The Best Chicken Feeder for Backyards
Automatic chicken feeders are a great solution, particularly if you're time-poor. They can also save you hundreds of dollars in reduced feed waste and deter rodents. But not all chicken self-feeders are equal in quality.
How do you choose a chicken feeder with so many brands and options on the market that's not going to get clogged or end up in the bin this time next year? Hence sometimes, our question, "what's the best chicken feeder near me?"
Let's discuss some factors first.
The style and type you choose will depend on:
- What type of feed are you feeding your chickens – pellets, grain, or wet grain mash?
- Your chicken house and yard layout – where will the feeder go, inside or outside the coop?
- Is your area wild bird proof? If not, a treadle feeder is your best option.
When it comes to feeders, there are four popular choices:
- Plastic or stainless steel bell-shaped feeders (usually suspended from the roof)
- PVC Tube Feeders
- An only tub or humble ice cream container
- Automatic feeders, aka treadle feeders.
Let's go through the pros and cons of each.
PLASTIC BELL STYLE FEEDERS
Designed for undercover use and should be hung from the roof to deter rodents. The height of the feed should equal the height of your smallest chicken's back.
Pros – work well for pellet feeds, inexpensive.
Cons - if you are feeding a grain mix, your chickens will 'cherry-pick' their favorite grains and flick what they don't want on the ground. This can then become a haven for rodents. The design is not suitable for wet feeds.
PVC TUBE FEEDERS
Pros – minimal waste, slim design works well in small spaces. There are some great designs on Youtube. In my experience, there's an art to getting homemade PVC tube feeders to flow also not allow your hens to flick grain everywhere. Check out Dine a Chook or Royal Rooster.
Cons - if the feed outlet gets wet, the feed will clog and get stuck.
SIMPLE TUB, OLD SAUCEPAN OR HUMBLE ICE CREAM CONTAINER
Pros – a good option for younger birds or feeding wet foods.
Cons – While not automatic as such, there's nothing wrong with feeding on simple containers if the set up is weather and rodent proof, but it will be a matter of minutes before bored chickens try to get into the container and scratch their feed all over the ground! So only fill as much as they need and replace daily.
AUTOMATIC CHICKEN FEEDER, AKA CHICKEN SELF-FEEDER OR CHICKEN TREADLE FEEDER
Treadle feeders are fantastic but vary A LOT in quality and design. Treadle feeders are an investment but pay for themselves in reduced feed wastage. Until the chicken steps onto the treadle step, the food is safe and covered.
Pros – minimal waste, depending on the design. They are massive time-savers, providing you don't get a dud quality version! Look for a treadle feeder with a grill over the grain section or calibrated design that prevents chickens from flicking grain everywhere.
Cons – expensive. Expect to pay around $195-$250. Beware of some imported models priced around the $100-200 mark. Price does not equal quality for treadle feeders, unfortunately.
Here are some of the issues I've personally experienced with inferior models:
1. Not all designs are weatherproof
2. Some (expensive) models allow for the feed to pour out everywhere as they are not calibrated
3. They won't close 100%
4. One tall model used to blow over in the wind, even with feed in it
5. The step on some brands can become stuck and jam up if not on a flat surface.
Yes, I've wasted much money on automatic feeders that don't perform, don't make the same mistakes! Now let's answer the question, "what's the best chicken feeder near me?"
THE BEST AUTOMATIC CHICKEN FEEDERS IN AUSTRALIA
If you are considering an automatic feeder, the two brands I trust and recommend are (I'm not affiliated with either brand):
Chicken Feeder - Made locally and packaged sustainably by Pete & Kerrie Kruger of Meredith in rural Victoria. I love this feeder so much. Pete has perfected the design over the past 15 years or so. It features a sloping lid (to stop your birds perching on it!), a metal grid to stop birds flicking grain out, and a creative calibrated internal design to reduce waste. It's exceptionally well designed and handcrafted. With a 100% satisfaction guarantee, it's well worth the investment.
Grandpa's Feeders is also a great design. It does have a flat top, but it comes with a 24 month, 100% satisfaction, money-back guarantee. I love the metal grid that stops the birds from flicking their feed out; this is an important detail.
How to use automatic feeders successfully
Position your treadle feeder up on a large concrete paver (or two) in a spot that is protected from rain for best results. If your chickens are underlying age or are bantams, be aware that a treadle feeder will need to be calibrated to allow their weight actually to open it for access to the feed.
Training your chickens to use an automatic feeder
It usually takes seven days to train your chickens to use a treadle feeder. To do this, you'll need to allow the tray to remain open while your chooks become familiar with the feeder, around 7-10 days. Once one gets the hang of it, the rest will follow.
When feeding kitchen scraps, throw them into the outdoor run and let your chickens pick through them as they please. If you find that this attracts rodents, offer your scraps in an old heavy saucepan or frying pan, take away what they don't eat, and compost it.
I hope this article has been helpful and answered the question "what's the best chicken feeder near me?". Know another Australian made, quality chicken feeder? Want to know more about chickens? Check out our blog here.
Also, feel free to drop me a line - firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.