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The Best Chicken Feeder - 8 feeders compared

  1. PatchtoTable
    Its all to common for people to give up on backyard chickens because of the problems and hassles that can come with it.

    But a lot of these problems come from how you feed your chickens and the feeder that you use. Chickens are messy eaters and they love to flick and spill their feed everywhere. This attracts pests like rats and wild birds which can cause a whole range of problems. Pests eat and contaminate your chicken feed, spread parasites and diseases and stress out your chickens - which can then cause a drop in egg production.

    What a pain!


    The right feeder can get rid of many of the problems that often come with chickens


    It doesn’t have to be this difficult. Because feeders are such an important part of keeping backyard chickens, I have put together a comparison of 7 commonly used feeders. I have compared them based on 8 key factors for easy and stress free chicken feeding:

    1. Setup effort: Effort to make (where required), install, setup and introduce to the chickens.
    2. Cost: Cost to purchase or make.
    3. Storage capacity: How much grain does the feeder store and how often does it need to be filled up.
    4. Chicken capacity: How many chickens can you have per feeder.
    5. Space efficient: How space efficient and attractive is the feeder.
    6. Mess and waste: How effective the feeder is at preventing chickens from flicking and spilling grain feed which causes mess and waste?
    7. Pest proof: How effective the feeder is at keeping pests away.
    8. Water proof: How well does the feeder keep water out of the grain.

    So whats the best feeder?


    In the table below I have given each feeder a score out of 5 for each of these factors and used it to calculate an overall score.

    1 = Very Poor
    2 = Poor
    3 = Average
    4 = Good
    5 = Excellent

    The best feeder for you will depend on your own situation, such as: priorities, number of chickens, location, climate, type of block and type of coop. Because of this, the feeder with the highest score will not necessarily be the feeder best suited to you. This comparison aims to make it easy to compare the feeders to make it easy to find the right chicken feeder for you.

    The feeders in the table below are ranked from highest to lowest score.

    RankType1. Setup effort2. Cost3. Storage capacity4. Chicken capacity5. Space efficientMess & wastePest proofWater proofTotal
    1
    PVC Pipe gravity feeder
    [​IMG]

    4442555433
    2Hand feeding5515533431
    3
    Bulk feeder with PVC inlets
    [​IMG]
    5454342330
    4
    Commercial plastic[​IMG]
    4443333226
    5
    Trough feeder
    [​IMG]


    4444521125
    6Bulk bin5554211124
    7
    Treadle feeder

    [​IMG]

    2143234423

    1. Pipe gravity feeder (PVC)


    Description


    This is a feeder made out of PVC pipe, with feed filled in the top and dispensed out the bottom. This feeder has an enclosed opening, which means the chickens have to put their head into the tube to get at the feed.

    ** DIY Instruction manual **


    Because I think this is a great feeder design (with some modifications), I have created a detailed instruction manual on how to make and use this feeder >> here <<

    [​IMG]




    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)

    Details

    Setup time and effort

    4

    Easy to make and quick to setup. Chickens may be hesitant at first to use the feeder (to reach inside the tube) but will be up and running very quickly with a few treats as encouragement.

    Cost

    4

    PVC tubing is cheap tube buy, which makes this feeder very cheap to make.

    Storage capacity

    4

    Holds enough feed to last 3-4 birds a couple of weeks. A longer pipe can also be used if more storage is needed.

    Chicken capacity

    2

    Can only feed one chicken at a time. Because of this it’s recommended that one feeder is used for up to 4 chickens.

    Attractive and space efficient

    5

    Slim and attractive design

    Mess and Waste

    5

    The enclosed design and front grain guard stop chickens from scratching and pecking out grain from the feeder - keeping grain in the feeder rather than on the ground.

    Pest Proof

    5

    Easily seal the feeder with an cap at night to keeps rats and other pests away.

    Water Proof

    4

    A rain guard keeps the feed dry and stops a lot of waste.

    2. Hand feeding


    Description

    Most simple way to feed your chickens – measure out the amount eat per day and scattering in backyard. Store feed in secure pest proof container


    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)

    Details

    Setup time and effort

    5

    No setup time is required. Can’t get easier than that.

    Cost

    5

    Free

    Storage capacity

    1

    The biggest downside with hand feeding is that it requires feed to be measured out and fed to the chickens each day. It could be a problem if you wanted to go away for a weekend or for longer holidays.

    Chicken capacity

    5

    This approach to feeding can easily be scaled based on the number of chickens you have. More chickens simply means more feed put out each day.

    Attractive and space efficient

    5

    No ugly feeder equipment needed. It takes up no space at all.

    Mess and Waste

    3

    The trick to hand feeding is to get the portions right. You don’t want your chickens to go hungry but you also don’t want any leftovers to have to clean up. The amount of feed needed also depends on if they free range, the amount of free range space and any other treats or supplements they get.

    Pest Proof

    3

    The key to keeping night time pests away (like rats and mice) is to get the portions right or to clean up any left overs at the end of each day. However hand feeding will attract pests during the day such as wild birds.

    Water Proof

    4

    Rain and moisture is not really an issue when hand feeding. If it rains, it will only affect a days worth of feed and will likely still be eaten by the chickens that day. This gets rid of any worry about the feed getting clogged in a feeder or going moldy.

    Other benefits


    Mirrors chickens natural foraging where they pick up grit and other goodies on the way

    Other cons:


    Egg production is maximised when chickens have plenty of access to feed. This balance is harder to get when hand feeding.

    3. Bulk Feeder with PVC inlets


    Description

    This is a DIY feeder which is essentially a bulk storage container with holes cut in the bottom for the chickens. To stop the feed spilling out of the holes, 90 degree PVC bends are inserted.

    [​IMG]



    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)

    Details

    Setup time and effort

    5

    Easy to make and quick to setup. Chickens may be hesitant at first to use the feeder (to reach inside the hole) but will be up and running very quickly with a few treats as encouragement.

    Cost

    4

    A container and PVC tubing is cheap to buy, which makes this feeder very cheap to make.

    Storage capacity

    5

    The great thing about this feeder is that it can have a large storage capacity. The size of the container can be adjusted to suit the number of chickens you have

    Chicken capacity

    4

    Because multiple holes / access points can be added to this feeder, multiple chickens can use it at once.

    Space efficient

    3

    The container can be bulky and takes up space. It also needs to be mounted onto a raised base or stand to give chickens access at the right height.

    Mess and Waste

    4

    This feeder is relatively good at reducing mess and waste. Chickens can not get their claws in the flick the feed, however can flick feed out with their beaks.

    Pest Proof

    2

    Based on current designs there is no way to keep rats and mice out of the feeder at night. It does protect against wild birds and other larger pests.

    Water Proof

    3

    While this design would keep light rain from getting into the feeder, it would not prevent heavy rain. With a large storage capacity, this could cause a lot of wasted feed. For this reason it should ideally be kept under cover.

    4. Commercial feeder


    Description

    These are commercially made feeders that you will find at most pet and produce stores. They can be made out of plastic or galvanized steel.

    Depth of the sides where the chickens eat can be changed using the screw at the top

    Acts as a dispenser and releases feed out bottom

    Can be hung to help keep out rodents and keep it clean – dirt and water free and deter birds from roosting on it.

    [​IMG]


    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)


    Details

    Setup time and effort

    4

    This is a purchased feeder and therefore does not take any time to make. There is a small amount of set up time which involves hanging the feeder to deter rodents.

    Cost

    4

    These feeders are cheap to purchase online

    Storage capacity

    4

    These feeders come in many sizes from small (1.5kg ) up to large (20 kg).

    Chicken capacity

    3

    Has room to feed multiple chickens at once

    Space efficient

    3

    Attractive and clean design however it does take up a bit of space when hung up correctly

    Mess and Waste

    3

    If used correctly this feeder does a reasonable job at preventing mess and waste. The dividers prevent scratching and beaking of the feed and by hanging the feeder up it cannot be knocked over.

    Pest Proof

    3

    Hanging up this feeder provides some deterrent to rats and mice however they are great climbers and in my experience they will still find their way into the feeder. It also provides no protection against wild birds and other pests.

    Water Proof

    2

    These feeder usually come with a top hat that provides minimal protection from rain. This feeder needs to be kept under cover when its raining.

    Other cons:

    If this feeder is not hung up, it can easily get knocked over, dirt kicked into it, pooped on and generally a lot of mess made.

    Links:

    ebay

    5. Trough feeder (PVC)


    [​IMG]



    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)


    Details

    Setup time and effort

    4

    Easy to make and quick to setup.

    Cost

    4

    PVC tubing is cheap tube buy, which makes this feeder very cheap to make.

    Storage capacity

    4

    Holds enough feed to last 3-4 birds a couple of weeks. A longer pipe can also be used if more storage is needed.

    Chicken capacity

    4

    The long trough design means that multiple chickens can feed at once without it getting over crowded. A slightly longer trough can be used to accommodate more chickens if needed

    Space efficient

    5

    The slim design means that it is space efficient.

    Mess and Waste

    2

    One of the down sides with the trough feeder is that it does not stop chickens from scratching and beaking out food. It is also an easy target for chicken poop. The slim design and high sides provides a small amount of protection from mess.

    Pest Proof

    1

    This feeder provides no protection against pests.

    Water Proof

    1

    This feeder must be kept undercover because it provides no protection against the rain. To make it worse, the pipe will clog up when it gets wet.

    Link

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Chicken-Coop-Gravity-PVC-Feeder/

    6. Bulk Bin


    Description

    Bucket / bin of any size


    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)


    Details

    Setup time and effort

    5

    No construction or assembly required. Buy a container, fill it with feed and your ready to go.

    Cost

    5

    Cheap to buy

    Storage capacity

    5

    The great thing about this feeder is that it can have a large storage capacity. The size of the container can be adjusted to suit the number of chickens you have

    Chicken capacity

    4

    The round bin shape provides easy access for multiple chickens

    Space efficient

    2

    The container can be bulky and takes up space. It might also need to be mounted onto a raised base or stand to give chickens access at the right height.

    Mess and Waste

    1

    Chickens will have the freedom to scratch and beak food around which can make a lot of mess. Smaller bins will easily be knocked over. You might also find that chickens will poop in the feeder.

    Pest Proof

    1

    Pests will have free range in this feeder. It will likely become a rat motel.

    Water Proof

    1

    This feeder will need to be kept under cover in the rain as it provides no rain protection. With a large storage capacity, this could cause a lot of wasted feed.


    Other Pro’s

    Useful as an extra feeder – for treats, scraps, supplements and sprouting grain.

    7. Treadle feeder


    Description

    Feeder with a lid that opens when the chickens step on a peddle.

    [​IMG]



    Factor

    Score
    (out of 5)

    Details

    Setup time and effort

    2

    This is a purchased feeder and therefore does not take any time to make. From my experience it can take a significant amount of time to get your chickens used to this feeder. Chickens are “Chicken” and they especially hate shiny things that move when they go near it. It tried this feeder and gave up trying to get my chickens to use it.

    Cost

    1

    These feeders tend to be very expensive.

    Storage capacity

    4

    These feeders have a reasonable storage capacity from 4kg up to 18kg

    Chicken capacity

    3

    These feeders can generally feed 1 to 2 chickens at a time and can accommodate a reasonable number of chickens.

    Space efficient

    2

    These feeders are bulky and can take up a significant amount of space.

    Mess and Waste

    3

    The better designed treadle feeders have a wire mesh covering the feed. This does a reasonable job reducing mess and waste

    Pest Proof

    4

    This feeder provides good protection against pests. Aside from any spilled feed, it generally keeps rodents and wild birds out.

    Water Proof

    4

    The better designed treadle feeders do a good job keeping water out.

    Links

    Grandpasfeeders

    Ebay

    Conclusion

    As mentioned at the start of the article, the best feeder for you will depend on your own situation and preferences. The scoring approach I used assumes all factors are equally important - which is far from true in reality. Because of this, the feeder with the highest score will not necessarily be the feeder best suited to you.

    The feeder with the highest score was the PVC Pipe gravity feeder. The main down side with this feeder is that it only accommodates about 4 chickens. More information about this feeder and detailed DIY Instructions are available here.

    If you are after the cheapest option, that you can use immediately, then daily hand feeding might be a viable option. The down side is that it can be hard to get quantities right and you will have to get into a routine of putting feed out every day.

    If you are after a feeder suitable for a large number of chickens and that doesn't need filling very often, then the Bulk feeder with PVC could be a good option for you.

    I hope this helps you find the best chicken feeder to suit you.

    Marcus
    Patch To Table

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Comments

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  1. PatchtoTable
    Thanks for the feedback pelicanchook
  2. pelicanchook
    I love the pipe gravity feeder - my first ever effort at DIY and I'm very proud of the result. Wonderful clear instructions, just like a recipe. My local irrigation shop found all the required bits for me and the instructions were really easy to follow. Best of all, the girls took about 3 seconds to get the hang of it, and it is now their "Al Fresco" feeding station. Fantastic article, thanks very much
  3. PatchtoTable
    Like your feeder Neuport
  4. Neuport
  5. Neuport
    I went with the bucket feeders 18 months ago and have had no problems. I used a 5 gallon bucket and three 3 inch (I think, could be 4") elbows and there was just enough room for the three elbows to fit. There are different styles/diameters of 5 gallon buckets so have one on hand at the store when you are testing for the fit of the 90 degree elbows.

    I inserted a piece of pipe into each elbow to make a rain hood. The pipe is cut at an angle so it is flush with the elbow on the bottom and sticks out on top to form the hood. The feeder sits on a square cinder block that is smaller than the bucket bottom.

    Since the bucket feeder is essentially the same as the vertical pipe in that both use PVC pipe/fittings as the feed opening, it should be equally easy to cap either one if you need to.

    Even in heavy rain, the only water that gets in mine is a little that runs in on the top of the pipe at the pipe/bucket junction. Very little feed gets wet and it has not been a problem. A bead of caulk around the pipe/bucket junction would eliminate it. Someday if I have nothing else to do I might caulk mine, but I doubt I'll bother. No rain gets in through the feed openings.

    I have pictures but see no way to post them here in the comments.
  6. speedy2020
    I built the treader feeder 4 years ago. It hanged outside my box coup and has been functioning well. I do like to PVC pip feeder. The only issue it doesn't hold much feed, pain to refill unless modify, and not rat/bird proof. I sure rat can jump 12-15" when discovered food.
  7. henny1129
    Very nice article! All the charts were really neat and quite helpful!
  8. PatchtoTable
    Terrible to hear you have had a dead bird in your bucket feeder - not good at all. You could try propping it up onto a stand (so that smaller birds cant get to it) and making another (smaller) feeder that only the smaller birds can get into?
  9. StelleKitten
    I have a problem with the pvc feeder that goes into the bucket. I have some similar to that and I have found that smaller birds can climb in and get stuck. It REALLY sucks to pull out a dead bird from a feeder. Another problem is the roo's with the bigger combs. It starts getting floppy and bent. So either you make the hole big enough for their combs or small enough that the small birds don't climb in. As far as spillage, it's wonderful! And for the most part it works great. Just those two problems that I think people should know about.
  10. PatchtoTable
    Psychochick - I have found that with the commercial (bought) feeders they really need to be hung up to work well.

    I am sure there are plenty of ways to improve the bucket feeder.

    Happy chicken feeder building

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