I keep chickens in my back yard, and have built a few things for them. The most time consuming so far has been an automated feeder. The first version’s build is documented on my isocline blog. I ended up rebuilding with a different design after several days of rain dissolved the glue holding the wooden case together. The new version uses a vertical door, which does a much better job of shedding debris, and is less likely to jam. I also added play to the drive linkage so that if the door is obstructed while closing the motor and drive cam can continue moving into position – this avoids a failure mode where the door sticks and the motor remains energized, completely draining the battery.
The current challenge is that I sized the solar cell during the winter, when there were no leaves on the trees in the yard. Now that it’s summertime and quite shady, I can’t maintain a charge in the lead acid gel-cell, thanks to the power hungry analog circuits I used. I’ll need a more efficient circuit, a bigger solar cell, or an extension cord to keep it running.
I also built a waterer for them, which is a really fast build with a bit of PVC glue and a few chicken nipples. The only difficult part here was threading the nipples into the PVC pipe. If you don’t have the right tap on hand, like me, drilling oversized holes and using silicone to hold the nipples in place has worked well. If I were doing this again, I’d spring for a plain white bucket and a lit with a screw off fill opening, since prying the lid off to refill can be difficult.
With a friend, I build the coop you see in the background from a few scrapped hardwood pallets. It’s got a hardware cloth bottom, which makes cleanout easy, and both the side and the roof open up for easy access to eggs and cleaning. The ramp is retractable, but we’ve stopped closing it at night since the neighboring dogs seem to keep wildlife away.