Suggestions for Minimizing Chicken Feed Waste

Solutions for the Coop and Outdoor Feeders

Got chickens wasting their feed by scratching it out of the feeder? Not only is this costing  you money, but it’s also attracting rodents and wild birds.  This problem can be easily solved by hanging the feeder and placing something beneath it to catch what they scratch out. Simply pour the dropped feed back into the feeder when tending to your birds.

Saving Feed

Raise the coop feeder high enough to where the chickens have to climb up on something to reach it, this will eliminate shavings from getting in both the feeder and the container below.

The Outdoor Feeder

Keeping the feed in the feeder is your best defense against attracting wild birds. At night when the chickens are cooped for the night, cover the feeder.  The less feed scattered around the feeder the better. Something under the feeder will keep lost feed contained. Wild birds will always be a problem, but lets not offer them a feast 24 hours a day!  I like to make it hard for wild birds to find any food at all when the flock is cooped or the feeder is covered. If food isn’t plentiful, wild birds will go elsewhere.

 

If your birds are free roaming during the day, it’s okay to keep their feeder covered, and just give them access to it two or three times a day for an hour.

Tip: If you have wild birds sneaking in the coop and devouring feed, replace any chicken wire with hardware cloth.  Or, offset another layer of chicken wire over the existing. Sparrows can easily squeeze through chicken wire.

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Trying theTreadle Feeder, Week 1

Local Built Chicken Feeder Fights the Battle of Feed Waste.

Sunday 5 pm

Finally an answer to my fight against the wild birds eating my chicken feed. I found what I think is called a Treadle feeder, a clever invention that only allows my chickens access to food when they step on a levered platform. The weight of the bird opens the lid allowing them to feast, and when they step off it closes.  Awesome! Except so far, mine won’t even go near it, let alone stand on it.

I called the manufacture of the feeder and was told they’ve sold over a hundred so far and nobody has yet to have a flock not use it, until mine of course.  The nice people who are building these feeders are from Cavecreek, Arizona, and are successfully selling them in a number of feed stores here in the Valley. I explained that it had been two days since I introduced the feeder to my birds and they still considered it a boogie man.

I felt bad watching them stare at it, and even worse knowing they were hungry, so I opened the box myself a few times to let them eat. That was a mistake, one that only prolonged the transition to the feeder.  Showing them how to use it seemed rather silly anyway, and useless I might add.  So, if there is such a thing as chicken training 101, I flunked.

The company was helpful and offered a few pointers that left me feeling assured that within a day and a half my birds would be eating out of the feeder. I did as told, offering them absolutely nothing to eat other than what was in the scary wooden box. Well, a day and a half passed, and my hens still hadn’t figured out the mechanics of a meal. I began to panic.

Thursday 7 am

The survival mode finally kicks in, and this little lady pictured below is Lady Madonna, the hero of the day.  She’s a 4.5 lb. polish hen, and the hero who jumped on the platform and opened the door. It took about a second for all the other birds to realize she was having breakfast with the scary monster and nothing bad happened, so they all joined her. One by one they pushed and shoved their way on to the platform and feasted on the extra special goodies inside.

Lady Madonna isn’t very high in the flock’s chosen pecking order, second to dead last actually.  Maybe that’s why she’s so smart, nothing has ever come easy in her world. She’s been beat up twice and put in the chicken hospital once for a month long recovery.  Fat chance the others will ever accept her as one of them, especially with that goofy hat on her head. But a little respect for finding the vittles would be nice. Will she move up a notch in the pecking order?  Perhaps, too soon to tell.

Sunday, one week later.

It’s been a slow process, I’m still not completely satisfied they are all  using it on their own. I’m watching them closely, and still monitoring the feed consumption. I need another week to give this feeder my 100% seal of approval.

Update: Pitched the Treadle Feeder! My birds learned it was easier to kicked out ALL the feed onto the ground – very wasteful.

Wild Birds Eating Chicken Feed?

Update: Bought the Treadle Feeder and was NOT impressed. The chickens just scratched all the feed on the ground… wasting more than ever! 😦

Feeding free-run chickens and not the wild birds is a common problem. With the price of layer pellets near $18 for 50lbs, it’s become rather spendy just to feed my own birds. Pigeons, Doves and sparrows is where I draw the line.  Aviary netting over the top of my chicken yard has helped, but there’s always those spots that can’t be covered, like gates for instance.

So, if you want to know how to get rid of those pesty wild birds, here’s your answer…  you can’t.  However, you can indeed outsmart them! It may take a little effort on your part, but definitely not as much as flapping your arms and chasing those unwanted freeloaders away all day.

My best advice?

Stop free-feeding.
Get rid of the ample feed source and the birds will go elsewhere. I have a 12lb feeder in the center of my chicken yard, it is kept covered with a plastic trash can except for two hours in the morning and two hours in late afternoon. I throw food scraps or scratch anytime, since those goodies are consumed quickly.

Better yet… check this out, waaaaaay cool!

Treadle Feeder
This type of feeder is covered all the time, until a chicken stands on it. The weight of the chicken opens the lid automatically, then closes when the bird steps off. This video will give you a better idea of how it works.