For the record, I’m talking about a buffet FOR the hens, not OF the hens!

For some time now, I have wanted to devise a way for my layers to have free-shoice access to their supplements, but had some trouble.  I don’t have a huge coop, so my free space is very limited.  I didn’t want a seperate hanging container for every supplement.  I also couldn’t have bowls of supplements laying around, or the scratching hens would simply fill them with dirty bedding. Finally, I found a supplement and grain feeder that I loved. 

Supplement feeder from Murray McMurray Hatchery (http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/free_choice_wall_feeder.html)

 

I did NOT love it enough to pay the $110 +shipping asking price, however!  I liked several things about it, though–the free-choice access, the wall-mounted, compact design, the seperate sections to divide the supplements, the easy-to-clean stainless steel construction, and so forth.  So, I started lookng into options that could meet that criteria, and suddenly had a “light-bulb moment.”

First, I bought solid bottom rabbit feeders ($10/each), then gathered some scrap wood and screws. I drilled 2 holes into the back of each feeder, then drilled the screws into the backside of the board and into the back of the feeder.  The downside of this is that the screw tips stick out into the inside of the feeder, but it’s the best I could do.  I could probably snip the tips off one day, but I don’t really anticipate a big problem since I would only stick my hand in there for occasional, rare, cleaning.  In that case, I guess I could simply take the unit apart. 

After attaching the feeders to the backboard, I then attached the entire unit to the inside wall of my coop.  Of course, the downside of attaching anything to the inside of a chicken coop is that chickens like to perch on it, resulting in feeders full of poultry manure.  To overcome this problem, I used additional scraps we had to build a steeply slanted roof, positioned over the feeder unit.  I did have to position this carefully since the only real downside to these feeders is that the tops open from the back (since they are designed to be placed on the outside of a rabbit cage),  I had to be sure to leave plenty of clearance to fit my hand and a supplement scoop underneath to fill the feeders, but not have it so high that “teenage” chicks would be tempted to perch on the feeders anyway. 

Custom made "Poultry Buffet"!

I built the entire unit in about 2 hours, for around $30 plus the cost of a few screws.  I’m sure you could build it much cheaper, but I was in a rush and didn’t have a lot of time for price-comparing the feeders.  If you could find a rabbitry going out of business, then you could potentially design it for little to no cost!  You could potentially build it out of scrap wood, but I prefer the improved hygiene of steel. 

 In any case, now, my girls have their own personal buffet, where they pick and choose whether they want grit, oyster shell, or kelp.  One great advantage of this design is that I can always add additional feeders if I decide I want a new supplement.

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