Building Better Chicken Feeders

I’ve received several requests for details on my chicken feeders, so since I’m getting ready to build a few more I took the time to make some measurements. Please don’t consider anything I write here to be an absolute requirement.  These are just my observations.  There are a lot of ways to build a good chicken feeder.  And there are even more ways to build a terrible feeder. Below I diagram the cross-section of the business end of my layer hen feeder. None of these dimensions are critical, but all of them… Read More

Chickens Grooming Pigs

I noticed a strange behavior in the pigs’ hoophouse today. I was adding bales of bedding hay when I became aware that pigs were coming in from their yard after taking a drink from the milk trough, and then just standing in the doorway. They’d wait there patiently despite all the other milling, snuffling pigs, as if they were expecting something. And moments later a hen would run over and start pecking all the drops of milk from the pig’s chin. Once cleaned, the pig would continue on its way to do… Read More

Bedding Management

This winter I’ve changed up my bedding management for the laying hens.  They are free to walk out of their hoophouse, but with everything consistently snowbound this winter there hasn’t been much for them to find out in the fields and so they prefer to stay closer to home.  All those hens dropping turds all day and night makes for messy bedding. Instead of adding new bedding, I’ve been running the rototiller through the building once every week or two.  Chicken manure tends to form a cap on the bedding, and this… Read More

Chilling and Truck Shopping

Looks like the weather has repented of its dalliance with springtime and returned to proper winteriness.  The contrast between 60 degrees and -8 degrees is pretty stark.   Yesterday’s warm rain froze solid, creating beautiful ice sculptures, but making many simple tasks challenging.  Doors on the walk in cooler and the pig’s milk greenhouse were frozen shut.  Fence reels were locked up.  And so on.  But I guess if I could choose winter weather, I prefer solidly frozen winters to mushy, muddy ones. In the meantime, we’re still weighing out several options for… Read More

A Mess and a Thanks

I saw the gauges going crazy, but I was on the road in a whiteout of blowing snow before sunrise at zero degrees, so I wasn’t about to pull over onto the partially-cleared shoulder to investigate.  Instead I kept driving on as the oil pressure gauge flipped between normal and zero.  I have had other Fords with faulty oil sensors, so I was hoping for the same here.  But rattle, rattle, boom, boom, and then the van was losing speed just as I was approaching a Thruway siding.  The engine bearings were… Read More

Frost Free Chicken Water

I’ve tried all kinds of schemes for providing water for chickens during the winter.  This year, I think I’m finally close to a satisfactory design. This design owes a lot of credit to a similar system described at Green Machine Farm.  I’m using a very similar setup with an aquarium pump, a tank heater, an insulated tank, and a recirculating loop.  Besides the fact that I’m using a bigger tank and more insulation, my design differs in that I’m using horizontal nipples instead of vertical nipples.  The horizontal nipples spill more water,… Read More