5 Things I Won’t Farm Without

The last couple of years we have worked to change and streamline our operation, limiting the amount of time we spend on daily chores while also focusing on increasing the quality of our products. There are several things that have really made a difference. I’ll link to a couple of places that sell each but I am in no way endorsing a supplier. I don’t care where you buy it. I just want to be clear what I’m pointing you to.

Poultry Range Feeder

This is, in my opinion, the greatest thing ever. Ever. 100 birds don’t quite eat 50 pounds of feed in a day but it’s near enough when you have to lug the bag. Instead, we just drive the truck out to the birds, dump in enough feed to last until the next move and drive off on our merry way. The feed stays dry in the rain and we have had no trouble with bridging. The unit has proven durable. My only complaint is the ring in the feeder keeps falling out. Maybe I didn’t make it tight enough. Maybe I made it too tight.


Field Drinker

This is, in my opinion, the greatest thing ever. Ever. We ran a nipple on a garden hose hanging from a t-post for years and it worked great. I stand by that recipe. Put the t-post through a pallet to help prevent the pigs from making a wallow. But if the hose breaks when you run over it with a mower (blush) the pigs are out of water. There is no reserve. Also, the water is not cool when it gets to the nipple on a warm, sunny day. You could put a nipple on a hose connected to a tank but the better solution, I think, is to have a large, heavy tank of water the pigs can drink directly out of. Because they can’t force it to leak like a nipple they have a hard time making a wallow. There are rubber plugs in the tank and in each side of the drinker you can remove to drain and/or clean the unit and that’s important because the pigs always make a mess of things. The only problem I have had with the drinker is when the pigs get above 200 pounds they are strong enough to tip it over. The solution appears to keep the unit full. You could put a float valve in the unit with a hose sticking through the top. There are also two places for heaters if you need to keep it thawed in the winter.


Pig Feeder

This is, in my opinion, the greatest thing ever. Ever. OK. That joke is getting tired. Really, the pig feeder isn’t that big of a deal but it is nice to be able to walk away from the pigs for a couple of days. Besides, pigs eventually grow to a point where you no longer want to climb into their pen twice/day. Problem solved. We don’t have to go in at all anymore. We just flip the lid and fill it up. It holds enough feed to last eight 50# pigs two weeks or eight 300# pigs one day. However, this specific model doesn’t hold up well to the kind of abuse a 300 pound pig can dish out. I prefer to use this unit to grow out as many as four pigs. More than that and, really, I would want a larger unit…capacity, durability and weight.


Chickens on Wheels

ChickenHouseYou can’t buy these in stores but I just love our new chicken house design. It is, in my opinion, the greatest thing ever. Ever. If I were to change anything I would make it longer to measure 8×16 and build 20 of them. That’s narrow enough to fit our gates but the added length would accommodate another 50 birds. We insulated the roof and the structure stayed cool. There is more than enough ventilation. The ceiling is high enough to make clean-out a breeze. We could close up the vents and plug in some heat lamps to make this into a portable brooder. In fact, future generations of broilers may live out their entire lives in and out of this structure. One feature we really like is having the nest boxes mounted outside so we can gather eggs easily but I think we’ll relocate them to the high side of the roof next time.

Nest Boxes

Nest Box
We used homemade wooden nest boxes for years and I felt a bit foolish when I splurged on metal ones. Forget the wood. I strongly suggest you go ahead and splurge on a good array of metal nest boxes….greatest…thing…ever. I prefer plastic bottoms over galvanized. I’m surprised to admit that I prefer the plastic roost bars over the wood but we have broken several wooden roosts…as evidenced in the patch my kids used for the picture above. The plastic ones are a bit wider and just droop a little.

Well, there you go. Four product reviews and one thing I just bragged about. I hope that helps. Please comment if you have any questions or if you want to share what you believe is the greatest thing ever. Ever.

6 thoughts on “5 Things I Won’t Farm Without

  1. We should all have such lists. I am fascinated that you chose tools to help you feed, water and collect eggs. My list would be the same, except on a smaller scale.

    Is the nest box you sugget the same one that is on the chickens on wheels trailer?

    • I need help Steve. I need help getting food and water out there because Julie has other stuff to do.

      The nest boxes are the best thing since a pocket on a shirt. There were always favored wooden nest boxes…small differences that made the chickens prefer one over the others. 20 eggs in one box means broken eggs. The metal boxes help spread the load as they are all basically the same.

      Scale is an ongoing topic of discussion. Our marketing reach is growing so we need to scale up. We currently attempt to retain production ratios…something like 2 pigs, 10 layers and 100 broilers per cow. We may ultimately adjust that to a per-acre basis but we have a long way to go. Marketing is the real limitation.

    • Cool. We have plans to build a second one this year. Maybe I can push that schedule up enough to be of some help to you.

      Really, it’s two 4×6 rails with a deck built on top. We put in a solid, treated plywood floor. Then I built a 4′ wall on one side and a 6′ wall on the other. The ends slant to meet the design. The roof is straightforward. By building it 8×12 we were efficient about using plywood. The plywood on the walls stretches down to attach to the deck frame for added stability. Then I put three roosts down one side and three down the other. The end door flips down and hinges on (get this) a rebar post. It is kind of a cabin on wheels.

  2. Great list. Thanks. I have yet to source that hog waterer up her in Canada (Kari, any ideas?), but I’m not giving up. I too think your eggmobile is pretty awesome – and insulating the roof was smart. I have a set of the metal nest boxes in my basement as we speak, waiting to be put together and installed in the yet to be repaired hen house, where the current wooden boxes are barely holding together, and where we have exactly the issue you describe – favourite boxes, and broken eggs. My brother switched to metal boxes a few years ago, and I’ve looked after his hens when he’s been away, and have to say, I was pretty sold on them from that experience – clean out, the fact that you can put the rail up at night, etc. I’ve seen that poultry feeder in other people’s pictures, and it looks pretty awesome. What is the ring you’re talking about, which doesn’t seem to show in the Farmtek or Stromberg pictures?

    • There is a lip insert that keeps the food from overflowing and being scratched or pecked onto the ground. I move the feeder every morning and the girls do a good job of cleaning up what falls out but still. The ring is something you cut to fit and is held in with friction. I either cut it too large or too small.

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