On Feeding Chickens

How do you determine if your day has been a success? The number of sales made? Reports written? Money earned? Today’s success was marked by my not killing Ryan.

You probably think I’m exaggerating or speaking metaphorically. I’m not. I’ll explain.

The layer house is nice because it has an automatic feeder. There is a big tank on the back of the house that dispenses feed as needed. With the old house we had to take bags of feed up every or every other day depending on how much they ate. With the new house we only have to fill the tank every other week. The problem is filling the tank.

20130912_0025There is a hatch on the top of the tank where you pour in the feed. The layer feed comes in 100 lb. bags so it isn’t as though we can carry it up the ladder and dump it in. No, we have to use the skid steer.

20130912_0031Skid steers are wonderful pieces of equipment. I’d say it is truly the only thing we couldn’t live without here at Wyebrook. The tractors are nice, but the skid steer is an absolute necessity. You can mow with it; move pallets, bags of feed, or bales of hay; spread straw; plow snow; drill fence posts; and all sorts of other things.

The bucket


Hay fork

Hay fork



For all it’s purpose and value, I hate operating it. I can and do, but not very smoothly. You see, a skid steer is controlled by joysticks, much like a video game controller. If you’ve ever seen me play Mariokart or Halo, you know that video games are not my thing.

The joysticks

The joysticks

The left joystick controls the skids, making the machine go forward or backward, left or right. The right joystick controls the booms (arms) and whatever apparatus is attached (bucket, mower, hay forks, etc.). You can lift things up and down, as well as tilting the attachment (so you can scoop and dump).

We fill the layer house by taking a pallet of feed (6-8 bags) out to the house using the skid steer. One person operates the skid steer to lift the pallet and other person up to the top of the feed tank (about 15 feet up) so he can dump in the bags of feed. I have done this twice with Ryan or Steve operating the skid steer and me on the pallet. The problem with that system is that I cannot life the 100 lb. bags so we have to put all the feed into a trash can first so I can scoop it into the tank. Steve was out mowing so Ryan and I were taking care of filling it up and he decided I could operate the skid steer while he dumped the bags.

I told him it wasn’t a good idea, but evidently he trusts me more than I trust myself. The whole thing is trickier than it sounds. Your pallet may be sitting flat on the ground, but as you lift the booms it will become tilted so you have to lift and adjust the levelness of the pallet all at the same time. We did this very, VERY slowly. I had visions of one jerky movement sending him crashing to the ground with 800 lbs. of feed landing on top of him.

It's hard to tell from this awful picture, but that's Ryan on top of the pallet filling up the feed tank

It’s hard to tell from this awful picture, but that’s Ryan on top of the pallet filling up the feed tank.

Like I said. I didn’t kill Ryan. Today was a success.

2 thoughts on “On Feeding Chickens

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