This is a common problem and believe me I’ve tried everything from aviary netting to automatic feeders to alleviate the problem. Netting is helpful to keep doves and pigeons out, but where there is a gate for you, there is an entry somewhere for them. Sparrows fit through the tiniest hole, and although it doesn’t seem like they would eat much, in a flock of 100 or more there can be a substantial feed loss.
It would be nice if we all had a huge wire chicken enclosure with a real door, but many of us don’t. We may take pride in our make-shift creations, but for all intentional purposes they aren’t always as functional as hoped. A small flock of backyard laying hens are not going to make us a profit, but we do expect them to at least earn their keep.
For the last few years I’ve free fed my chickens, and the all the neighborhood sparrows and doves. But now there is a much bigger problem, pigeons. A few here and there has suddenly turned into a flock of thirty. This is a time for drastic measures before the city steps in and takes action. It’s never a good idea having city officials snooping around an in- town hobby farm, so there’s only one solution. No more free feeding.
It’s been a month now, I keep the chicken’s ground feeders covered with a trash container except for two hours in the morning and evening. I do however offer them greens and whatever kitchen scraps there is on hand during the day. After two weeks the pigeon population dropped by half, after a month there are only three diehards left.
Egg production has not been interrupted, and the flocks, both free range and free-run look great. Success!