the run itself so there are no excuses to not clean up.
I sweep up the food at least once a day, and every week when I clean out the coop I scrub the platform down with some hot water and a scrub brush. Every night I cap the feeder. So far, this seems to have stopped the pest invasion. I hope I didn't just jinx it.