Polypipe chook feeder (or how to outwit a chicken)

When I first decided to get some chickens (by the way, for overseas readers, we call them ‘chooks’ over here in Aussie land…..we’re a bit odd that way, you see)…..anyway….so I had to decide on how to present their food to them. After much internet searching, I found someone who’d made a feeder out of some scrap poly water pipe. I didn’t have any scrap pieces but it’s cheap enough to buy at plumbing suppliers or hardware stores, so I took myself off to Bunnings and their plumbing section.

After spending some time playing around with a short length of pipe and various fittings, I came up with the following masterpiece…a T section and two 45 degree sections, on the end of the pipe :

I started feeding the food that had been recommended by the breeder where I bought the chooks. However chooks have minds of their own and know what they don’t like. The feed was a mix of layer pellets and grains. They loved the grains and tossed out the pellets. Back to the drawing board.

Someone gave me a bag of layer pellets from a different manufacturer and they seemed to like them, so I ended up buying those and a poultry grain mix separately. I didn’t want to bother with mixing the two, so it was off to the store to buy more bits for a second feeder. So now we looked like this….grains in one feeder, pellets in the other. So far so good :

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Next problem was with the grain mix. It consisted of sunflower seeds (chook caviar), wheat (nah, won’t eat that…we’re gluten free), sorghum (what’s THAT stuff?), cracked corn (yes, we know all the books say chickens love corn, but WE don’t). So most of it got tossed everywhere in an effort to get at all the sunflower seeds (the books refer to it as ‘beaking’….when they use their beaks to flip aside anything they don’t like). Food all over the ground again. Where did I put that drawing board?

Do away with the 45 degree angle piece and replace with another right angled piece so that they can’t ‘beak’ out the food so easily. Surely this should do it? :

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Well, not quite. Because although they don’t relish some of the grains, they do eat them most times, but only after all the reachable sunflower seeds have been scoffed. As they crunch down on the grain, a certain amount is crushed into powder. The powder collects at the bottom, takes up any moisture in the air and cakes hard. Then the grains in the upper part of the pipe won’t flow down freely. The 45 degree end piece is a better shape for free-flowing, but it allows too much beaking out to occur. Drawing board?

Back in the plumbing section of Bunnings, I found they make little push-on caps for the pipes. I wanted the Girls to have access to the feed but not so they could pull it forward with their beaks and onto the ground. So I cut a ‘V’ section in the caps and put them over the ends of the pipe. Success at last! :

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Now they couldn’t pull the mixture forwards and out onto the ground. There was still a certain amount of powder produced, but all I had to do was take off the cap and flip out the powder with my finger into a container. It didn’t go to waste….the native Bronzewing pigeons loved it!

Problem solved at last? No….what is it they say about not counting your chickens before they’re hatched?

You see, these chooks are timid little wussies. A leaf falls off a tree and they will panic. If anyone but me goes near them, they will run a mile. It’s embarrassing when I have visitors…..they won’t come near. You can’t brag about your beautiful chooks if they’re skulking in the darkest corner and won’t come out and say hello.

So what happened next in the food saga wasn’t surprising. They would feed so furiously in an attempt to get at the sunflower seeds, that they would actually pull off the cap. It would fall on the ground, I’d hear a flurry of panicky cackles and the four of them would head for the hills. Not only that, but as long as that nasty white thing that had attacked them was still lying on the ground, they wouldn’t come back into the run, not even to go to bed, until I’d removed it.

I didn’t want to glue the cap on. That would have made the process of cleaning out the powder more difficult and I’m a firm believer in not glueing anything unless it’s absolutely necessary, because you never know when you might want to take it apart again. Don’t glue, screw.

I got out the drill and the finest bit I had. Drilled a tiny hole through each side of the cap and into the pipe :

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Placed a tiny nail through each hole to hold the cap in place. Voila! (The little bit of elastoplast is there because the hole was still a bit big for the nail) :

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Finally, the problem was solved (I hope) :

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And to use up the extra bits I’d bought, I made polypipe containers for their water and shell grit :

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Don’t get me wrong….chooks are wonderful things to have. They provide fresh eggs, fertiliser for the veggies and lots of laughs. It’s just that I seem to have ended up with a bunch of oddballs.

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15 Responses to “Polypipe chook feeder (or how to outwit a chicken)”

  1. notsomethingelse Says:

    “It’s just that I seem to have ended up with a bunch of oddballs.”
    …and that’s surprising in what way? 🙂

    Great innovation by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. narf7 Says:

    Awesome problem solving right there Bev. You are the queen of the questions ;). My chooks have all decided to become ninja’s. The duck has decided to hide in the shrubs, the roosters are overtaking the roost and the hens are all clucky or mums and I am starting to think that hens have a desire to take over the world. Imagine the noise when they think “the sky is falling!” over here! Some of the roosters get stuck on “ALERT ALERT!” for what seems hours on end and the hens hear the roosters screeching and start going off themselves. Life is certainly not the “quiet idle” that everyone tells us country living is! 😉 Excellent fixes and I am pinching all of these ideas 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks, Fran (my greatest fan!). And thanks for the reblog ,too. I wish we didn’t have a huge stretch of water between us. I would love to turn up one day and see all the things you’ve written about since we ‘met’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • narf7 Says:

        You are my inspiration Bev. Whenever I think “I can’t do that!” The next thing I see, you have done something twice as difficult and made it look easy-peasy. I am SO glad you didn’t stop blogging as your posts are informative, educational and enlightening and we need more information like this and less selfies and garbage. You are doing your bit to redress the norm. Kudos! I keep saying I will hop a plane to visit Melbourne. I will let you know if I ever get up the courage again 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. narf7 Says:

    Reblogged this on serendipityrevisited and commented:
    Bev is TOO CLEVER! This is for anyone else out there who has chooks and wants to find a way to feed them that isn’t going to result in your early baldness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Says:

    I have a similar set up for my shell grit, only I found the 90 degree elbow is adequate. But then grit drains well, so won’t clump in the elbow, like feed can. You’re sure determined to find the right solution. But it does make life easier when we find a better way of doing things.

    I wonder if the timidness of your chooks, are down to the breed’s temperament. I don’t know much about Barnevelders (never kept them) so can’t say for sure. My google research tells me though, they’re shy and placid and prone to being bullied by other breeds. So it seems to be a trait.

    Although, my other theory I wonder, is if they are being constantly stalked by a predator you haven’t seen. Either during the night, or during the day when you’re out. So the nervousness is an automatic reaction to any movement near their coop. Predators are clever, and get to know our movements. They will stalk livestock, when they know we’re not around.

    The only thing I have found helps this, is including more foliage around the coop. It makes them feel more secure.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Chris, I haven’t researched Barnevelders sufficiently enough to find that they are shy and placid, so that idea certainly fits. They’ve all (2 separate lots of 3), come from the same breeder and had the same father (not sure about the mothers) so genes are playing a part too.

      No, I don’t think there would be any predators around that would constantly scare them. I’m home most of the time, there’s only been the occasional fox through the day and at night they’re in their coop, up on the roost, so nothing could see them and they couldn’t see out. I have a good cover of plants around the small run where the coop is and I want to get more established around the bigger run where they are through the day, even if only to provide extra shade in summer and give them something to pick at through the wire. The problem is, it’s very dry sandy soil and summer watering is difficult (dragging the hose there). I do have some stuff growing in wicking boxes there, which provides a bit of greenery. They’re well used to me being around (I have treats, which makes me acceptable) but they still won’t let me really near unless there’s a wire fence between us! Picking them up has never been an option unless they’re so sick they can’t resist.

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      • Chris Says:

        I wonder how much the breeders handle their chicks as they’re growing? We handle ours all the time, so they feel comfortable around us. If they’re breeding large numbers of chicks though, its very difficult to give that one-on-one time. I’m not blaming the breeders, it just helps with domestication more, if there’s a lot of human contact during raising.

        Some breeds are just flighty though. My Welsummer x Barnevelders were that. They were sold to me as Barnevelder chicks, but as they grew, they looked more like Welsummers. I do know that particular breed, have a lot of the wild genes still present (a lot like the Araucana I’ve had experience with too) and so they are inherently flighty. Very much afraid of being eaten, in other words. 😉

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        • foodnstuff Says:

          I think that’s a big part of the problem. When I went to pick up my Girls the breeder showed me over her system. There was one shed for chickens in all stages from days old to older. One pen would have had probably a hundred tiny chicks in it. When I went close they all moved to the back wall. She asked me not to take a flash photo as it would frighten them. Everything was spotlessly clean, though. They would have had no handling at all, but she told me she sells a lot as young chicks (someone arrived while I was there to pick up an order of 20). Ideally they should have been with the mother hen from day one, but it’s a business and can’t be ‘natural’. At the time I was too scared of looking after tiny chickens (it was my first time with chooks), but I think I would have the confidence to do it now and maybe get a better result re handling.

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  5. fergie51 Says:

    I love the oddballs! When we first got chooks I lashed out and bought one of these http://dineachook.com.au similar concept and when I added up the cost it wasn’t much dearer. They are now about double the price they were then, but it is the best unit. I did make a water feeder following video from Rob at Bits Out the back, think you’d like his stuff Bev, really informative!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. fergie51 Says:

    I don’t think that link is the one I meant to post but it should take you to the right place and find it from there.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks for the link. Really classy-looking feeders, they are! I enjoyed Rob’s Bits out the Back blog and have bookmarked it. Can’t have too much of this stuff!

      Like

  7. Craig Says:

    Hmmm, Not quite understanding this one – a couple of posts on you rail about sustainability with WIndmills etc, but are now using polypipe (petrochemical product) ??

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi again Craig, seems you’re doing some reading here 😉

      Well, yes, valid point. I do try to limit my use of plastics as much as I can and yes, I did buy new polypipe rather than recycling used stuff. The feeders will last a long time, though and maybe I’ve been able to give an idea to someone who has some polypipe scraps hanging around and doesn’t know what to do with them. Better than seeing it go into landfill.

      And I wasn’t ‘railing on’ as you put it. Just trying to wake people up the the knowledge that ‘renewable’ doesn’t always mean ‘sustainable’.

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