Black Soldier Fly Composter / Automatic Chicken Feeder

A simple 3D animation to show relative size and layout of the BSF Composter / Chicken Feeder

We have had much success harvesting Black Soldier Fly Larvae to feed our chickens, but we needed a new design. After much thought, this is the design that we have come up with. We designed this unit with these things in mind:

  • large for plenty of compost
  • portable so we can move it
  • auto-feeds our chickens
  • easy to build and replicate
  • made from common materials
  • This composter can turn everyday food and garden waste in to a nutritious food source for chickens and rich compost. We simply place the food scraps in the barrel and the Black Soldier Fly (or BSF) larvae does the rest. The larvae converts the scraps in to rich organic compost. Once the Larvae are mature, they crawl up the rain gutter and fall in to the chicken feeder. The chickens love the BSF and they get a healthy dose of calcium and protein. Once the composter is full of compost, take the barrel out and dump it and mix it in your compost pile as it is ready to be used. This device reduces household waste and provides a free dietary supplement for your chickens. The BSF larvae that are not eaten eventually transform in to adult BSF, lay eggs, and you really don’t see them much at all. The pheromones produced from the BSF repel the common house flies. There is not much odor that is produced from this process, similar to a conventional compost pile but the process is much faster.

    Here is the completed project. Our 8 hens can eat at the same time with this unit. The portability makes it easy to go between the chicken coup and the compost pile. Click image to enlarge.

    Materials:

    • (3) 2″x4″x8′ Treated Lumber
    • (1) 55 Gallon Food Grade Barrel
    • (2 Linear Feet) 3/4″ PVC
    • (5 Linear Feet) Rain Gutter
    • (1 pair) Rain Gutter Ends
    • (4) 3″ Swivel Caster Wheels
    • (1) box Deck Screws and appropriate bit

    Tools:

    • Cordless 3/8″ Drill or more
    • Circular Saw
    • Variable Speed Jig Saw
    • 1″ Drill Bit
    • Marking Utensil (sharpie, crayon, pencil, etc.)
    • Measuring Tape
    • (2) Saw Horses
    • Safety Glasses

    Instructional Video:

    When:  April 23rd, 2011
    Where: The Garden Pool in Mesa, AZ
    Who: Dennis with GardenPool.org
    Length: 16 minutes

    Untitled from GardenPool on Vimeo.

    This was recorded live in a classroom setting. To be a part of our classes in person, join our meetup group.

    How it was made:

    Click Here for the 2×4 cutting guide.

    Begin by cutting the 2×4′s. There is a cutting guide on the left to help you make the cuts with your circular saw and saw horses. As you can see, there is only 5% wood scrap in this project.
    Begin assembling the barrel base. Use two 19″ pieces and two 36″ pieces to assemble as shown below.

    Next, add a pair of 6″ legs on one side and a pair of 12″ legs on the other as shown below.Next, add support for the legs by using a 19.5″ piece in the front and back as shown below.Next, connect the two legs with two 42″ pieces as shown below.Add the 4 swivel caster wheels to make the base mobile as shown below.Next, we need to add the front guard. Use the 4″ piece of wood next as shown below.Next, attach the 21″ 3/4″ PVC pipe to the base as shown in the picture below.Next, add the 21″ rain gutter with caps to the top of the front of the base. Do not secure until you loose fit with the barrel in place. The barrel should be all the way forward. Once you know where the barrel will rest, secure the rain gutter as shown below.Now it is time to prepare the barrel. Drill a 1″ hole in to the barrel as shown below.Next, carefully cut out a smile with a jig saw in the barrel as shown below.Next, clean the barrel and place on top of your base as shown below.Finally, add the 39″ piece of rain gutter in the barrel, all the way against the back. The rain gutter should stick out just enough so that the BSF would fall from the top rain gutter to the bottom rain gutter as they crawl. The finished picture is below.

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