New coop planning - best feed/water ideas?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by GardenFae, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. GardenFae

    GardenFae Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all!

    I'm starting a brand-new coop with 3 birds - 2 Gold-Laced Wyandottes and an EE - this spring (the chicks' arrival date is 3/13). Needless to say I'm super excited but as I'm planning the coop I keep coming up with all sorts of details that I overlooked when I was first planning for the chicks. One of those things is feeders and waterers!

    I've done some preliminary research and looked at places like Amazon, Tractor Supply Co, and mypetchicken, and also skimmed the forum here but it's been a little confusing. I want to go inexpensive (not "cheap", but I am on a tiiiiiiiiight budget and if it can go from the brooder box to the coop and the chicks won't outgrow it, that's a good start), long-lasting, and simple. I know a lot of people have vented frustrations about the universal jar-on-base style feeders and waterers, but they're also the simplest starting option - no building! So: convince me. What's the best alternative to the cheap plastic jars?

    1. The PVC pipe feeders or bucket feeders look interesting... but can I build one that will work for both week-old chicks and adult hens? Or should I just spend $5 on a chick feeder and build one for them when they get older? Has anyone had serious problems transitioning hens to different feeding systems?

    2. Water - I get that open waterers are going to have occasional spills. This makes me think a nipple system is a great innovation. I found a product on mpc that screws onto a standard soda bottle and has a nipple on the cap. Good idea/bad idea? I like it because I think I could just size up the bottle as the chicks grow... assuming I can figure out a way to mount it!

    3. Inside or outside? My coop is about 4x4 plus an outside nest box to keep floor space free but I'm not sure how much of a footprint my feeder/waterer are going to take up (that's part of why I'm looking at alternatives to the jar-with-base plan - those things seem like a waste of space). I plan on raising the coop about 2' off the ground with run space underneath - is that a good place to keep them feeder/waterer or am I risking pest invasion by keeping food outside (albeit behind 1/2" hardware cloth)? This is an urban coop, and I spotted a rat near my compost pile last fall but otherwise just a handful mice and voles (mostly dragged in dead by the cat).

    4. Crumbles or pellets or whole/cracked grains? Supplements? Aaaaaaaaah! So many choices! I'm reading that crumbles seem to stick/not flow as well in feeders - is there any reason to prefer crumble vs. pellets? Are they better for chicks? I'm planning a trip to Tractor Supply and want to pick up starter feed but would like to grab a bag of grower feed at the same time (if it'll keep), since the nearest store is a pretty good hike (26mi out and back, and that's 2gal+ of gas in my Jeep). Help!

    Sorry for all the questions - I want my babies to be well cared for! ^_^
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  2. AlanW

    AlanW Out Of The Brooder

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    1. Bucket type feeders are nice because you can see how much is in them, at a glance. I'm sure PVC is fine too. Transitioning problems? I can't imagine, as the birds find food wherever it might be.

    2. I tried the nipple system. It was a leaker. I could've probably fixed it, but as winter approached, I realized I didn't really have a way to address freezing temperatures with a nipple system. I ended up with a fountain and heated base.

    3. If you keep the food outside, be mindful of how you will protect it from birds and other critters. I keep everything inside because there are days that the weather doesn't permit outdoor activity.

    4. I think crumbles, especially while young. When they are adults, they seem to like crumbles better too, but won't starve on pellets either. I think you can get combination starter/grower feeds, which might be suitable in your situation.
     
  3. LUVMYCHIKAS

    LUVMYCHIKAS Out Of The Brooder

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    I agree with AlanW on all issues. My experiences as well. I just wanted to add that we keep our food and water in the coop, at the expense of floor space, and our run is 6' chain link with an additional 2' of hardware cloth on the bottom and a foot out on the ground. Yet, we still have a rodent visitor who has managed to find a way to tunnel into the run every night. He can't get into the coop, it is rodent proof. He comes for crumbs of scratch that the birds must leave behind that aren't visible to the human eye. We've tried trapping him, but so far he's not been taken! I won't put out poison because of the chickens and we also have 4 labs that manage to get into almost anything.
    You seem well prepared so I'm sure everything will go smoothly and your babies will be happy and healthy! Best of luck to you! :)
     
  4. GardenFae

    GardenFae Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the answers! :)

    I found a shelf for $0.99 at the hardware store where I work (yay, clearance!). It's one of those metal adjustable shelf units, so I can move the single shelf on it up as the birds grow and keep their water up off the floor - awesome. So now I'm much less worried about keeping it inside the coop. I guess with winter watering my choices are heating their dish or replacing the water every few hours, huh?

    Considering just using a mason jar and shallow dish for the chicks the first few weeks while I take stock of how much they eat and how big a bucket feeder I'll need, then building one that I can move to the henhouse as they age. So that's cool too.

    Luvmychikas, I have a lab too! Just one, though. She's a mix of lab and something else and she's really adorable but boy is she hard to keep out of things! I guess I'll have to up my game on the hardware cloth! So much for a budget build, haha!

    You guys have been really reassuring. I'm glad I have this forum to help me figure things out. One month till chickies!
     
  5. pawtraitart

    pawtraitart Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For your feed/water shelf, make sure it's a surface that is easily cleaned because your birds will poop on it. [​IMG]
     
  6. GardenFae

    GardenFae Out Of The Brooder

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    Haha, of course! This is what I nabbed:

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-3-75-lb-Supreme-Stacking-Shelf-in-Chrome-6054-584/203877979

    I figure I can just hose it down and not worry, since I paid a dollar for it! It won't hold both but it's sturdy enough for a 5gal watering bucket and heat-resistant if I need to add a water heater in winter.
     
  7. ryescas13

    ryescas13 New Egg

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    soda bottles or buckets are not the best when it comes to your hens. Soda bottles are clear and with the sun hitting it, its just a matter of time before it gets moldy. with buckets the size and weight makes them impractical. Look at the link below the item its takes up very little room and it holds 2 gallons.
    Chicken Turkey Poultry Waterer
    http://r.ebay.com/eK4WZ5
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You might want to look at the Fermented Feed thread. For a flock of 3 girls, you might find that a simple dog food bowl, the kind where the base is bigger than the top will do nicely after they're a couple of months old. The FF will cut down on the feed wasted, thus decreasing the likelihood of attracting vermin. It will also make your feed dollar stretch farther, and an extra bonus is that your chicken's poop won't be as smelly. The only down side to FF is that you have to give them fresh feed every day, and, at least in my situation, it freezes in the winter, but there are ways to work around that. What ever you choose to do, you'll want both feed and water to be high enough so that it is level with the height of the chicken's backs to avoid them filling their dishes with shavings.
     
  9. clevetromba

    clevetromba Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote: I'm new to this as well, my chicks are supposed to hatch April 16th, so I only know what I've read. Regarding buying extra feed ahead of time, I read that you only want to buy enough to keep one month in advance and that you should check the manufacture date on the bag to make sure it's fresh. Apparently feed can begin to go bad and/or lose quality as it ages. This was from Harvey Ussery's book, Small Scale Poultry Flock.

    Does anyone have conflicting information on this?
     
  10. ClovisMan

    ClovisMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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  11. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    That's a huge amount of feed. Are they billing a lot out into the litter? Is your feed in a secure, rodent proof container?
     

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