There are some fancy schmancy chicken food & water dispensers out there, and they cost a lot of money. There are several different designs out there, but the main ideas behind the good dispensers are all the same:
1. They only put out a little bit of food or water at a time, so the goods stay cleaner, and there is less waste.
2. They hold a lot of food & water so you don’t have to change or refill often. They keep feed clean and dry and protected from unwanted critters and creatures.
3. They are easy to refill when you need to.
4. They are hard to tip over, minimizing waste.
We made a gravity feeder for Maxine’s chicken tractor, and have it hanging underneath the roost so it won’t get super poo-ed. Food is stored in a piece of gutter from Home Depot (less than $3) and a plastic container that held mushrooms from the grocery store.
We poked one hole towards the lower end of each gutter face, and two holes in each face (except the bottom) of the mushroom container. Then we strung a string through as shown above to attach the containers together. Then we filled it with feed.
The chickens eat from the bottom, and the weight of the feed pushes more into the bottom for the chicken to eat.
I think this one passes the first three criteria above. If your chickens peck viciously, the bottom tray does tilt a little. Perhaps in version 2.0, we would tie knots to keep the string from sliding around and rearranging the hanging angle.
This is very low-tech but pretty effective. All it is is a ribbed tin can tied to the hardware cloth. Refilling is easy (just pour water through the hardware cloth and down into the can). Since it is mounted to the angled part of the hardware cloth, birds can’t sit right on top and poo down into it. It doesn’t hold tons of water, but I think it’s better to be changing water often anyway. And you can install several according to how frequently you want to refill it. So, this system passes criteria #1, 3, and 4.
These big branches are nice for the birds to hang out on in the run area. But how to attach? Credit goes to my sister for this very simple mounting technique. Drive two screws into the end grain. Lift the stick into the A-frame section and it will grab onto some of the hardware cloth.