Article and above photo by Jeff Nickols
I constructed my feeder using one 21⁄32-inch-by-16-inch-by-72-inch edge-glued pine panel for the body of the feeder and two 5⁄8-inch-by-6-inch-by-72-inch cedar fence boards for the trim and arm pieces. You may substitute plywood for the pine and cedar boards. I used scraps from my chicken coop construction for the first feeder I constructed. Even purchasing all of the lumber, the cost was less than $20: $15.79 for the pine panel and about $2 each for the cedar fence boards. Add a few wood screws and wood glue, and you have all the supplies you need to get started.
1. Attach sides 1 and 2 to the base using 1 1⁄2-inch wood screws and glue.
2. Attach back of feeder to the sides and base with 1 1⁄2-inch wood screws and glue. The 15-degree angle along the top should be flush with the angle of sides 1 and 2.
3. Attach the 2 front pieces to front of feeder with 1 1⁄2-inch wood screws.
4. Attach the 11⁄2-inch cedar trim pieces to the top of the lid board so that the lid will nest over the top of the feeder box.
Hinged trough cover
5. Attach the 6-inch-wide cedar board to the 1 1⁄2-inch cedar arms using 1-inch wood screws. The cedar splits easily, so predrill carefully.
6. To attach the cover to the feeder, I put the cover in place in the closed position, and then marked my attachment point on the feeder box. I experimented with using wooden dowels, machine screws, and various nuts and bolts. All of them worked fine, but not any better than using 1 1⁄2-inch wood screws.
7. Remember not to screw the arms tight to the side of the feeder, leave some wiggle room for the cover to swing freely.
8. The treadle is constructed in the same fashion as the trough cover. Attach to the feeder box with 1 1⁄2-inch wood screws 9 inches from the front end of the platform.
9. The riser arms are screwed to the treadle arms 1 inch from each end using 1-inch wood screws. With the riser arms attached to the treadle, depress the treadle all the way down, as if a chicken were standing on it, and then raise the trough lid as wide open as you would like it to be when in use. Put a board or brick on the treadle so you don’t have to hold it. Now you can attach the riser arms to the trough lid using 1-inch wood screws. Mine is 7 1⁄2 inches from the front of the trough lid. The farther away from the hinge point you attach the riser arm, the less force it takes to raise the lid, but the lid will not open as wide. The further back you attach the riser arms, the more weight required to open the lid, but the lid opens wider. If you are starting off with small chicks, adjust the riser arms further from the hinge point — it is easy to adjust this mechanism as the chicks grow.
Jeff and Rebecca Nickols reside on seven acres in Southwest Missouri. Check out their blog and see a video of the chicken feeder at work at http://bit.ly/1v6wgNF.