Automating your Chicken Coop - A quick guide for beginners with your first Backyard Chickens

Automating daily tasks for your Backyard or Farm yard flock can make the difference between it being practical or not especially for those of us in Metropolitan area's or hobby farms wher we have day job's but understand the benefits and importants of having chickens and those yummy home laid eggs or meat chickens raised by our own hands.

To begin with we need products and devices that make sure your chickens are watered, feed and secure at night from foxes and other predators these are top priority from day one.
Watchful Rooster have products and devices to address all 3 of these area's and tasks

  1.  Automatic Chicken Waterer that is connected using standard Garden hose connectors that works on both mains water and Tank low pressure water.
  2.  Chicken Feeders Gravity Feeders that allow for weekly refilling or buy as many as you need to acheive the refill schedule that suits your circumstances
  3. Automatic Chicken Doors or Opener that open and close to let the chickens out early or at a time you want and close the door in the evening all preset by a convenient timer.

How Much Do Chickens Drink?

Typically Adult egg laying Chickens will drink from 0.5 in Moderate warm weather and a 1 Litre or more in more extreme heat.  This being the case you need to make sure you calculate the needs of your flock so for 5 chickens you would need 5x0.5= 2.5 Litres per day Minimum in moderate weather and in extreme heat 5-6 litres a day of water with the addition of a Automatic Tap Timer  you can programe to give the chickens fresh water  all through the day putting it on for 2-4 minutes every 2 hours in the summer would be a good idea.   As this would provide them plenty of fresh water to drink. If you have a bigger flock such as 18 chickens on our 6 Point Chicken Nipple Drinker you would need to have 18 litres a day in the heat of an Australian Summer of high 30's and 40+ degrees celcius to do that you would need to program refills every 2 houra at minimum and to be on the safe side a top up every hour wheter the tap timer is running for 5 minutes depending on the mains pressure and how fast the flow is that you have set on your garden tap.  If you are not good at calculations just check the water level all through the day and if you see your feathered girls are drinking it down ad an additional refill time many Tap Timers have up to 16 Programmable times.  Check out our Solar Tap Timer aviailable on our website.

How much feed to a chicken?
Chickens eat constantly all through the day especially during egg laying where they small bodies are busy consuming the protein, calcium and minerals needed for constant egg laying each day.  So it is essential that they have constant access food this includes your pellet feed and or grain mix, scraps yes they eat pretty much anything and dont worry if its yesterdays scraps chicken can eat without ill effects unlike you or me.   The more you provide for them from leftovers access to garden beds full of bugs even compost with maggots and any other larvae and bugs of all discriptions it will all contribute to a smaller food bill for their feed.  As they eat all through the day whether in the coop first thing in the morning or in the coop run area's and even in the backyard or fields and paddocks around the farm yard.

Anything from 110grams for a Bantam and twice that 200+ grams per chicken is a rule of thumb if they are off the lay then less than that.  So one of our Gravity Feeders holds about 4kg's of feed will feed 5 regular sized hens for 3-4 days. 
Below is a handy table that is a reflection of our experience with flocks of different sizes refilling schedule also is a deciding factor in  how many you may want usually for busy city folk a refill on the Sunday is a good routine for those with time and who like to spend time with their feathered girls then less feeders are an option, keep in mind also enough feed for those times you need to get away or other emergencies where they will be left for several days without you or your family.

 5 Chickens x Once a week = 2 Feeders
Chickens x Once a week = 3 Feeders
10 Chickens x Once a week = 3 - 4 Feeders
20 Chickens x Once a week = 6 - 8 Feeders
30 Chickens x Once a week = 9 - 12 Feeders
40 Chickens x Once a week = 12 -16 Feeders
50 Chickens x Once a week = 15 - 20 Feeders

What we have?

  1. Watchful Rooster have manual and Automatic Waterer's and feeders to help make sure that it's easy for you and accessable for your chickens.  Our most popular product is the Automatic Chicken Waterer with 3 nipples and is made in a easy to handle single piece that can be held in one hand when empty and easily installed on to a coop wall chicken wire or run fence.  Fitted with a custom float mechanism to provide constant flow of water it has either a Reinforced Plastic or Brass Shank and Tap adaptors that can easily be connected to any standard garden hose.  Adding a Solar or Standard Water timer allows for timed refills whilst avoiding mains pressure constantly on the connected garden hose, in addition the use of a tap timer avoids water wastage or bill shock if a hose bursts from overheating in the sun or failure from other causes in the garden, coop and run area's.   The easy to use lids allow for water level inspection with the added benefit of being able to add Apple Cider vinegar, vitamins, water based medicine and antibiotics if and when you need to do this to maintain healthy and aid in recovery of your flock from chicken flu or other disease.

We chose to use Chicken Nipples instead of Lubing Cups in our closed water source drinkers and waterers, as this is recommended by Poultry Vets around the world as this reduces the risk of airborne diseases being transfered from native and other birds such as pieons and doves that bathe in open water containers as they visit local and other flocks over a wide area.

It's not just our opinion Read What the Chicken Vet is saying! :
"As a vet, I recommend that everyone raising hens change from open water sources to nipple drinkers....the hens get plenty of water, and the disease reduction is so striking that there is no doubt which is better."
~ Dr. Mike Petrik, DVM, MSc, The Chicken Vet.

Gravity Feeders designed to hold enough feed for 2-3 Chickens for a week, and also deter wastage due to flicking (when set at the correct height)  they are waterproof so can be used inside the coop and out in a run area with an easy pushon rain cover that also acts to deter the previously mentioned feed flicking.  They can easily be used in a Brooder with the cover off whilst your chicks are growing and you simply change the feed at the appropriate age. We also use a gravity feeder to provide shell grit option for our chickens in a Gravity Feeder as they know when they need it. 
Check out the video overviews of chickens using our Automatic Waterers and Gravity Feeders:

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  1. Automatic Chicken Door Opener and Actuator Powered Chicken Door
    An Automated solution is essential for most Backyard Chickens even farmyard ones because lets me honest there are times we cant be home to let our feathered flock out in the morning or close them in at night, life has its range of situations where we cant be there be it emergencies, holidays or other unforseen delays on getting home or we simply forget due to our busy lifestyles.  Unfortunatley their are Foxes, Quoll's and other hungry animals ready to take advantage of these seemingly one off situations and having the coop door open only once is all it takes to lost hundreds of dollars or your beloved feathered friend to the cruelty of a predator.
    The Watchful Rooster Automatic Chicken Door Opener and Motorised Chicken Coop Door  meet the needs a complete unit strong and made of robust Aluminium ready to mount in a few minutes with either Timer or Light Activated Sunrise / Sunset Mode you can choose which suits you better. The Door Units are Ready to mount on any coops wall or door with a Actuator driven motor it acts as lock to any predator who may attempt to lift or pry open the door as can happen with gravity string based Chicken Coop Opener's, due to its strength a safety bar is installed that will stop the door if poultry, fingers, children or even adults get in the way of the closing action and will continue closing once it is clear  see video for demonstration.  The Controller is seperate and can be filled anywhere within 30 Meters of the door(s) their is a single door controller as well as a 3 Door Controller for Breeders and other situations where multiple doors are required.

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Bird Wildlife Deterrent
Another step to prevent both feed consumption and birds being trapped in the coop is to install bird deterrent strip door curtain that allows allows the chickens ducks to walk through but stops the smaller birds from flying / entering and getting trapped inside the coop.  We are looking at this for a future add-on option.

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