Monthly Archives: May 2010

Lambs are Here!

I bought ten little Hampshire and Southdown lambs yesterday.  They’re happily grazing the lush spring grass, loving every minute of the sunshine.   I have missed owning sheep.  It’s a happy day on Provenance Farm now that we are back in the sheep business!

Call now to reserve a half or whole lamb for later this summer.   There’s nothing better than a good lamb roast!

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How-To: Chicken Feeder from PVC Pipe

I’m a big fan of these feeders.  In terms of being low-cost, easy to assemble, lightweight and durable, they are as good as it gets!  We use these feeders for both our egg-layers and our broiler chickens.  Each feeder holds about 15 lbs of feed and one is sufficient for a broiler pen of 80 birds.

Materials:

  • 6-inch PVC pipe, Schedule 40 or lighter.  (You can sometimes find this inexpensively at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore)
  • 1/2″ plywood (minimum thickness)
  • 3/4″ plywood (minimum thickness)
  • 1.25″ and 1.75″ wood or drywall screws
  • rebar or electrical metal conduit (also something you can pick up at the Habitat ReStore if you keep an eye out)

Tools:

  • Circular saw
  • Hand saw
  • Band saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Flat drill bit for boring holes.  Same diameter as the rebar or electrical metal conduit.
  • Measuring Tape
  • Permanent Marker

Step 1:  Measure your pipe to 5 feet in length and mark around the pipe with a permanent marker.

Step 2:  Prop the pipe on a sawhorse, or a couple of garbage cans and cut on your marks with an old handsaw.  This may dull the teeth of the saw, especially over time, so use an old one if possible.

Step 3:  Measure the diameter of the pipe and calculate the exact center of the circle.  Draw a line down each side of the pipe to mark where you will cut the pipe in half.  Using the printed words on the pipe may help to serve as a guide to verify that the line is straight.

Step 4:  Secure the pipe on a sawhorse and cut down the line with a circular saw.  Wear safety glasses, as the PVC shavings are bad news.  It is a very good idea to have a helper holding the two halves apart as you cut.  The halves tend to fold in on one another as you move down the pipe.

I don’t have a picture of this step….was too busy cutting!   It’s not difficult though, so don’t be afraid to fire up the circular saw.

Step 5:  Trace the end of the pipe onto a piece of wood with a pencil, making a template.  Use a bandsaw to cut 2 half-circles per feeder out of 3/4″ plywood (can be thicker).  These will fit into the the ends of the feeder, so they must be the correct size.

Step 6:  Cut 7.25″ x 7.25″ squares out of 1/2″ (or thicker) plywood. If you have the means, you can trim the corners off, as shown in this post.   Doing so will give you one less thing to catch your leg on while feeding.

Step 7:  Insert the half-circles into the ends of the pipe and secure with 1.75″ wood screws, spaced evenly around.  If your plywood begins to split, drill holes instead and then put in the screws.

Then, attach the squares to the half-circles with two or three 1.25″ screws. The screws should be short enough that they don’t come out through other side of the half-circle.

Step 8:  Using a flat drill bit, bore a hole through each square piece of plywood, at the correct diameter to fit the handle.

It’s incredibly useful to have the handle so that you can quickly lift the feeder out of the broiler pen with one hand, while propping up the lid with the other hand.  The handle also acts as a barrier to keep the chickens from climbing in the feeder and scratching out the pellets.  Don’t skimp and skip this step.

Step 9: Cut a piece of electrical conduit (easily done with an old hacksaw) or a piece of rebar…anything less than about 3/4″ diameter can be used as a handle.  Insert into the holes, and secure with a long screw inserted from the top of the square plywood.

Allow the Quality Assurance Cat to inspect your work.

Now you’re ready to feed chickens!

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Brooder and Hover Plans

As promised, I have uploaded our plans for building portable, low-cost brooders and hovers. These brooders are modeled after one pictured in Joel Salatin’s book, “Pastured Poultry Profits”, but we developed the design ourselves.

The following pictures should be of help to anyone who is inexperienced in construction.  They are really easy to put together, and require minimum tools; just a circular saw, a cordless drill, a hammer and a square.  The cost for each one came to just less than $200.

There are probably ways to build these better, and if you’re experienced you’ll probably catch things we did wrong.  But at the end of the day, they are sturdy, watertight and are doing a great job brooding chicks.  Use our guide as a base and make any changes as you see fit.

Link to PDF file for plans:  Provenance Farm Brooder and Hover Plans

one wall, partially constructed

completed wall

all four walls joined to create the brooder frame

brooder frame, with partially completed plywood walls

cut removable plywood panels for sides

attach hinges for lids

Finished brooder (with sides removed)

Select an experimental chicken

test brooder for chicken-holding capacity

When satisfied with chicken-holding capability, drag brooder to designated Brooding Spot

Build a few more, and you're in business

Link to PDF file for plans: Provenance Farm Brooder and Hover Plans

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