I need to make a chicken feeder with a door that opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. I don’t want a mechanical opening feeder ( Grandpas feeders for example ). Ideally I would like it to open at sunrise and close at sunset or on a timer. Does anyone have any ideas on how this could be achieved?
Welcome along to Bunnings Workshop, it's great to have you here!
When you say you don't want a mechanically opening feeder, could you please clarify what sort of feeder door system you'd like?
I can think of a couple of ideas off the top of my head, but I'm not sure they may work for your application.
One other thing is, do you have electricity available where (or reasonably near to) this feeder?
If you could please give us some more information, that will really help us to come up with something that will work for you.
Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Mike852. It's wonderful to have you join us, and many thanks for your question about creating an automatic door chicken feeder.
You might like to check out these discussions: Automatic chicken coop door opener by @darylhewston and Automatic chicken door wiring help by @dani2526. Although these are for coop doors, a similar principle could be applied to your feeder.
One possible solution is to use an electronic controller to trigger a motor that opens and closes the door of the chicken feeder. The motor should have enough torque to lift the door and be able to run on low voltage to avoid any electrical hazards to the chickens. You can use a small rechargeable battery or a solar panel with a battery to power the motor. A solar panel is a good option as it can recharge the battery during the day. A microcontroller can be used to control the motor and set the opening and closing times. You can use an Arduino or Raspberry Pi for this purpose. A light sensor can be used to detect the sunrise and sunset times. You can program the microcontroller to open the door at sunrise and close it at sunset based on the readings from the light sensor. The feeder can be designed to house the motor and the electronic components. The door of the feeder can be attached to the motor, which will lift it up and down.
From your comment in the other discussion, it sounds like you are trying to keep vermin out of the feed. Apart from a reasonably complex electrical arrangement to open the door via motors, there have been many methods for preventing vermin access to chicken feed. One of the most basic is to hang a bucket feeder on a thin rope from the roof. The feeder should have small openings, only large enough for the chicken to insert their head. As the feeder is elevated, it's quite hard for the rats to jump up and into the holes.
I'll tag our resident poultry expert @mich1972 to see if she has some methods that would be worth considering. Let me also mention @CSParnell to see if he can think of a way to automate such an arrangement with smart devices.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
May I just clarify that the need for the mains supply near there would be to supply an extra-low voltage plug-pack type arrangement.
There are some really good 6/9/12VDC motor/gearbox combos available these days that would have more than adequate torque to operate a small gate in this fashion.
Hi and thanks very much for responding.
I don’t have power on site so a battery system would be the go. I do have space for solar.
I do have a bucket feeder made out of an old plastic bin but I hadn’t thought of suspending it. I may give that a go. I also have a PVC pipe vertical feeder that works well but still gets rodents. So my idea is simply to have a door or a lid that can close off the PVC feeder at night automatically. (I’m a shift worker so I can’t always be there).
I’m pretty handy but I’m not an electronics expert why is why I’ve put it to the forum, so pretty impressive knowledge here!
Hey @Mike852 and Team.
Honestly for ease and self containment I would be looking at an Arduino build with Servo motor.
If you scour the interwebs enough or even ask ChatGTP you will get the code you need to accomplish your outcome.
A small 9ah battery, 10w solar panel, solar regulator, Arduino l, Servo motor module and enclosure and you should be on your way.
Using something like Grid Connect yes you can program power plugs but it's over Wifi and unless your Wifi is good to that point you can run the risk of failure compared to programming stored on the Eprom locally.
Have a look at the following.
Hope that helps some