I’m by no means an expert and still have some learning to do in the area of feeding and giving animals water, but I’ve found that anything that makes feeding and watering the animals easier is a good thing! I still have more to learn in this area and would love to put a better watering system into the donkey pen, but for now, I’m happy to give them fresh water one or two times a day because that means I’m making sure to check in with them and give them the attention they need. I’ve had a lot of comments and questions on the chicken feeder I made and have used for over a year now. It has been very helpful. Connor and his grandpa made a pig waterer that has made keeping clean water in the pig pen a lot easier.
As soon as we got chicks I recognized a major food and water waste issue even in the brooder boxes. Once the chicks were old enough to send outside, I knew I wanted to use a feeder that would help with this issue and a waterer that wouldn’t allow the water to spill or get dirty. I searched and searched online for chicken feeders and came across someone who made their own out of a plastic storage bin. I was a little skeptical because I wasn’t sure the chickens would figure it out, but they caught on immediately.
The first feeder I made required a lot of help from my father-in-law. I didn’t have the drill attachment to cut the holes into the box. Since it was a clear, plastic storage bin it became brittle quickly after one summer worth of sun. Once it cracked and started spilling feed I made a replacement. This time my father-in-law offered to give me the drill attachment, he’s a smart guy! Now I can make feeders whenever I need one.
So the process is pretty easy:
- Get a plastic storage bin with a removable lid. Clear is nice because you can see how much feed you have left, but it gets brittle quickly from the sun.
- Using a hole saw, make holes in the sides. Be sure to check out the link to the specific measurements so that your holes are easily accessible for the chickens.
- Buy PVC elbows and attach to box with caulking/sealant that is waterproof and appropriate for outdoor projects. Allow a day of drying time.
- Fill up with feed and spend your time talking to your chickens instead of filling up feed containers! I have 8 hens and I only have to fill up the feed box every 3-4 weeks. The feed also stays dry with the box out in the rain!
My favorite chicken waterer is the Little Giant Hen Hydrator! Many stores carry them, but I love Tractor Supply, so here’s a link: https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/little-giant-hen-hydrator?cm_vc=-10005
I’ve only had one issue, a leaky nipple. I took it back to Tractor Supply and they swapped it out with a completely new waterer with no issues. At first, the chickens were a little confused by the contraption, but as soon as we activated the nipples and showed them how to make water come out they caught on! They have no issues using it. You do need to adjust the height as they grow.
When you start a project like raising pigs and know your 12-year-old is going to do all of the work, you get really motivated to make the daily routine of feed and water as simple as possible so the pigs stay alive! I searched the Internet for solutions and found many people making pig waterers out of barrels. I felt somewhat confident that we could pull the whole thing off, so I began the search for a free or cheap barrel. I found they are reasonably easy to find through FB marketplace and Craiglist. The tricky part is makings sure they are clean and haven’t been used to store any hazardous items that may put the animal’s health in jeopardy. We lucked out and found two free and clean ones!
Connor actually did a 4-H presentation on how to make a pig waterer, so here are the steps he wrote:
1.Find a barrel *food grade *plastic is best *sometimes people give away for free
2. Cut top of the barrel open
*Since the top was sealed and all we had was a hole saw, we used that to cut an opening.
3. Drill hole in the side
*Mark spot where you know your pigs can reach (around 12 inches) and drill a hole the same size as the nipple. *water nipple can be found at Tractor Supply or other feed stores
4. Attach pig nipple to barrel *place thread tape on threads of nipple *place a gasket between barrel and nut to help seal *place a nut on the outside and inside of the barrel.
5. Wash Barrel & Close *use bleach and water with multiple rinses after
After the barrel is clean you’re ready to fill it up! We use cement pavers on top to close up the opening. On really hot days we put frozen two liters into the water barrel to keep water cool. A shady spot for the barrel is best. As the pigs have grown we have added pavers for the barrel to sit on so that it is at the correct height for the pig to drink without bending its head down.
My favorite automatic feeder by far is for the sheep – fresh, green grass and weeds! But, not all of our animals are that easy! I’m glad there are people out there who have given us some great ideas and directions on how to make our own feed and water devices, I hope this helps someone out as well!