We talked about what to feed chickens a few months ago (see newsletters “What to feed chickens?” part 1 and part 2). Today we are going to discuss how to feed them. There is a great variety of feeders to choose from. Some focus on preventing food waste, some keep rodents out, and others are age specific (baby chick vs. adult chicken). Let’s explore some of the most common ones for adult birds.
1) Basic feeder: It’s the most common feeder. It’s simple, inexpensive, and easy to clean. The plastic version is cheaper and easier to clean, whereas the galvanized steel one looks a bit nicer. Most models have an optional cover that keeps the feed dry, and prevents the chickens from perching on the feeder and pooping in their food! It usually has a handle or a hook to hang it. We use the basic plastic feeder with a cover in our coop, and keep it off the ground with a few bricks. 2) Trough: It’s another simple feeder that is quite inexpensive. It holds a smaller amount of feed. Some models have a wire top option that prevents the chickens to scatter their food all over the place. You need to attach it securely though, if not it will easily tip over. 3) Treadle feeder: With this feeder, the chicken has to step on a platform to open the cover and access the food. It’s a bit pricey and the chickens need some training to learn how to use it. But it saves feed (thus money) if you have lots of rodents and wild birds thinking that the chicken feeder is an all-you-can-eat-buffet :) We use the treadle feeder in our guest coop that is not rodent proof, and all our guest chickens figured it out pretty quickly. Watch the video in the "Did you know?" section below. 4) PVC feeder: It’s a vertical PVC tube with a curved opening at the end. It’s a nice DIY project than doesn’t require lots of materials nor time. Search “PVC chicken feeder” and find many howtos. Since only one bird can eat at a time, several are required. 5) PECk-O-MATIC: It’s another DIY project. It’s a demand feeder kit that you attach to a bucket, and it will drop food on demand in a little cup. It prevents food waste and work with crumbles (not pellets). Similarly to the previous feeder, several are needed so more than one bird can eat in parallel. The size and numbers of feeders depends on the size of your flock. We use an 11lb basic feeder for our 6 chickens. When filled to its maximum, the feed lasts a bit more than a week even when they are at their hungriest. For a bigger flock, add more feeders and not a bigger one. One feeder for every 7-8 chickens is a good ratio. Also don’t store more than one week food in feeder as it increases the risk of mold and that may be deadly for your chickens (see did-you-know card on mycotoxins). Whatever feeder you choose, make sure you keep visiting your chickens every day :)