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Free range chicken feeders

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Mark, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Mark

    Mark Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2007
    North Central Texas
    When trying to feed our free-range chickens without feeding our dogs, the raccoons, the rats, the squirrels and opossums, I'm reminded of the old riddle about a man who has to get a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn across a river.

    As it stands, we have a hen-house with a small enclosed pen. Attached to these locked down areas, we have a larger pen enclosed with goat fencing, but with a gate constructed of pipe. Our feeder is in the pen. This keeps our dogs out, but lets the chickens come and go. Unfortunately, the feeder also attracts rats, squirrels, opossums and raccoons. If the opossums and raccoons show up at the same time as the chickens, bad things happen.

    There are some feeders for sale that require something as heavy as a chicken to open the feeder. This solves the rats and squirrel problem, but not the opossum and raccoon problem.

    The best I can come up with is one of the 'weight required' feeders on a 4' stand with metal sides. The 4' stand keeps the opossums and racoons at bay, and the 'weight required' feeder limits access to rats and squirrels that drop in from a tree.

    Anyone solved this problem?

    Mark
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I am planning to build one of those treadle feeders in the near future so I can perhaps answer better after that's done. We just moved two weeks ago and at the old house, had a lively population of mice who were able to go forth and multiply due to the easy availability of the chicken feed. That is why, when we moved to the new place I decided to build a treadle feeder.

    I do not keep feed anywhere except the coop. My feeling is that if it is in the coop, they are encouraged to return to the coop regularly to eat and therefore, eggs are laid there, and I don't have issues with them trying to roost at night in places outside of the coop. Access to the coop is via an automatic door so while it is open during the day, it is locked tight at night. Most of the critters I am concerned about are nocturnal so won't have access to the feed. Mice will go after it any time of day (once they discover we are here) but I'm hoping the treadle feeder will prevent their access to it.
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2007
    North Central Texas
    HEChicken,

    I'm pretty sure we have the mice problem you mention. The mice are probably joined by rats, too.

    We don't use electronic doors. To be honest, we are hit and miss about locking the chickens up. An electronic door would solve this.

    We have lost chickens at dusk, though. It is my guess that the raccoons and opossums that were involved found the feeder and night, and eventually started visiting at dusk. That's why I want the food out of their reach. Putting a feeder in the nightly lock-down, might do the job. I hadn't really thought of that.

    Mark
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    7,544
    168
    306
    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    My door has only been installed for two days since this is a new coop (we only moved in two weeks ago and moved the last of the birds just a few days ago) but I highly recommend it. At our old place they weren't locked up since our backyard was secure. Now that we are on an acreage in the country, there are far more predators around and I wanted them to be safe. I am most concerned at night since raccoons, coyotes etc are most active then, so having them locked in securely was, I felt, paramount to keeping losses to a minimum.

    I got the pullet shut door but there are many on the market and it helps to research all of them to get a feel for what options and preferences work best in your situation. So far (2 days) mine has worked flawlessly, shutting the door about 20 minutes after they all go quiet and opening it again at first light. I got a light sensor to operate mine so it will automatically adjust throughout the year when days are shorter or longer. If you live in an area where a light sensor won't work, you can program it to operate via a timer, which would work pretty well too - you just have to remember to change the open/close times on it as the length of days change.
     
  5. Fur & Feathers

    Fur & Feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 7, 2011
    cheshire
    My Coop
    woud building an electric fence around the outside of the chicken boundaries be a possibility?
    have seen some hardcore electric fenced fortresses of american BYCers before,very different to over here-our main adult chicken predator is the fox.
     

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