Accessories for the Modern Chicken
So, with much of the structure of the chicken house built, I'm starting to work on making them some accessories, like a nest box (which they will need Real Soon Now) and a more automated feeder. (I also have an automated waterer, but it leaks like mad and I need to buy some replacement pieces for it.) Because chicken people love to share designs for their chicken devices, I figured I'd show some sketchbook scans of what I've worked out so far.
The idea for the feeder is that it sticks through the wall of the chicken room, so we refill it from the shed side. This will allow us to refill it without getting all poopy, and also it keeps the feeder from taking up floor space in the chicken room. And since chickens are really really messy eaters, this is designed so they can just get their heads in.
I'll be making a couple of these: one for feed, and one divided up into bins for oyster shells and grit. The feed bin is going to be large enough to take a 50-lb sack of feed, while the grit and shell bins will be a bit smaller, I suppose, because they just don't consume as much of those as they do feed.
I spent some time working out the measurements so that the volume worked out right and also the bin was arranged to slide the food down but not out. And of course so that there was enough room to pour a sack of food into the bin, which is going to be my main way of interacting with the feeder.
The nest box is a bit more critical (chickens are creatures of habit, so I want them to be in the habit of laying eggs in the nest box rather than around the yard).
From my reading on nest boxes, I knew I wanted one that opened from the back, and ideally I wanted a roll-out nest box so that the eggs will tend not to sit there and get stomped on and pooped on and so forth. The back opening is so we can gather eggs without going in the chicken room, see earlier note about poop.
After doing a bit of reading and so forth to see how people used roll-out nest boxes, I found that apparently sometimes eggs with fragile shells make a real mess of roll-out bins, so I decided to compromise and build one with a tilt to it that is padded with bedding. I can convert it to more fully roll-out later if that seems to be working.
The dimensions are kind of loose on nest boxes, from what I can see. People use everything from milk crates and five-gallon pails to special commercial units. Chickens seem to like nesting together, so I gave them some extra room. Also, they will be all full of egg and needing some help to get in there, so I will be using some small shelf brackets to make them a step.
I'm not sure of the measurements for the tilt and so on, but this is where I'm going to start with my cutting up of stuff.
For both these things, I'm going to be using the plywood wall of the chicken room as the front of the box. That'll make a more seamless face in the chicken room, which is good considering the antics those chickens get up to.
Last night we borrowed a truck and got some more siding (lordy, I am tired of hefting that siding around) and drywall, so we have a fun-packed weekend ahead of us, I am sure.
posted by ayse on 07/23/08