The simple solution is to just buy hanging feeders, pour in your feed, hang in your coop and poof quandry solved. However, when I started this adventure cost was a bit of a deal breaker. We had upwards to 50 chickens...didn't have a lot of extra spending money and hanging feeders cost around $20 piece. Might not seem like a lot...but if I could make my own feeders for say...$5 each...I could accomplish my goal for a quarter of the cost.
My suspicions about how waste gets scraped onto the floor is to do with the depth of the tray shown here on the bottom of the bucket...that...or the distance between the edge of the bucket and the edge of the wood tray. Whatever the reason...I've scooped up no less that 30 pounds of feed off the floor over the months that I've used this feeder. Definitely a debby-downer...and yes...defeats the purpose of saving money.
The mice issue comes from the size of the holes in the bottom of the bucket. If you look closely you can see the golf-ball sized holes that allows the feed inside the bucket to gravity-pour out in the tray as food is consumed. When the bucket is empty...the holes are wide open...therefore mice just jump right in and walk around in the bottom of your bucket contaminating your feed with mice droppings everywhere....which I believe is a real health-hazard for your chickens.
Both of these feeders I found the design discussed on Youtube with much praise...no one talked about or updated the info found there about the pitfalls of these feeders. Figures...functional reality is not always authentically represented.
So after struggling with the shortcomings of my homemade feeders...I finally decided...enough is enough.
Let's review the issues:
- I need a feeder style that I can fill and will hold my chickens over for a minimum of two days without going empty.
- It also needs to be mice deterrent. No mice able to access the feeder, therefore no mice droppings in my feed. (If your feeder sits on the ground...easy peazy mice access. If your feeder hangs...mice can still jump up into it...hence the quandry with mice).
- The chickens have to understand...this is for them. Easy for them to access feed...no learning curve. Chickens are by their very nature curious beings...so new things usually aren't a problem. They figure most new things out within a few minutes.
- It also must be able to be protected from above...my chickens perch very high up in the barn...so things below are at risk of getting poop bombed.
No mouse droppings. YEAH! These feeders hold 30 pounds of feed so lasts two days easy before needing to be refilled. The feed sack topper I put on here seems to do the trick for keeping the chickens from bombing the feeder from above at night...and still allows easy access to refill it when needed.
In conclusion...while sometimes you can get by with creative more affordable solutions to farming dilemmas...sometimes the tried-and-true designs just work better.
Onward to happier and healthier chickens!