When the chickens were approaching the point of starting to lay I needed to increase their calcium so the egg shells would be nice and hard. I have read that a layer feed gives this additional calcium, but that additional calcium is not so good for the roosters. I read that many keeping rooster feed a flock/grower feed then add the additional calcium with oyster shells free choice. Not wanting a container that could be walked in and tipped over, I cruised the internet looking for ways to offer the oyster shell and saw many people use PVC pipe to make chicken feeders. They have the ability to load a lot of feed into the pipe and the chickens access the grain through an elbow or Wye at the bottom end. I decided I could adapt the PVC feeders to feed the oyster shells as well as the grit I offer.
So I made two of them for the grit and oyster shell and put them up against the coop. I also created a shorter one that I have put in alfalfa pellets that have been soaked in water to create a mash texture. These PVC feeders were pretty easy to create.. you just need a 10 foot piece of 3” PVC pipe and some Wyes. Then you need a way to keep what you put in the pipe from falling out and also a way to cap off the top.
I decided to use plastic caps as they were less expensive than a PVC cap.It also meant I did not have to make additional cuts to the PVC to insert a smaller piece with a cap into the bottoms. I got some silicon and sealed the plastic caps up in the bottom of the Wyes. After a 24 hour time to cure they held nicely.
I took my 10 foot PVC pipe and cut the pipe into two 3-foot lengths. I used my Dremmel to cut the PVC as I find it much easier than using a hacksaw. Lacking the Dremmel the hacksaw will make the cuts as well. That left me with a 6 foot piece that was pretty much too long. So I cut about a 2 1/2 foot piece and assembled the shorter stack to use to feed the alfalfa I recently got. I have been soaking the alfalfa pellets and adding a handful of the mash to their fermented feed and the chickens love it, so wanted to add some free choice as well.
The only issue I had is I bought 3″ pipe and 3″ fittings and they do not fit together. I had expected to come home and use PVC glue to put the two together and there was a bit of space between the pipe and the fitting.. too much to actually use the glue for. Not in the mood for a return trip to Lowe’s I wedges a cardboard strip in between the two then taped it heavily to keep the two pieces together. For what I am using it for it is working just fine. Someday I may get some other Wyes and when the feeders empty I will re-work them so actually glued.
Overall ,this is a pretty simple way to keep things free choice and available to the chickens. I have not had issues with water getting in, but with the grit and oyster shell some water getting in will not make a affect them. If I was using this to provide food that water would adversely affect.. I would spend the extra money to get the PVC caps and make these more water and possible rodent proof. For what I paid and the time it took i am finding it all well spent. And the chickens seem pretty pleased with them as well.