Choosing the right materials for DIY coop projects can be every bit as important as their design, particularly when it comes to feeders.
Using pressure treated wood or even old pallets, for instance, can pose potential dangers of which you should be aware.
A quick search for chicken feeders on Google or YouTube will give you numerous results to choose from in terms of design. Some of them look quite nice and very practical, others I am not so sure of. As someone who works professionally in construction, when I was reading some of the DIY’s on building chicken feeders, I was a little hesitant as to their suggestions for materials.
A lot of people recommend using scrap wood, which I believe is a great idea. It keeps it from going to landfills and therefore helps the environment. However some of these people were using pressure treated lumber or wood from old pallets which I would tend to stay away from, especially the pressure treated. Here’s why:
Pressure Treated Lumber
Lumber that has been pressure treated for use in residential and commercial building is treated with a waterborne preservative called Alkaline Copper Quat or ACQ for short. This chemical is used to help protect the wood from termites and other insects, and also fungal rot. It will corrode a regular fastener so I imagine if it seeps into the chicken feed your chickens will be none too pleased!
I am not 100 percent against using pallets; I just think you need to know what the pallet was used for previously. If it was used to ship typical boxed goods or the sacks of the chicken feed you are using, then by all means tear that thing up and give it a new life! If it was used to ship chemicals, fertilizers or the like, then I would find something else to use. If you are not sure what its previous use was ask the person you got it from, or walk around your local hardware/lumber yard and look at the pallets they use for fertilizer. Does it resemble those pallets? If you answered yes, find a new pallet.
If you are worried about the feeder rotting out and would still like to use pressure treated then by all means go ahead, I’m not stopping you. Try to keep it away from the feed though and use it only were it contacts the ground. You could coat the outside only in a natural finish like linseed oil, leaving the inside unfinished. Or you could just paint the thing in that color you love but haven’t found a use for yet. Make your neighbors chicken’s jealous.
Don’t want to use a finish at all? I would recommend cedar as it is naturally water (and bug) resistant. So, if your neighbor has a cedar fence with some boards that need replaced, ask if you can have the old ones. If you take it upon yourself to remove the old boards before they get around to replacing them with new, then make sure to step in front of your new cedar chicken feeder and shrug your shoulders when asked if you know anything about the missing boards.
I like to build furniture so I am always going to be partial to wood. Some people are not good with tools though and would rather stay away from wood. To them I might suggest using PVC. This stuff is pretty much fool-proof, just cut the length needed add any joints or caps and that’s about it. Still don’t like the idea of having to cut it, that’s fine, most big box lumber yards sell lengths of precut PVC. One downside is that if exposed to sunlight for extended periods it does become slightly more brittle.
You could always buy a chicken feeder but where is the fun in that? The sense of pride you get from building it yourself is more than you get from buying anything. If you are worried about how it looks, don’t be, I guarantee your chickens aren’t concerned. Have some fun with this and go out and build something! Make sure to share your results on Facebook.