Monday, March 12, 2012

Automatic Feeder

This was a little project that I built over the last couple days. It has nothing to do with the Freedom Ranger Project, as it is intended for just for my laying hens. I am tired of the wild birds eating my chicken feed. I saw a couple of these automatic feeders online and decided to try building one myself.

Here is a set of free plans and instructions:
I used these plans as more of a guide and changed some of the dimensions to suit my needs, mainly making the entire feeder wider to accommodate more chickens at the same time.

The idea is that the chicken(s) must step on the treadle which then opens the lid exposing the feed. Wild birds aren't heavy enough to open it. With the linkage at its current setting, it takes about 2-1/2 lbs. to open. That is a very large russet potato (from last years garden) on the treadle, it probably weighs about 1-1/2 lbs which isn't enough to open it, but with two of them (about 3 lbs.) it opens.

I built it out of some left over half inch plywood and cedar fence boards. I love using the 1x6" dog-eared cedar  fence boards cause they are super light and naturally weather resistant, and they are pretty cheap at $1.50 or so each at Home Depot. Since I usually only need a handful at a time I can sort through the stack and pick out some nice solid heart wood with sound knots. I will probably paint the plywood and stain the cedar.

The hardest part was the linkage. I just kind of guessed at where to put the pivot holes for the feed lid and treadle arms. Then I played with various lengths and position of the connecting piece until I got the travel I wanted. If you click on the picture you can see that I drilled a few test wholes on each arm. I am still a little worried about the how steep the angle is on the treadle in the full open position (which is about the same as the roof at 19 degrees or 4/12 pitch)

Here is a view with the roof lid off. I made the feed compartment angled so that it would push out toward the front. I will not finish the inside at all so that nothing contaminates the feed. If you are interested on the exact measurement or a plan, email me and I will send you a measured drawing.

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