This article was updated on 23.06.2023: We’ve added a video.
So, you have a farm (or a few animals, at least), and now you’ve got a 3D printer. We‘ll just assume that the day has 48 hours, and you have time for both activities. And you know what? Let’s use the printer to make your farming business easier. As always, some people from this field already print something useful and impressive. We took some time to think about it and made a list of useful stuff you might want to print for your animal friends. We handpicked the most interesting ideas from the community and added some of our own.
Everything for chickens
Let’s start with tweaking your chicken coop. After all, you don’t need to be a farmer to have a small chicken coop with several hens so there are lots of people who might find it helpful.
When you get your own chicken coop, it brings you instant happiness. The first egg appears there; it’s pure joy. Then another, and you feel that it was the best idea ever to buy chicken. You don’t even mind getting up early to let your bird buddies out. But as time goes on, the joy of having fresh eggs gets weaker as it becomes annoying to get up early every morning. Luckily, there’s a simple hack for this particular problem – an automatic coop door. However, let’s assume that you don’t want to play with Arduino or buy expensive Electronics and want to simply print something mechanical. And we have a solution for that! Semi-automatic pedal-controlled Chicken coop door! We call it Kürnikotvör *. The principle is quite simple. There’s a pedal with a latch that holds the door closed. Once the first hen wakes up in the morning and decides to go out, she steps on the pedal and releases the door with a counterweight mechanism. You just have to come in the evening to close the door – that’s 50% less work for any chicken doorkeeper. You don’t need many materials for this project, only several screws, plexiglass, and some 3D-printed parts.
*In Czech, Kurník = chicken coop, Otvor = opening. It was supposed to be an IKEA joke as they name the things in simple ways yet sound funny. Never mind…
Now, is it all you can print for chicken? Not really. There are lots of poultry prints online that you can use. But most of it is not as sexy as the Kurnikotvör (still not funny?). That’s why we made this chicken collection with everything well described. Feel free to use everything you find there.
Oh, and one more thing: don’t forget that your funny, harmless chicken buddies have some relation to the theropods once roaming the earth’s surface. Don’t you believe us? Try to print these claws for them – but we don’t take any responsibility for damage caused by chicken-theropod claws. With these, they shall rule the earth and spread fear and doom!
Models by Khelian and kaje from Printables
If you’re scared by the chicken with claws, the cute little bees may calm you down. Well, unless you‘re thinking about the Asian giant hornets right now, those things are scary as hell! But don’t worry, those are not bees after all, and they won’t hurt you unless you tease them. Or will they? [evil laughter in the background] Anyway, there are some cool useful 3D-printed tools for beekeepers to make their life easier.
Most of the models available online are various simple bee feeders – and why not? It’s easy to print and super useful. Some of those can be inserted inside the beehive, some are external, some can be attached to the bottle, and others to the jar. There’s not much to it, simply print it and use it. You can find our favorite picks in our bee collection.
Bee feeders by NicG and DavidP from Printables
But sometimes you may find something for a more specific use – for example, a Queen Bee catcher, Asian hornet trap, various beehive entrances, etc. Again, it’s hard to cover it all, so we made a collection.
Models by cimbi, Jeff K, MAPBuH and Stipao from Printables
Beehive entrances at our company. You can find more info about PrusaHive project on the website of our PrusaLab makerspace.
Here we don’t have any scary facts – mammals are just cute. Or aren’t they? Okay, one more useless fact, and we’ll stop: There are 22 deaths per year caused by cows in the USA on average, so don’t tease them, or they’ll wait for you behind the dumpster in a dark alley. This means that cows are much more dangerous than sharks, which are responsible for approx. 10 deaths per year worldwide on average.
If anything should happen to you and the cattle would be to blame, we may get your back in this. There are various projects for smart GPS trackers, some with 3D-printed parts! Sure, the electronics might not be as cheap and straightforward as the fence, but you can tell right away if the horse, cow, or sheep is the one who went too far. Also, you might print various colored distinguishers to see which critter belongs to you when they mix up…
If your animals keep on running away or simply cannot be left roaming freely, you might eventually start making a fence. This is also something a 3D printer may help you with. You can print various wire holders, hooks, etc. We suggest using a UV-resistant material, such as Prusament ASA, for the best performance.
Insulators by Kiwi Tinkerer from Printables
But you can also make the livestock feel more comfortable at your place so they won’t run away. We suggest getting them a nice whirlpool, sauna, or massage, or at least printing a nice butt scratcher for them. Who knows? Maybe the cows are just grumpy from not being able to scratch their butts. You may disagree about whether it’s good for 3D printing since there are various scratchers that can be bought online, but these are usually not custom. Let’s say you have a tiny pig, goat, or small alligator and want a small but hard scratcher for them. You don’t want to buy a large cow scratcher, and you don’t want to use a broom scratcher, either. So why not print it? Simply pick a design from our collection and see how the animals like it. We recommend printing the scratchers with flexible filaments – these are usually very durable and will resist a great amount of force the animals can make.
Modular scratcher by FuzNuz horse equipment
Then, there are much more models, often for horses, but those can also be used for other animals. We’ve asked the FuzNuz horse equipment user to upload some of his cool models to printables so you may browse his collection. Some of these things look really useful and animal stress-relieving – such as this Bot Fly scraper.
Some of the useful models by FuzNuz
Nicholas Radzykewycz (FuzNuz) got our attention through his use of 3D printer for making veterinary prosthetics for horses. We would love to support this great example of useful 3D printing. And FuzNuz is not the only one; many skillful makers worldwide make animals’ life better through 3D printing. There is, for example, Horses First from Finland, r3volutiond from Germany and Driftdog from Italy. You may check them for inspiration about veterinary 3D printing. And if you want to go deeper into the topic, you may also join the VVCA group, where virtual care and televeterinary medicine are discussed under the supervision of skilled veterinarians. Also, we suggest visiting embodi3d to learn more about it. But now, let’s get back to general aid for farm animals.
Every farm needs to deal with rodents in some way. Usually, the pests are poisoned or killed by various traps. Kill traps are generally very cheap and simple and 3D printing simply cannot compete there. But there may be some specific cases where you need to catch the mouse alive – or you may feel with the animals and do all you can to move them to nature. For this, there are various live traps that can be easily 3D-printed. But you should know that a mouse caught in a live trap gets very stressed and may die very soon anyway. Or escape from the plastic trap and seek vengeance. If you want to keep the rodent alive, you need to check the traps quite often.
Mouse trap by Matthew Ray from Printables
Support wild animals
Is that all? Not really. There are tons of models usable for making your (and animals’) life easier but it is simply beyond the purpose of this article. However, we have one last tip for you, and this time we’re bloody serious: Help the surrounding environment. Animals and plants living around your household/farm may help you and your animals live a healthier life. For example, supporting birds and bats by making bird- and bat houses helps reduce the number of insects. Did you know, for example, that solely in the USA, bats annually save approx. 23 billion USD spent on pesticides by eating insects? Also, you can support local birds of prey by printing perches and placing them around your fields with crops. If placed properly, this will give the birds a good overview of the field as well as a good resting place. You’ll see that the rodent populations damaging your crops will soon start to decline.
Various houses, feeders and perches for wild animals can be found at Printables.
So, looking back, there’s quite a lot you can do for your and animals’ welfare with 3D printing, don’t you think? We hope you like it as we do. We can’t wait to see more 3D-printed high-tech livestock farms!
As always, happy printing!