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Suggestions for auto feeders/waters for a small coop? (possible converted nesting box?)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Our chicks are 8 days old :jumpy so to say I'm new to chickens in an understatement! LOL!! Many of you have larger flocks and have really cool looking coops, runs and feeding/watering systems that work great in large areas. I'm hoping you can help me downsize your awesome ideas for our smaller scale project. 

 

A coop was built for us as a surprise gift - so blessed are we!! They thought we were getting 3-4 chicks and they built it accordingly. We ended up getting 5 chicks. The coop is is approx 3'x4' with three nesting boxes off one side. Aside from hoping the coop will be big enough once they're full grown, I'm hoping to figure out a way to put an auto feeder/waterer within the size constraints of a small coop. The chicks are currently using a vertical nipple water bottle with great success - although they are making the shavings really wet - but its clean!! So I would like to have a a simple nipple style feeder in their coop. They're using the typical chick feeding set up we got at the feed store and making a horrible mess now they have the scratching instinct working! I'd like to transition them to some sort of feeder that reduces mess and doesn't have to be filled too often. Even something I can put in their brooder box?

 

I read that having three nesting boxes for five chickens will be a bit overkill, so I'm thinking of converting one of the boxes to a feeding "station." Has anyone ever done that? I was thinking of doing the 5 gallon bucket concept with PVC elbows and put a plastic container in one of the nesting boxes with two feeding holes toward the coop end. That way the feed stays dry and can be covered versus just putting it directly into the nesting box. Wondering how to make it the least messy.....?

 

I am also having to deal with the location of the roosting bars - again the coop was built for 3-4 birds and I have 5. Do I need to keep the roosting bars clean of the feeding/water areas? 

 

Here's some photos so you can see what I have to work with. I really do appreciate any and all ideas and suggestions. 

 

 

The roosting bar is removable and will have to be rethought due to it being built for 3-4 chickens and we have 5. :)

 

We have a 2nd roosting bar but not sure where we're going to put it.

You can also see the chicken door with the pull cord in the back that I have to work around.

 

The nesting boxes are to the right. We were just playing around with ideas of where to put the 2nd roosting bar and still have room for food/water.

Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

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Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

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post #2 of 8

Welcome!  :frow   You don't mention what type of chicks they are so I will assume large breed. Your coop looks very nice. As I'm sure you will find out, people who make coop are optimistic about how many birds they will accommodate!  A space 3x4 = 12 sq ft or so, the recommended space per grown bird is about 4sq. ft/bird, if they are confined. If however, you put a really big run, or better yet can safely free range, the space won't be so much of an issue, except perhaps for winter. I would leave the nesting box as is,it gives them more choice.  Once you have a run built, you can put the feed and water outside when they are feathered out at about 7 weeks or so. I leave my waterer outside the coop, it makes for a drier, cleaner coop. Food too can be left outside for them, just take it up in the evening so predators aren't attracted by it. You say they are making a mess? not sure what you mean - spilling food, shavings in the food? Haven't found a cure for that - they grow up eventually! :)  How tall is your coop? It's hard to tell.  Anyway, nice present, have fun with your chicks and take lots of pictures!  :thumbsup

Expat Brit living the dream - 40ish chickens, 2 Beagles, 2 cats, rabbits........and counting.

Blogger for: www.thehappychickencoop.com

 

    We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.     Mother Teresa

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Expat Brit living the dream - 40ish chickens, 2 Beagles, 2 cats, rabbits........and counting.

Blogger for: www.thehappychickencoop.com

 

    We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.     Mother Teresa

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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

As far as what types of birds, we have an EE, an Australorp, a Buff Orpington, a Welsummer, and a Black Sexlink.

 

The coop is about 24" off the ground. 

 

We have chain link fence that used to be a dog run (another gift!) that we will use for a run for the chickens. There are 4 six foot sections that we will be attaching to the end of the coop (securing to the corners so the coop makes up one end of the run). I was thinking that would be a pretty decent sized area for only 5 birds. (was I wrong in assuming that?) They will be free ranging at times too. We're doing a lot of on-the-job learning/training!!! 

 

I had wanted to put the chicks and a heated brooder box in the coop so there was more room as they grew up (we're using the mama hen heating pad method versus the heat lamp and love it!) and wanted to figure out a way to feed and water them in there before they figure out the ladder. (not sure when/how to introduce them to that!) I guess in my blissful ignorance I had just assumed they needed access to water and food while in the coop. Especially since we're heading into winter. We're near Seattle so we don't get a lot of crazy cold weather - although I've heard a number of times we're supposed to get hit really hard this winter. 

 

As far as the mess, I think it's the typical mess chicks make and I was hoping that one of those PVC or bucket feeding ideas would help with the mess. But like you said, they grow up eventually! I have a quart jar inverted onto one of those red chick feeders. They emptied 2/3 of the jar in about 4 hours today! The floor of their box was piled with food and pine shavings. I decided to take the feeder out and let them scratch and eat some of the spilled food since there was more there than they had eaten in their first 5 days of life!!

 

Here's their current "brooder box" and their loving chocolate lab guard dog. You can see the water "system" lol and the glass quart jar in the back with the food just about gone. It was refilled this morning. :barnie

Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

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Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

Reply
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Balcom Clan View Post
 

As far as what types of birds, we have an EE, an Australorp, a Buff Orpington, a Welsummer, and a Black Sexlink.

 

The coop is about 24" off the ground. 

 

We have chain link fence that used to be a dog run (another gift!) that we will use for a run for the chickens. There are 4 six foot sections that we will be attaching to the end of the coop (securing to the corners so the coop makes up one end of the run). I was thinking that would be a pretty decent sized area for only 5 birds. (was I wrong in assuming that?) They will be free ranging at times too. We're doing a lot of on-the-job learning/training!!! 

 

I had wanted to put the chicks and a heated brooder box in the coop so there was more room as they grew up (we're using the mama hen heating pad method versus the heat lamp and love it!) and wanted to figure out a way to feed and water them in there before they figure out the ladder. (not sure when/how to introduce them to that!) I guess in my blissful ignorance I had just assumed they needed access to water and food while in the coop. Especially since we're heading into winter. We're near Seattle so we don't get a lot of crazy cold weather - although I've heard a number of times we're supposed to get hit really hard this winter. 

 

As far as the mess, I think it's the typical mess chicks make and I was hoping that one of those PVC or bucket feeding ideas would help with the mess. But like you said, they grow up eventually! I have a quart jar inverted onto one of those red chick feeders. They emptied 2/3 of the jar in about 4 hours today! The floor of their box was piled with food and pine shavings. I decided to take the feeder out and let them scratch and eat some of the spilled food since there was more there than they had eaten in their first 5 days of life!!

 

Here's their current "brooder box" and their loving chocolate lab guard dog. You can see the water "system" lol and the glass quart jar in the back with the food just about gone. It was refilled this morning. :barnie


Good selection of birds! Keep your eye on the Orpy, they are gentle birds and tend to get bullied. The run is going to be small at 36sq.ft total. It will be adequate while they are young, but it will be threadbare within a few days...'

 Try elevating the food jar on a piece of  wood or something, not too high they can't get to it, but higher than the shavings. The water bottle is ingenious, however, I would put another one up so that everyone can get water. Sometimes they get possessive and will not let someone use the water! :/

When you eventually put them outside, I would put the food and water in the run and the chicks in the coop. See what happens - they will eventually run down the ladder with some coaxing. Once they get the hang of it, make sure you move the food under the coop so it doesn't get rained on.

 If your current method of raising them is working for you, I really wouldn't change it until they start jumping out of the box - they will! :)

Looking good so far, huge learning curve ahead....

Expat Brit living the dream - 40ish chickens, 2 Beagles, 2 cats, rabbits........and counting.

Blogger for: www.thehappychickencoop.com

 

    We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.     Mother Teresa

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Expat Brit living the dream - 40ish chickens, 2 Beagles, 2 cats, rabbits........and counting.

Blogger for: www.thehappychickencoop.com

 

    We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.     Mother Teresa

Reply
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boskelli1571 View Post
 


Good selection of birds! Keep your eye on the Orpy, they are gentle birds and tend to get bullied. The run is going to be small at 36sq.ft total. It will be adequate while they are young, but it

will be threadbare within a few days...'

 Try elevating the food jar on a piece of  wood or something, not too high they can't get to it, but higher than the shavings. The water bottle is ingenious, however, I would put another one up so that everyone can get water. Sometimes they get possessive and will not let someone use the water! :/

When you eventually put them outside, I would put the food and water in the run and the chicks in the coop. See what happens - they will eventually run down the ladder with some coaxing. Once they get the hang of it, make sure you move the food under the coop so it doesn't get rained on.

 If your current method of raising them is working for you, I really wouldn't change it until they start jumping out of the box - they will! :)

Looking good so far, huge learning curve ahead....

 

That so funny about the Buff being bullied - she was the first day or two and it was sad to see, but now SHE'S the bully!! She gets the most holding due to be "claimed" by my 5 year old and the fact that she's the most docile. She loves being "cuddled" in our hand but definitely holds her own with the other chicks!

 

The food is elevated on an inverted bowl, maybe it's not high enough? As I write this, they're scraping our the feed with their beaks, making piles on the floor! (Actually only the EE is, the others are just watching her and enjoying the benefit of her efforts!) Is there any reason I can't let them then scratch and peck the spilled food off the floor? (not refilling the feeder until some of the food on the floor is gone)

 

We were planning on making another water bottle when we moved them to a bigger box. There's not a lot of room in the box they're in - hoping to get that fixed this week because they are already trying to hop/fly out! (at least the two black ones are) We have been leaning box lids up against the sides when we're not around to help deter them but it won't last long! I put a small paper plate under the water to catch some of the drips and the chicks love pecking at it and the food that gets collected there as it gets wet. Silly birds!! At least it keeps the shavings from getting soaked!

 

Yes, huge learning curve indeed! I knew we'd be learning things as we went, but my husband isn't quite enjoying the learning curve! :/  I'll have to see what we can do to extend the run. With how we'll be putting it together we'll have between 50-60 sq feet and that seemed like it was fairly good for just 5 birds. We have a couple of options when it comes to configuration to optimize the space. We were going to leave the space under the coop for their food and water while they're out of the coop (surrounding it in mesh so it's enclosed). If I don't have food and water in the coop, I'm curious about the whole opening and closing of the coop door.....leave it open 24/7? Attempt an automatic opener on a timer? Do they not need access to food and water during the night? I hadn't quite gotten to that part of my research! One more thing to learn!!

 

Thank you so much for your patience and willingness to help us complete novices!! I really appreciate it!

Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

Reply

Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

Reply
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Balcom Clan View Post
 

 

That so funny about the Buff being bullied - she was the first day or two and it was sad to see, but now SHE'S the bully!! She gets the most holding due to be "claimed" by my 5 year old and the fact that she's the most docile. She loves being "cuddled" in our hand but definitely holds her own with the other chicks!

 

The food is elevated on an inverted bowl, maybe it's not high enough? As I write this, they're scraping our the feed with their beaks, making piles on the floor! (Actually only the EE is, the others are just watching her and enjoying the benefit of her efforts!) Is there any reason I can't let them then scratch and peck the spilled food off the floor? (not refilling the feeder until some of the food on the floor is gone)

 

We were planning on making another water bottle when we moved them to a bigger box. There's not a lot of room in the box they're in - hoping to get that fixed this week because they are already trying to hop/fly out! (at least the two black ones are) We have been leaning box lids up against the sides when we're not around to help deter them but it won't last long! I put a small paper plate under the water to catch some of the drips and the chicks love pecking at it and the food that gets collected there as it gets wet. Silly birds!! At least it keeps the shavings from getting soaked!

 

Yes, huge learning curve indeed! I knew we'd be learning things as we went, but my husband isn't quite enjoying the learning curve! :/  I'll have to see what we can do to extend the run. With how we'll be putting it together we'll have between 50-60 sq feet and that seemed like it was fairly good for just 5 birds. We have a couple of options when it comes to configuration to optimize the space. We were going to leave the space under the coop for their food and water while they're out of the coop (surrounding it in mesh so it's enclosed). If I don't have food and water in the coop, I'm curious about the whole opening and closing of the coop door.....leave it open 24/7? Attempt an automatic opener on a timer? Do they not need access to food and water during the night? I hadn't quite gotten to that part of my research! One more thing to learn!!

 

Thank you so much for your patience and willingness to help us complete novices!! I really appreciate it!


There is no reason at all they can't eat from the floor at this point, as long as it's changed out daily, otherwise it gets' poopy and yucky :sick.   Your dimensions of 50-60sq. ft sounds good, although they'll tear it up pretty good - dust baths etc.

They don't need food/water once they have gone to bed. Leaving the door open is inviting trouble - you might get away with it for a couple of nights, but a fox could wipe out your flock in one night. I caution strongly against leaving it open. You can certainly install an automatic door, or you could do like us poor folks do and get up early! :lol:  In the winter it's not so bad, but summer will see you up at before 5am.......

If you are looking for a good book with everything 'chicken' in it, I really recommend Gail Damerows' - Storeys guide to raising chickens. It is about the only book you will ever need - it's my 'go to' book constantly. Of course, there are many websites too, but beware - just because someone said it, doesn't make it so - everyones an expert these days. Same with my advice, what has worked for me may not work for you, you have to do what fits.

 I really like to help people 'get it going', it's so important to get off to a good start otherwise you get discouraged and give up...your kids will benefit from the experience for sure.

  If I get on my soap box for a minute - maybe individuals like ourselves can change the way animals and food are viewed by 'BigAg' & Gov't. - ok - I'm done!! :rolleyes:

   Ask away - I promise not to get on the soap box again!

Expat Brit living the dream - 40ish chickens, 2 Beagles, 2 cats, rabbits........and counting.

Blogger for: www.thehappychickencoop.com

 

    We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.     Mother Teresa

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Expat Brit living the dream - 40ish chickens, 2 Beagles, 2 cats, rabbits........and counting.

Blogger for: www.thehappychickencoop.com

 

    We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.     Mother Teresa

Reply
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your input! Do you have suggestions on where/how to install/arrange the roosting bars? I was worried about needing to make space for food and water but if I don't need to do that, then I have more room for roosting. 

And what age can they safely go out there? We're getting into colder weather and I thought I'd put a heat source out there but wasn't sure how old they should be before I put them out there....? That plays into the food/water only during the day, since I was told while they're chicks to let them have access to food and water 24/7. When are they no longer considered chicks? I was originally going to put their brooder box in the coop but would still have to have food and water....I'd love to not have to do that!!

Again, thanks for your patience with my amateur questions. I am sure I should probably read a book or something! But I personally get more out of specific advice and lessons learned from others. So THANK  YOU!!

Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

Reply

Our Clan consists of 4 humans, one chocolate lab and now 5 chickens.

All chicks hatched 9/30/15 -- "Sunny" Buff Orpington, "Pepper" Black Australorp, "Fancy" Americana, "Lucy" Black Sexlink, and "Carmel" Wellsummer

Reply
post #8 of 8

Great info here already! I recently renovated an old stall into a chicken coop and run and made a waterer and feeder and saved about $40 total. I have 7 birds and both the feeder and waterer stay full and clean for about 10 days (obviously I check everything daily just to make sure) I posted a tutorial on my blog, I can't post links here yet but if you go to longbournfarm{dot}com and search "chicken" you can find it. :) Chickens are so much fun!!

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