Chicken Feeders that Only They Can Get Into

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Blwuroo, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. Blwuroo

    Blwuroo Hatching

    Jan 15, 2019
    There is a sort of new rash of chicken feeders that works by a feed box being locked up until a chicken jumps on a pedal to unlock it. I've heard many labels but Treadle Feeders seems to be the most commonly used to describe them.

    They work simply by weight which the chicken supplies by stepping on a pedal step and some kind of door raises up or swings open. I have investigated or reviewed a fair amount of these types. The ones which opens a door straight upwards works with the weight of the chicken essentially is counter-balanced by the actual door which has to defy gravity greatly to raise up.

    The ones that just open a flat horizontal lid to a gravity fed feed tray, works pretty well if the "lid" only moves up with a down force the same weight as the chicken. The pedal has a few "elbow arms" that transfer the pedal going down with linkage to make the door go up. The weight of the chicken only will make the door open if it completely steps on it. The chicken cannot use it's beak to raise the door up thus neither can mice, rats, birds or anything that weighs less than a chicken. The door raises up and back out of the way. It happens so fast that the chicken doesn't even register it.

    There is one situation where opening a flat horizontal "lid" up creates a potentially fatal problem. Chickens like to stand in their feed dishes and of course they will be bending over to eat. Once they climb inside the door closes on them possibly trapping them such they don't know enough to open it back up if they are smaller than a full grown hen such as teens or grow-outs. I had one die from that. If you put a chicken in the dark suddenly they go inert and dormant. In most cases other chickens will come and let it out but it still is a serious risk I don't like to play odds with.

    The solution for that situation is easy. The door needs to be a vertical door (like a roll top desk) and only "raise a window" into the feed tray. The chickens can only put their heads inside to eat while standing on the pedal. You only have to rotate the lid design 90 degrees.

    The swing door kinds of treadle feeders are probably the worst design of these two types for one simple reason. It takes a couple pounds of chicken to move the pedal down to make the door swing back but a small animal can simply push the door in with little weight and crawl inside.

    The way it is designed is the door is not the counter weight to the pedal but just set up so that the chicken's weight is needed to make the pedal move independent of the swing door. Another Linkage bridged off that weight and separate counterweight design then only needs a little force to "swing" it in. Most of these types swings back and up in a quarter circle motion.

    The reason it is very easy to understand in engineering concepts. You can push the door with hardly any weight due to reverse leverage. The pedal to the door ratio is about 8 to 1 but going the other way it is 1 to 8, means a lot of weight is needed to open the door with the pedal but a little weight is needed to push the door to make the pedal go down. The weight factor is neutralized by the separate counterweight. What little weight is on the door only is swinging easily do to the rod it swings from. A little rotation of the rod moves the door a lot. Even putting more weight on the bottom of the door does not change this reverse leverage ratio.

    A rat with a wedged nose with his quarter pound weight behind him or what extra force he applies using his legs will easily just push the door open (where he will go to first). The funny part is that even if the rat gets trapped, a hungry chicken will come along and set the rat free. Whoever bought that feeder for their chickens will teach their chickens AND the rat how to use it and probably never know it is happening.

    There is a solution to this issue as well. The pedal needs to have an auxillary linkage that "unlocks" the door initially before the pedal makes the door open. It is a complex solution because of needing to create a delay of opening so the door can be unlocked in the first quarter inch of movement of the pedal. The linkage needs to be attached to the front edge of the pedal and extended back to the door to use the full range of down motion. The pedal is rotating down, not dropping down. There is little movement down where the pedal is close to door. The pedal is a cantilever of length. Such an un-locker linkage would be thrown out of calibration (bent) easily with chickens jumping on the pedal so often.

    There are two well advertised versions of this type of chicken auto swing feeder out there. i have them both and found the fatal flaw almost right away. I have tried to fix them with small success but I think they are basically useless out in the open as a sure fire preventative to any hungry scavenger getting fed.

    The pedal moving weight has to be counterbalanced by the door's weight. It should take the same force to move either the pedal or move the door manually. Chickens understand the pedal and learn it. Rats learn the door and use it. Which one is going to empty the tray first?
  2. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    O’d Like to read this post when I have more time, so I’m marking it. Thanks for posting.
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Crowing

    Feb 18, 2016
    Good information. You have done a lot of thinking on this......curse of an engineer I suppose? Never knew if an engineers need to solve problems left them in heaven or hell! :rolleyes:

    Anyway, you might find this interesting too.

    Builder is a BYC member and sometimes poster, as you will find in the thread.
  4. Blwuroo

    Blwuroo Hatching

    Jan 15, 2019
    Heaven if they solve it and Hell if they don't.
  5. Al Gerhart

    Al Gerhart Songster

    Sep 29, 2011
    Oklahoma City
    Kudos on your analysis of this problem and sharing it with everyone.

    They aren't new you know, mine has been in production since 2011 and the guillotine style design (Grandpa and the Chinese aluminum one design) has been around a very long time. The problem with those designs is leakage and the Amazon reviews will bear this out as well as their total failure at keeping out even small ground squirrels. One review shows a video of two tiny ground squirrels working together to bump up the grandpa feeder lid and munching away. They also take weeks to train and if you read the reviews a lot of folks just give up or keep it blocked open, defeating the purpose of spending that kind of money for a feeder.

    Your point about birds being trapped is very valid. Treadle feeders of any design ought to be used with full sized birds. We have a saying in Oklahoma. Farm animals are never safe around moving equipment or Oklahoma state senators. Still, the risk is there of killing a bird, but the risk of vermin transmitting disease to your flock and wiping out the entire flock is much greater.

    The vertical door idea is not a good idea, it is a sure fire death trap. A guillotine style feeder can at least be bumped up out of the way by a thrashing bird and an inward swinging door generally will push a bird's head out of the way before trapping it, not always, see the snarky comment about state senators. But harm is rare with the inward swinging doors except the one with the pretty green plastic parts. Some of the reviews have pictures of bloody headed chickens due to the birds having to crouch down and stick their head way up inside that design of feeder. That deep design does help on moisture though. A vertical door coming down on a bird that was eating from the side would certainly trap the head on most occasions. Mechanically, getting a small rotation/small travel distance on a treadle movement to amplify into the much longer needed door travel would mean gearing or a complicated multiple pulley system. One plus would be that forcing the door up would take a lot more weight but with a bird's head trapped under the door that is a plus only if you want chicken for dinner.

    Not sure what kind of swing door treadle feeder you have. The pretty green plastic lid feeders do indeed have a problem with vermin pushing in the door, a previous design like that went off the market, it had a few washers stacked up as counterweight, far from being enough weight. I don't know of any feeder other than mine that has a proper counterweight. And you are correct, extra weight on the bottom of a swinging door adds mass but that has little effect if enough critters are pushing on the door.

    My feeder, and Howard has linked to his excellent warts and all review on the feeder, has a massive counterweight, around two pounds of concrete. But even that isn't enough, the door has to be spring loaded if you want to stop rats. If you have the spring set stiff enough it will stop rats but not with a mixed age flock, the weight difference between a large rat and a small chicken simply isn't enough if the spring is not used or if the spring has been adjusted to allow small immature birds to use the feeder. You are asking way too much for a simple mechanical treadle feeder. Put an Arduino on there with a camera and some sophisticated facial recognition or pattern recognition software running and you have a shot at making a mixed size bird feeder. Good luck keeping it working in a chicken pen though.

    One thing that is critical when installing and training a flock is to never, ever, under any circumstances, block a feeder open. Part of what makes a treadle feeder work is starving out a pack of rats before enough of them learn to overwhelm the feeder and I am talking a dozen rats working together. Commercial flocks of free range birds are using our feeders and one reported that the first morning they dumped dozens of smothered rats out of one of the feeders. The cleaned the feeder with bleach after dumping the dead rats and put it back in service. Next morning, another feeder was full of dead rats. Same thing the next morning till they went through every single feeder. They said that the rats would never bother a feeder after it had killed a bunch of rats and eventually they ran out of rats or the rats starved and left searching for a new food source. But on a normal flock you might be dealing with a few dozen rats and rarely will one of the rats figure out how to organize his buddies before the rats starve or leave. But blocking a feeder open gives the rats knowledge and they will easily push up a guillotine style feeder, push in the door on the pretty green plastic part feeders, or learn to mob even the heaviest counter weighted and spring loaded door. Better they never know the feed is behind that door.

    An "unlocking" linkage is a lot tougher to implement than you think. Believe me, I have tried. A mechanical delay could be done, a sliding mechanism that could travel a short distance before bottoming out and causing the door to begin moving, but you would need dual linkages for that to work. Nor can you attach the linkage to the front of the pedal for several reasons. First it would lead to birds bumping into it, next you have to translate a fairly large treadle movement into far less movement or the door would bottom out against the front of the inner feed tray before the treadle bottomed out and yes, that treadle has to bottom out or the birds will not be comfortable using the feeder.

    The need to "gear down" that movement is why I attached the treadle wire link back right under the door crank, three inches of treadle travel is transformed into an inch of door crank travel/drop. The further you place that linkage attachment point to the front the less travel you have on the treadle itself and as you are aware, that gearing down makes the door harder to push open. And you are right that such a unlocking device would be bent and prone to failure.

    A feeder can fail by allowing dozens of rats to defeat it and the birds will survive but going on vacation for ten days and having a locking device fail and locking the birds out of their feed would be catastrophic. Add in the ammonia and moisture in a chicken coop, deep liter, and you have a vastly increased chance of jamming and failure. Plus the cost to implement such a linkage. A product is a good design only if it works the majority of the time, fails in a safe manner, is durable, and affordable enough for wide spread use. Add to that low maintenance and easily assembled by the average person.

    I have experimented with using the fact that a chicken naturally grasps with it's claws, a two part split treadle that required pulling together or the top section being pushed down a half inch before it traveled provided a method of that "delayed" action needed to trip a latch but freezing weather, poop on chicken feet, feathers, litter, all conspired to end that line of design testing.

    Your comment on the swing door feeders used in the open also caught my attention:

    "There are two well advertised versions of this type of chicken auto swing feeder out there. i have them both and found the fatal flaw almost right away. I have tried to fix them with small success but I think they are basically useless out in the open as a sure fire preventative to any hungry scavenger getting fed."

    Assuming you mean putting a chicken treadle feeder out in the open where any roaming critter can get to the feeder is asking way, way, too much. Really only two things can be used to construct a vermin proof feeder, a difference in weight and a different in reach. Rats, mice, a single squirrel, a couple of pigeons are one thing, a racoon or possum simple out reaches and out weighs any chicken out there. Fence out the big critters. My feeder uses the concrete counterweight and door pre load spring together with a narrow and distant treadle to use both weight and reach. Seeing the video of the two tiny ground squirrels bumping the guillotine style feeder open would be impossible on my feeder. Is it perfect? Far from it, there is a lot I could do to make it better but that would also make it more expensive and push it out of the range of the average person.

    Making the pedal moving weight and the door weight the same is not a good idea either as it would be very unsafe for the birds. You want that lid light enough that a trapped bird stands a chance at getting free. And besides, lord knows that a state senator might do with a trapped chicken. It would be even noisier as well although a good soft close system would help.

    Rats won't learn to test the door if the feeder is properly designed, has the spring loaded door, a proper counterweight, and the birds are trained properly. But you have one chance at starving them out before they learn to cooperate and even the non counter weighted designs with no spring loaded door can be successful some of the time.

    I enjoyed reading your well thought out and articulate post. Certainly a good thing to have old designs and old ideas tested and you certainly made me consider our design again but after making and selling way over ten thousand of these feeders since 2011 many an hour has been spent thinking and tinkering and it is the tinkering and prototypes that prove or disprove an improvement.

    You will like a couple of improvements that I made on our new large and extra large feeders (37 and 67 pounds capacity, medium is 26 pounds, small is 12). The increased width (a much asked for improvement) required spitting the single counterweight into two separate counterweights and adding a wire link to the other side which helps keep the treadle from twisting. They also have a series of holes drilled to adjust the spring. Not likely that the medium or small feeder will ever see these improvements as it added quite a bit of cost and production time. It did allow me to have my workers pre install the soft close cylinders so every large and extra large feeder will be soft close. The first container load of the new large and extra large feeder left my shop in the Philippines around the first week of January so I might have them in stock and for sale by mid February. They are large enough to be used for dogs too. I brought one home disassembled in a suitcase and my dog loves it. He is an old dog though and hasn't taken to stepping on the treadle, preferring to butt the door open and munch away. Old dogs and new tricks and all of that.
  6. Blwuroo

    Blwuroo Hatching

    Jan 15, 2019
    I have your treadle feeder and it is the one I am primarily referring to. I also have the one with the green door and inherently both have the same problem for the same basic overall design reasons but the green door version has a different scheme for the counterweight to the pedal. The door acts as a cantilever to rotate a rod that moves the pedal down. If you view it in this way from door to pedal action you can see that little force will move the pedal by pushing in the door.

    The reason is basic laws of leverage. The mechanical advantage of that door cantilever probably has at least a factor of about 60:1 (.25" diameter (rod) vs 18" diameter the door needs to swing a quarter turn). If the weight of the pedal is about 3 lbs, then divide that by 60 and you get what force is needed to move it at the door, less than 1 lb. The fact that is it only needs a force in the horizontal direction is the clue. No gravity resistance hardly at all and swinging it on a small rod takes little force. Think in terms of gear ratios, small gears moving large ones.

    Now the pedal and counterweight is another cantilever but your pivot point on the lever makes it about 1:1 so you need a bit more than 2.5 lbs on the pedal to move the 2.5 lbs counterweight up. Your connection with the door link creates a third cantilever with a ratio of 1:2 with the counterweight. If the pedal is unloaded then the overall mechanical advantage is still the door with an overall advantage of about 30 (60/2). For a 2.5 lb counterweight only pushing on the door with less than 1 lb of force will raise that counterweight to full height. This is why you HAD to put that spring on. Realize that that spring is really the ONLY thing making the door keep rats out, not the counterweight or difficulty to push the pedal down.

    That spring was not a good choice of parts because a spring has a non-linear force action to move it. The force required will increase the more you stretch it. Of course this also means that it's weakest point is right at the beginning of the stretch. You should have used another counterweight on another cantilever in place of the spring to oppose the door moving, not the pedal. If you would have done that, the big counterweight on the bottom would be unnecessary. Springs will lose their elasticity eventually to weaken and take less force to stretch at some point.

    The pedal and door are the ones that need to be in a weight/counterweight opposition otherwise you end up with the gross counterweight over-designed solution as I have shown you have. By countering only the pedal you allowed the door to create the leverage advantage to easily move the pedal (and counterweight).

    The idea of a swing door is a method that can be solved by many schemes but you chose probably the worst of them. I hope I have shown that the way you made it was way more than you needed to do and it still has many issues as well as not being rat proof at all without that spring. The spring is really an attempt to makeup for the poor choice of pedal/counterweight design.

    The swinging door inherently has a problem where it will always create that mechanical advantage due to the rotation of the door pivoting from a rod. In order to counter it, you will need a big counterweight to overcome that 60:1 advantage even putting weight on the door. One of the benefits to a raise-up door is you use gravity to your advantage and the door becomes the counterweight. It is easy to add or subtract weight to both the pedal or the door. You want the lever ratio to be 1:1 so that trying to move the door requires the same force as the pedal. You created a big hp engine of a door and the spring is just a brake.

    Yes, an animal that is big and smart whether it is two squirrels or a half dozen rats working together (which they will learn the same as a squirrel; they are both rodents) is going to always defeat the system at some point whether you have this method or another one as long as it is based upon only a difference of weight of a large or small animal.

    There is no one feeder design to keep the wrong animals out of it in all situations. People who want it easy with an all-in-one device and let their chickens out have to realize that they cannot protect or feed their chickens out and about without having to contend with large losses of livestock and feed. What works in the field with a bear or large bird of prey?

    I find that a more practical overall solution is in having multiple solutions in layers some what like the old city design of have concentric circles of walls inside but I'm not talking about free ranging. These treadle feeders work best if they are inside of a cage. I've learned how to keep out even rats out of the cages at night.

    There is one solution to free ranging though and that is to put feeders inside an area you can close up at night but no one wants to go shut gates each night and miss out on night time TV. Rats are nocturnal as well as squirrels and many other hungry varmints. Simple solution to that fact

    Feeders that are out in the field or on the patio need a different protection concept and design for chickens. The need of protection is so vast, I don't think it is practical to attempt to solve it. Feed the chickens near their roost in a cage. Minimize the problem. I decided never let the birds out to be susceptible to a full range of predators (owls, skunks, weasles, domestic dogs, coyotes, wolves, lions and bears).

    The logic of how good something is to be around a long time is not valid either. Something a little better even flawed people will use until something better comes along. Sometimes it is a perception of something working better not that it really does. It is human nature to put up with what you have because most people are not engineers or able to create easu solutions to mechanical problems. Things that work half good is better than having nothing at all. When people experience a better situation, they will change to it if it is reliable and affordable but too cheap ultimate problem solving devices are too good to be true and create a discouragement to looking for good designs.

    I have to also stress with your design that you cut too many corners on it with crude parts and sloppy metal work. Your selling price could have paid for better or different simple parts such as using a threaded rod with cap nuts to open the top and cheap aluminum angle bars instead of bendable wire. I had to take many of the parts and either bend them square (pivot rod) or replace them with better parts. The design is off balance having a counterweight only on one side and the pedal wants to torque up on the right side and it will after the hundredth chicken jumps on the pedal off to the right side.

    When I see that attitude to use cheaper parts than is necessary, I know that a good design is not the objective but income. Make it work for a little while seemingly well. I went thru and completely corrected all the poor elements except that door easy push problem. I have a solution for it but it's not worth doing another design makeup for it. My solutions took a bit of time to do but the cost of the parts was small, all from Home Depot but of course the hardware stores in the Phillipines may not have some of them. Reverse engineering of what I did to it would not take a whole lot of study to make it easy to mass produce but then if this were my design, I would trash it and redesign it with a different scheme.

    My advice for this (Not) Rat Proof design is get rid of the spring and move the counterweight up to the left side of the door pivot rod and put weight upon the door swing action, not the pedal action. I don't like sheet metal around chickens. Their poop gets on every thing and it will corrode galvanized metal. Wood works best. Use hardwood. The nylon lock nuts and rivits was a good choice though.

    The last real complaint with that metal box is it is not stable enough to stand up. it needs a base counterweight. I created one out of strips of non-wood plank decking. Works well. keeps the metal sides out of the poop soup. The cost of labor and shipping from abroad creates a need for less weight and the compromises made forced this metal box to be reinforced by the buyer. The infinite types of places a buyer will have to put this feeder makes the need for a crude fix to make it stand up is very impractical and cheap. A good product needs to stand alone and work.

    As far as fire traps ....sparks or fires in a chicken area, come on! The lift up elbow linkage treadle feeder can fail by many means but not uniquely from fire issues but forest fires perhaps.
  7. Al Gerhart

    Al Gerhart Songster

    Sep 29, 2011
    Oklahoma City
    What do engineers use for birth control?

    Their personalities......

    My bad joke for the day.

    Now really, how do you misinterpret the phrase "a sure fire death trap" with " sparks or fire in a chicken pen? The phrase means that a vertical door would be sure to kill many a chicken. As in coming down on their head and strangling them. The coop doesn't need to be on fire, might help, some might escape a fire but not a vertical drop door!

    I have several friends that are engineers and all of them tend to overthink things and get lost simply because few of them have ever actually built a product and marketed it for one simple reason; getting lost in the details. Few make it past drawing and designing as they simply aren't capable. Making a feeder out of wood has been done, my original feeder was wood, they swell up like a toad frog in a chicken pen and bind in short order. Not to mention being chewed through in short order. Lots more reasons below on why wood would be a foolish choice.

    And after selling thousands of these things they stop the rats if installed properly. Several hundred reviews on our shopping cart and all over the internet. Mr. Howard was right though, follow the instructions if you want it to work.

    And all the gobblyde goop, engineering poorn (LOL) and buzz words aside, no other design has spent the money to put in a counterweight to offset the weight of the treadle which is why even the guillotine style feeders like the Grandpa feeder have plenty of reviews saying rats push their way into the feeders. Like the green plastic parts feeder, that treadle actually helps the rats push their way into the feeder as there is no counterweight.

    The spring was incorporated several years after we started production, simply to hold the doors tightly closed and overcome any twist in the doors. The fact that it added resistance to the door being pushed open was bonus, so no, we didn't have to put the spring on the feeder. But when in place in factory condition, most people have to weaken the spring to fit their smaller birds as the action is too stiff for a four pound bird. Yes, they are linear, but they are cheap and easy to replace and they keep the price down. Yes springs eventually fail, they are wear items, we sell three for six bucks and $3.75 is mailing cost so no we aren't getting rich off selling springs. I wish....

    A counterweight behind the door, on the outside at the top certainly would be easier but what a foolish idea! Say you put a half pound weight, well to keep the side profile down you would be looking at say a three inch diameter so the axle would have that weight out past three inches, then you try to move that with a one inch crank, leverage, leverage, leverage. But you would still need a counterweight to balance the treadle and step or like the other feeders on the market, the door would be easily pushed in by mice much less rats.

    And again, a rising door is a death trap for chickens! There will always be birds reaching in from the side or slipping off the treadle after it is slick with poo. Lots of customers love their birds. Safety is number one, price is next, looks and pleasing the OCD sufferers is way down the list.

    And no, no feeder is going to work for bears, possums, raccoons, you simply cannot design a reasonably priced feeder to work in such a corrosive environment as a chicken coop and handle such a huge range of sizes and reach that are much more than the largest chicken. Why even discuss what would be impossible? I've had a few ask about a goat proof feeder and wisely I kept my mouth shut on what I would have liked to have said and just suggested to fence the goats out of the chicken pen.

    Yes, products come along and fill a need till something better comes along. When I started making feeders the Grandpa feeders were above $240.00 plus shipping. We cleaned their clock, their prices dropped $100 as we took a lot of their market share. The pretty green feeders started being dumped in the U.S. around 2016, they sell a different version in Europe and I was certain they were just dumping their stock outside their normal market to get rid of it. But even those things work for some people, or they did, it seems that either Amazon pulled the plug on most of the sellers over returns or they sold off all the old stock because only one seller is left on Amazon and they are gone from Ebay as well. One of these days someone is going to create a feeder that beats my feeder but then we will see if it is as durable, if it is affordable, or if the inventor has the skills to keep it on the market and deal with the retail crowd.

    And sorry, you have no idea on the costs of producing a product, the retail losses involved, or practical real world issues that come with these silly ideas you are coming up with. Could a threaded rod be used as a lid axle, of course, adds to the weight for shipping, is over kill, adds to the cost a lot. A wire axle does the trick, same that the green plastic parts feeder used. Good design isn't making a god awful priced contraption that no one can afford, good design is making a part study enough, just sturdy enough, to fulfill the function. And using aluminum angle iron? On a steel fastener? In a chicken house reeking of ammonia and moisture? Didn't they cover dissimilar metals and what happens when moisture is introduced? You make a crude battery that corrodes the crap out of the steel and the aluminum. Many an engineer or architect learns this the hard way as multi million dollar roofs corrode away in a matter of months. I used to frame houses and many a homeowner would ask the architect about framing sizes and load only to be told to let the framer do it, they knew what passed code, the framer knew what actually stood up over time.

    We do get an email once or twice a year on treadles torquing on the right and the last time it happened I changed my standard reply and asked for pictures. Sure enough they hadn't followed the directions in installing the treadle. Had the lock nuts just barely on the ends of the bolts. When the treadle is properly installed, nuts tight, then backed off 1/8 of a turn, the treadle doesn't flex that much and yeah, a one side design will flex a bit but is it not foolish to spend twice the money on two cranks, two linkages, two counter weights, having twice the things to go wrong simply because a treadle isn't perfectly level? The OCD sufferers can go soak their heads in a bucket of water, I don't want them as customers, I want them to buy other brands of feeders so those brands lose money shipping feeders to them and having them returned.

    We did go with the double sided crank on the large and extra large feeders and it is much harder to manufacture and assemble and get synchronized. But we are getting 50% and 100% more for that feeder. You seem not to understand that most folks aren't swimming in cash to be able to afford a $140.00 feeder that costs $30.00 to ship halfway across the country. Think of it like a riding mower, at some price point it is impossible to build, get to $1000 and you can build a cheap one, but a $1500 mower is much better. Well, there are a lot of people that need a $125.00 push mower because that is all they can afford. That is our market, not the OCD crowd, not the engineers with zero practical experience in actually building a product much less building a chicken feeder.

    Oh please, income? Again we run into the reasons why few engineers make good businessmen. A well run company might make 5%, huge constructions companies would be happy with 3%, I can clear 10% if the online fraud and outright theft is low. $6.50 profit off a feeder. I could make ten times that making a Grandpa feeder knock off but the design is poor, is inherently dangerous, leaks are common if your read the reviews, and it takes far more time to train a bird. I could make feeders with plastic parts but like the pretty green feeders it would be on the market for a year or two before its reputation sunk the sales. But I never wanted to do that, I wanted to fill a niche in the market with a cheap, durable, safer, and more rat proof feeder than what was available in 2012 and I have sold container loads of them.

    I get it that you are trying to be helpful but you are confusing perfect and unaffordable with what the market requires. The market demands sheet metal feeders, not wood, not plastic, because rats will chew through the softer materials. Doesn't matter what you like, you simply don't have enough practical experience. And dear god, hardwood? You want to use a material that costs at least $2.50 per square foot? Nine square feet of material, $23.00 of materials just for the panels? Watch it bow, split, warp, rot, jam the door and let your flock starve while you are on vacation kind of hardwood? Watch the screws and nails rust out with all the ammonia and moisture? Or are we gonna spend $5.00 on stainless steel fasteners?

    People think that a widget is sold for $50.00 and the seller keeps the money. No, typically a product has to be produced for way less than half the retail selling price. Margins in manufacturing common items, even niche items like chicken feeders are razor thin. Even a seller might have $32.00 gross in selling an item but watch it erode with overhead, insurance, credit card/paypal fraud, advertising, outright theft on more occasions than you will ever know, credit card fees that are around 3.5% of the selling and shipping price. That one thing, it isn't uncommon for shipping to be half of the selling price these days. $65.00 feeder, $35.00 shipping, $90.00, $3.15 off the margin before you even get paid for the sale. Ten percent of your margin if you are getting a great deal from the distributor or manufacturer. Then some idiot buys a $65.00 feeder expecting it to be Steinway piano quality and cancels the credit card and keeps the feeder. Or they sold it on Amazon and the return shipping fees and charges for returns dwarfs what you stood to gain from selling the feeder. Or a few times a year you mess up and ship a defective feeder that needs returned at your cost, you just wiped out the profit off the next fifteen to twenty feeders.

    And good lord, the box isn't supposed to stand up on its own. Of course it will fall over if a big bird jumps on the treadle and it is less than half full. Leverage! The marketing text and instructions CLEARLY tell you to mount the feeder to a wall, post, or screwed down to a large chunk of plywood that is staked down to the ground. We even put a wood block in the box. Plus the instructions and websites tell you other reasons, to keep the feed from shaking down too much and piling up at the bottom of the feed tray.

    And no, shipping from abroad does not create less need for weight nor does that impact shipping to retail customers unless you get really stupid with your design. Again, engineers make piss poor managers or businessmen because they blind themselves to the simple things like this. A sixty thousand pound container would ship at the same price as an empty container but practically it is impossible to overload even a 40' HC container with feeders. The feeders could weigh 40 pounds and not cost as cent more to ship via ocean freight. Almost the same with UPS or Fedex or the post office. Ever hear of dimensional weight? That 15 pound feeder ships as if it weighs 28 pounds so no, weight isn't a factor and forces no compromises. It would if you made it out of hardwood, figure a 37 pound feeder at least. Now you are costing the customer money for no good reason. And with that doubled weight you would quadruple the shipping damages, require a heavier box to even limit the damage to quadruple.

    And no, there are no infinite places to put the feeder and no, a good product doesn't need to stand on its own. Would you install a pedestal sink and not fasten it to a wall? Install a chest of drawers and not put an anti tip bracket on it? Buy a vise and expect it to be useful without bolting it down? Buy a reloading press and not clamp it to a table? No, of course not. Leverage......The marketing info and instructions tell you to fasten the feeder to a wall or post with the supplied wood block. Go back to your lessons on leverage, a ten pound rooster jumping on a fifteen pound empty feeder means that the feeder needs fastened to a wall or post or do as we suggest and stake it down on a plywood base.

    I get it, you are trying to be helpful and the idea of putting a weight on the door crank is interesting I will say but impractical. Like how are yah gonna get it through the side of the feeder? The middle of that crank has to have a flat bar welded to it so the short bent end of the door crank has to go through the 1/4" hole in the side panel. Going to insert the crank and gas weld the flat bar in place? How is the customer going to be able to repair such an assembly? Saw it off and ship them a set of oxygen/acetylene bottles along with a welding rig with the replacement door axle?

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