How to Build a Chicken Salad Bar
by Lisa Steele
Build this easy DIY chicken salad bar in your run to give your flock fresh greens even when they can't free range.
I had been planning to build a covered garden-type area in the run for my chickens for awhile. I wanted somewhere that I could safely grow grasses and other seeds for them to munch on when greens are scarce, but would allow the seeds to sprout and grow without being bothered by the hens' incessant scratching.
Enter the Chicken Salad Bar!
I have been savings odds and ends from other projects for awhile to use and also found some boards out behind our barn that I salvaged for the project, so I ended up not having to buy anything!
The instructions below are written using what I had on hand, but you can certainly adapt the project to use what you have handy. I also wanted to keep it fairly small so the top wouldn't sag when my hens stood on it, which you KNOW they will do! But feel free to size it to your liking.
What you Need:
Two 3' boards and two 2' boards (I think the ones I used were 1x6s)
8 long deck screws
10' furring strip cut into two 3' long lengths and two 2' long lengths
3' x 2'-2" piece of 1/2" hardware cloth
Four flat brackets
Set of small hinges
Packet of seed
What you Do:
Measure and cut your boards as noted above. Using the deck screws, form the four 1x6 boards into a square.
Position the box where you want it, preferably in full sun in the run. At this point, the Quality Control team will probably want to inspect your handiwork.
Staple the hardware cloth to the furring strips. If you staple at a diagonal on the 'X's of the cloth, it won't slip.
Then screw in the flat brackets at the corners for additional support.
Attach the hinges, one near each corner of your lid. And then screw the other part to the back of the box.
Drill holes in the center front of the box and lid and attach the eye hook.
Planting your Chicken Salad Bar:
Add an inch or two of nice topsoil. At this point, Quality Control is definitely going to have to take another look! Kick all the chickens out of the box (!) and sprinkle your seed mix into the dirt, then cover it up with a bit more topsoil.
Water your salad bar well. Keep watering as needed and in a few weeks, you should have a yummy and nutritious offering of greens for your chickens! After just a few days, you should see sprouts! And in about a week or a week and a half, your salad bar should be coming along nicely.
When the "Salad" has passed the height of the hardware cloth, the salad bar will be open and you'll have very happy girls!
You can plant grasses and let them grow right through the top and just let the chickens nibble the tops, or grow lettuce, greens or herbs inside, then open the top and let the chickens eat them.
Then replant and close the cover to repeat the process again.