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. With so many brands and options on the market, how do you choose a chicken feeder that's not going to get clogged or end up in the bin this time next year? 

The style and type you choose will depend on:

1. What type of feed you are feeding your chickens – pellets, grain or wet grain mash?

2. Your chicken house and yard layout – where will the feeder go, inside or outside the coop?

3. 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:

1. Plastic or stainless steel bell-shaped feeders (usually suspended from the roof)

2. PVC Tube Feeders

3. A simply tub or humble ice cream container

4. Automatic feeders, aka treadle feeders.

 

Let's go through the pros and cons for each. 

PLASTIC BELL STYLE FEEDERS

Designed for undercover use and should be hung from the roof to deter rodents. 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 favourite 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 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 for feeding wet foods.

Cons – While not automatic as such, there's nothing wrong with feeding from 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 a chicken steps onto the treadle step, the food is safe and covered. 

Pros – minimal waste, depending on the design. They are huge time-savers, providing you don't get a dud quality version! Look for a treadle feeder that has a grill over the grain section or calibrated design that prevents chickens 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 a lot of money on automatic feeders that don't perform, don't make the same mistakes!

 

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):

http://chickenfeeder.com.au/ - 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 you birds perching on it!), a metal grid to stop birds flicking grain out, and clever calibrated internal design to reduce waste. It's exceptionally well designed and hand crafted. With a  100% satisfaction guarantee, it's well worth the investment. 
The https://www.grandpasfeeders.com/ 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 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 under laying age or are bantams, be aware that a treadle feeder will need to be calibrated to allow their weight to actually open it for access to the feed.

Training your chickens to use an automatic feeder

It usually takes 7 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, simply throw them into the outdoor run and let your chickens pick through them as they please. If you find that this is attracting rodents, offer your scraps in an old heavy saucepan or frying pan and take away what they don't eat and compost it.

I hope this article has been helpful. Know another Australian made, quality chicken feeder? Drop me a line - elise@chickencoach.com or comment below.

1 comment

  • Hi Elise,

    Thanks for the positive comments re our feeder, we really appreciate that.

    We must catch up and chat chooks one day.

    Have a great weekend

    Kerrie
    The Chicken Feeder and ourlifeourway.com.au

    Kerrie

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