I have been trying to create some hanging chicken scratch feeders for a little while. I started out HERE and then, followed the perfect recipe HERE with better results. It still didn't work the way I pictured it in my head. I am not the sort to give up. I am also not the sort to continue working past usefulness. Instead, I tucked the idea away into the recesses of my mind to let it process. While sorting through my canning supplies today, the planets aligned and an idea clicked into place.
I came across about 15 rings that had started to show their age. Normally, I stick these into the metal recycling bin and when it is full, Sean takes the bin to our local scrap yard and brings me home cash monies. I had anticipated that fate for these. Then, it came to me that I could perhaps use these...
I grabbed a roll of jute twine from my garden supplies and cut it into pieces roughly a 16 inches long. I passed the jute twine through the ring and placed the it with the lip side down. To protect my table from the greasy mess I anticipated this project could become, I lined my largest cookie pan with a piece of parchment paper.
I melted a pound of lard in the microwave and mixed it with some reserved bacon grease. (You do not need to use bacon grease, but I had some from our breakfast and it won't harm the chickens, so I added it to mine.)
I mixed approximately 6 cups of chicken scratch into the melted lard.
It should look something like this:
I began scooping the mixture into the rings with a spoon to start with, but then, I abandoned that and just pressed it firmly into the rings with my fingers. Be sure to compact it as much as you can. I even rounded mine a little over the top.
This project started to set up almost immediately and it held together beautifully.
I like several things about this project.
1. It is a good use of a material that would otherwise go to the scrap yard. And, I can reuse the rings repeatedly as the chickens empty them.
2. They are a good size for several chickens to peck at simultaneously. And, the scratch mixture can be eaten from both sides.
3. The feeders swing easily when the chickens peck them which provides more exercise and play for them than a stationary feeder would.
4. Once my chickens figured out what this new toy was, they loved it.
One of the Red Stars came to check out my tray of goodies before I even had a chance to begin tying them to the fencing.
It didn't take long for the interest of the other chickens to be piqued and try it out for themselves.
I purposefully tied them farther in the yard than our feathered friends usually prefer to travel. They'd much rather stay on the hay. I wanted to have the chance to hang them all before they were eaten and gone. Once they were secured, I spread some hay on the snow to make getting to them and eating from the rings more pleasant.
Unfamiliar as the rings were, at first, there was no mad rush to eat them up. That changed in a hurry.
I secured 6 of the rings to the fencing tonight. I'll check them in the morning to see if any survived to see the sunrise. I doubt it, though. Finally! I have succeeded in making a chicken scratch feeder that I really like! It is not very pretty, perhaps, but it is definitely functional!
Thanks for stopping in for a visit tonight. I hope you'll come again soon.
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