We’ve had our small flock for a little over a year. Over time, we’ve slowly been improving our chicken management system – installing a door with a timer, putting the feeder and waterer on a pulley system for easy refilling and working on the best bedding system for our gals. One issue that has bugged us for a while is how to feed the girls scraps, such as watermelon and oatmeal, without it getting dragged around in the sand and pine shavings that make up their run floor.
We’ve tried using a dog bowl, nailed to the ground. And then later elevated it to try and keep them from scratching the goodies onto the ground. But alas, the girls are persistent. They don’t seem to mind it, but I don’t like the idea of them dragging their food through their own poo.
A few weeks ago when Todd and I participated in the Seattle Tilth Urban Farm and Coop Tour we got inspired but one of the hosts. She was using gutters to grow strawberries and lettuce. It reminded me of a chicken trough I had seen online one time. I don’t remember where – perhaps the Chicken Chick or another similar blog. But I told my husband of it and he thought it sounded like a great idea. So to work he went.
We are still playing around a bit with the placement, but we think we’ve got a great solution. We placed our feeder on the outside of the run – this works since we are using a dog kennel gate and the space between the wires are big enough for the chickens to put their head through. But you could put the trough on the inside. The benefit of putting the feeder on the outside though is a) easy trough filling (especially for my 92 year old mother in law) and b) cleaning. One of the “extra’s” todd added is a down spout so you can hose the trough out to clean it.
So if you like the idea, here’s how Todd made it…
What you’ll need:
- 1 section of gutter – about 2-4′ long – depending on how many chickens and how much space you have.
- 1 gutter brace (or more if your trough is longer)
- 2 gutter caps
- 1 downspout
- 1 piece of 1 x 4 cedar, cut to the same length as the trough
- 2 – 4 small L brackets (depending on length of trough)
- Optional: rivets
- Hole saw, large enough to cut hole for downspout to fit (ours was 2″)
- Saws-all with metal cutting blade to cut gutter to length
- Table saw, circle saw or other saw to cut cedar board to length
- Drill gun, 1-1/4 size screws and washers to attach gutter to cedar board
- Caulking gun and outdoor-grade silicone caulk (optional)
- Rivet gun and rivets (optional)
- Determine the length of the gutter you need, use your table saw or other saw to cut the gutter down to size
- Use the how saw to cut a hole for the drain spot on one end of the trough
- Measure and cut the cedar board to the same length
- Put the gutter caps on each end of the gutter length
- Optional – use rivets and a rivet gun to strengthen the corners of the gutter
- Pre-drill holes into the gutter barely large enough for the screws to fit through
- Attach the back side of the gutter to the cedar board, using the 1-1/4″ screws and washers
- Attach the gutter brace in the center of the gutter (or more, if the trough is longer and needs additional support)
- Using one short screw per bracket, attach the L-brackets to the cedar board, so that it creates a hook to hang on wire of the run (make sure the bracket forms a snug fit with the wire, but is loose enough so you can remove it for cleaning
- Push in the drain spout into the pre drilled hole
- Optional: for longevity, use a caulking gun to apply a bead of silicone around the drain spout and edges
- Hang your new feeder and give the girls a treat!
And here’s the girls first time using their new feeder – they took to it like ducks to water!
If you have any questions about how-to, please feel free to ask!