Automating Your Poultry Coop (De Rerum Automatica)

Kibi78704's (Kirsten's) Preface:

Treadle Feeders:  Last year, when I started raising chickens, I saw this article on how to build a treadle chicken feeder, like the one advertised at  http://www.grandpasfeeders.com/ (and also at http://www.grit.com/animals/new-chicken-feeder-saves-feed.aspx). You may have to be a member of Backyard Chickens to see it, but membership is free, and I've found it to be an excellent source of all things poultry. I didn't build it, so if you do, let us know how well it works!

Here are some other takes on automatic feeders:

Automatic Waterers: I found a link for Little Giant Automatic Poultry Fount on Amazon. I may have to get one of these!

Here are some other types:

Automatic Chicken Door - Caveat Emptor:  I have an automatic chicken door (Ok, I've actually got 3 of them.) It's great, especially when the coop is near the house and predators are more cautious about approaching. However, I lost an entire flock of 20 Silver Grey Dorkings, when the *timer* (not the door) failed, opening the door all night after I'd seen it shut at sunset. Then later, thinking it was a programming error on my part, I lost 6 more Ameraucanas after I moved the flock to a larger coop further away from the house. Again, the timer failed to close on schedule after working perfectly for some time. I no longer use the automatic doors. I'm just saying these are site specific, and to be used with caution... 

Automatic Mist Coolers - Another Caveat: The mister idea does sound great, but before installing it, I would research Coccidiosis, which is a protozoa that may exist in chicken poop, and may be activated/transmitted by adding water to poop. If the mister doesn't make everything damp, i.e., if the nozzles are sufficiently elevated, I'd say, go for it!

Storing Feed in the Coop: Rats can chew through plastic, cardboard, and probably wood. Raccoons are very clever at solving puzzles, but they haven't yet solved this one:

I have had wonderful success for over 18 months with using metal trash cans for storing bags of feed. I can store two 50-pound bags per metal trash can. My granddad taught me to always use a bungee cord looped through the side handles on the can, and up under the handle on the lid. The (long black) bungee cords I use are long enough to pass all the way across the lid, from handle to handle, and then up again to clip onto the lid handle. (That's 1.5 times across the lid.)

There is one caveat I learned the very hard way about storing feed outside; I now have an epileptic chick who taught me this terrible lesson. If your feed gets too hot, the lipids (fats) can go rancid. When this happens, your chicks are at risk for problems in their brain development because they cannot metabolize the Vitamin E (and possibly selenium) in the feed that they need. You can combat this by putting electrolytes and vitamins in their water, most especially Vitamin E, and by storing your feed in a cool location.

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-------- Original Message --------

Subject:

[austexpoultry] Re: Rats/feed & algae in the water

Date:

Fri, 26 Jul 2013 07:37:51 -0700 (PDT)

From:

David Charles Brearley 

We got away with food in the coop for about a year before rats moved in. After I removed the feed from the coop, we had no more rats. However, once I started feeding the hens outside the coop on more of an on-demand basis, then we started having problems with other birds eating large amounts of the layer ration.

For the last year or so, we've been using one of the Chook Feeders from Grandpa's feeders: http://www.grandpasfeeders.com/

Our feed now lasts at least two times as long as it did previously. I wish I had just ponied up for one of these feeders in year 1 as it would have saved us a lot of money. Besides cutting down on feed losses from other birds, the feeder can be left outside in the rain without the feed getting wet. It is rat proof.

FWIW: My four favorite things about our current chicken setup are:

1. Pullet Shut Automatic Chicken Coop door on the coop

2. Little Giant Automatic Poultry Fount in the run

3. Chook feeder in the run

4. Mister on a timer to cool the run down in the middle of the day

 

We can go away for up to a week and all we need is for someone to collect eggs, whenever it is convenient for them. When we go out of town, I do put the extra gravity feeder in the coop, as a supplement to the chook feeder. And we have supplemental poultry waterers in both the run and coop to back up the automatic fount. It's a pretty fool-proof setup. Daily activities are minimal. We take the hens treats and collect eggs. That's it.

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