Deer Feeder for Feeding Chickens
Kevin Felts 12.07.16
I took a deer feeder and rigged it up for feeding chickens hen scratch. Why? So the chickens get some hen scratch and I do not have to worry about doing it myself.
My chickens are fed “laying crumbles.” This is a chicken feed processed to maximize protein and other nutrients hens need to lay eggs. Hen scratch on the other hand is ground corn, seeds, and various grains.
Laying crumbles are around 17-20% protein, hen scratch is around 7-9% protein. One of the main purposes of hen scratch is to keep weight on chickens. Chickens can not live off hen scratch alone. It is a supplemental feed given to chickens and other poultry.
If you mix laying crumbles with hen scratch, the chickens will dig through the mix and eat the hen scratch. Like children, chickens eat the sweet desert first, then eat the main meal. To prevent the chickens from digging through the feed, I have it separate.
Given the chance, chickens will gorge themselves on hen scratch. I have seen my Barred Rocks with their crops so full they are almost dragging the ground. A crop is where the chickens grind their food so it can be digested.
High amounts of corn in the hen scratch contributes to weight gain and added fat. Because of this, some farmers only give their chickens hen scratch in the winter. The extra fat is supposed to help chickens tolerate the cold. Some farmers, such as myself, give hen scratch all year long, but in limited quantities.
Opposite winter, a fat chicken may have problems tolerating heat. Some farmers refrain from giving hen scratch in the summer. This is so the chickens will slim down and hopefully avoid heat related problems.
Feeding Chickens Made Easy
I want my chickens to get hen scratch, but in limited quantities because they have several acres on which to forage. The hen scratch is used as a treat.
- 35 gallon drum
- Leg kit from hunting supply store
- Timer and motor kit
- A rock weighing a couple of pounds
Holes were drilled in the drum and the leg kit was mounted. I put silicone between the brackets and the drum. This was to prevent water from getting into the drum via the bolt holes.
Legs are eight feet long tubing.
Cut a hole in the bottom of the barrel. Then, install the cone and motor housing to the drum with self-tapping screws.
Adjust the distance between the spinner plate and the cone to around 1/2 inch.
Stand the drum up and insert the tubing.
Fill the barrel with hen scratch, place slip-on lid on top of barrel. Put rock on top of lid. The rock is to prevent wind from blowing the lid off.
Connect battery to timer. Set time and desired times you want the feeder to go off.
My feeder goes off twice a day–once in the morning and once in the evening. Spin time is set to around eight seconds or so.
End of the Day
Feeding chickens can take time out of your day, time that can be used for other things.
In the chicken house are two feeders that hold around 25 pounds of chicken feed each.
The deer feeder can hold close to 200 pounds of hen scratch. A 6 volt battery lasts around six weeks or so, depending on how long the spin time is set for. If the feeder is filled up and the battery is fully charged, it is low maintenance for close to six weeks.
A couple of times a week I will go over to the deer feeder and push the test button. This will throw the hen scratch out and give me a chance to check the battery charge indicator. Then I can work on other projects around the farm.