Novice chicken keepers may think of a chicken feeder as no more than a bowl or container that holds food. Unfortunately, this is not true at all. Selecting the right feeder for your flock can save you a lot of money. It is also one of the most important decisions you can make for your flock. To help you out, we have gathered some important information to make your choice easier.
What Is A Chicken Feeder?
Chicken feeders are essential equipment designed to hold your chickens’ feed and prevent waste. Sounds simple right? But it’s not quite that easy. One of the most challenging aspects of designing a chicken feeder is to prevent over-enthusiastic chooks from knocking it over.
Chickens often explore the world by using the tips of their nails. This means that they scratch a lot and in the process knocks over all manner of objects. They will also peck objects out of curiosity and toss them around if they can, this includes the feeder.
Chicken feeders need to be designed in such a way that it will be both easy for the chooks to get to the food but also prevent them from being tipped over and creating all kinds of chaos in the process.
Making Your Own Chicken Feeder
Some chicken keepers love DIY projects, if that sounds like you, don’t be afraid to get a bit creative with your chicken feeders. You can create feeders from all sorts of things like mason jars, ice cream tubs and milk bottles, your imagination is literally your limit.
The real challenge is to ensure that your chickens cannot tip it over, defecate in it and to prevent overexposure to the elements. This balancing act can be quite tricky so do buy a proper chicken feeder to study and test on your chickens before developing your own.
How Many Chicken Feeders are Enough?
Unlike chicken waterers, there is no clear formula to figure out how many chicken feeders you will need. Some expert keepers suggest that 5cm of feeder space per chicken over the age of 6 weeks is enough.
Others suggest that you should get multiple feeders to prevent overcrowding and fighting. Having more than one feeder will also ensure that your shy submissive hens also get fed. The best is to observe your flock. If there’s too much competition, then it is time to get more feeders.
Different Types Of Chicken Feeders
There are a few different designs when it comes to chicken feeders. All feeders have the same goal to feed your chickens with minimal waste, but they achieve this in many different ways.
The suspended chicken feeder is one of the most popular chicken feeders among chicken keepers. This type of feeder is usually suspended from the roof of the coop and hangs at about the height of the chicken’s neck.
This prevents the chooks from scratching and pulling at the base of the feeder. They can still easily reach into peck at the delicious morsels inside with ease. It is usually better to pick the rubber or plastic trays since metal and aluminium feeders tend to rust.
Treadle feeders are heavy feeding boxes with a platform mechanism for chickens to stand on. The platform mechanism lifts the lid off of the feeder box to give the chicken on the platform access to the food.
This feeder was invented to keep bigs, mice and rats out of the food, keep the food fresh and protected from elements like rain. There is some learning involved at first, but your chickens will soon enough figure out how to get to the delicious food inside. While they learn how this mechanism works, make sure that they eat enough food to stay healthy.
Dine-A-Chook chicken feeders are manufactured in Australia from new PVC and looks like a tubular chicken feeder. It was originally made from simple PVC piping but has now evolved into a highly refined product with different settings for the different feed types and a “anti-waste” grill which stops chickens from flicking less desirable food from the chicken feeder.
Where To Place Your chicken feeder
It is definitely best to keep your chicken feeder in an enclosed space out of the rain. Doing this will save you a lot of money if you don’t have to throw away hands full of soiled, soaked grain. One of the best places to keep your chicken feeder is inside the coop. This way the feeder is protected from the elements and easily accessible to your chickens. It will also encourage them to return to the coop at feeding time which makes closing them up for the night much easier. Chicken feeders inside the coop work best if you have a big coop with lots of space.
These are the basics you need to know about chicken feeders to make an educated choice. Also, keep all of these in mind when you start your DIY project. A lot of thought has gone into most feeders to ensure as little as possible food goes to waste. Good quality feeders will save you money in the long run.