Grandpa Feeders and Larger Flocks

Lizzy733

Crowing
Nov 13, 2018
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New Zealand
Hey guys,

I'm making the move to increase my flock size and have a feeder question - now, I currently have a 12kg feed-o-matic, which is working really well for my flock of currently 3 hens - even did okay when there were 4, but only 2 chickens can feasibly feed from it at a time, even the 20kg ones!

I've seen the larger 'snap trap' style feeders and they just look quite hazardous and the feed seems less protected. While my flock numbers were limited to 6, I'd already planned to get a second feed-o-matic to help integrate the new hens, but now that we're moving out of town and away from that limit, I'm not so sure it would suit my future plans.

Of course, I have a few plastic feeders lying around, but we've had rat trouble with using those and I'd like to not give rats a reason to hang around my flock when we move. What are your thoughts on the snappy lid galvanized treadle feeders? Any horror stories of birds getting caught or other troubles I should look out for if I go for one of these?
 
Feb 1, 2021
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I use plastic. We live out in the country and I have NEVER had rat problem s or other animals. I would try the plastic, and if it doesn't work... Kitty cat?? 😆😆😆
 

Lizzy733

Crowing
Nov 13, 2018
1,045
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New Zealand
I use plastic. We live out in the country and I have NEVER had rat problem s or other animals. I would try the plastic, and if it doesn't work... Kitty cat?? 😆😆😆
No kitty cat :(

Native bush.. Kiwi's.. there's a land covenant in place against cats, dogs, and mustelids.

Our current setup is next to a horse feed shed in the city, with horse fields behind our backyard.

The rats got out of control in winter and were running around in broad daylight, which is why we brought in the feed-o-matic. The rats stopped visiting the run shortly after, but are still a problem for the horse lady.

Also food thieves like sparrows... I'd rather keep them and their diseases away from my birds. The feeder has well paid for itself since we got it.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
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I have heard of issues with the treadle feeders smashing little chicks.

I haven't used them. :idunno

If you make the entire coop and run rat proof... and so also stoat proof... you could switch to whatever feeder you like, since those pests willno longer be able to enter the chicken area.

If you have adults only, and like the treadle feeders, I would switch to having 2 or 3, so that you know everyone is eating and no one is getting bullied off the feed.
 

backyardfeedco

Chirping
Nov 6, 2020
11
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59
If you are worried about rats, sprinkle some red pepper flakes in your feed. The birds won’t mind since they can’t taste anything spicy, but the rats will hopefully be repelled.
 

Lizzy733

Crowing
Nov 13, 2018
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New Zealand
I found one that has a design like the feed-o-matic, but is wider - 52cm, so should be able to fit a fair few more at once. It opens upward, but is not accessible without being on the tread and is still gravity fed like the feed-o-matic. Will fit around 11kg of feed.

I've just had some strong personalities in my flock before and know with the one, 4 hens were pretty pushy - lining up to use it - when it was first introduced. (Most of the strong personalities were my older shavers which all passed over winter though)

Mainly, I just want to avoid the morning rush squabbles. - especially once my flock grows - and still have the feed secure from predators.

Going to be trying a low-pressure system waterer too... Not done one before, but everything is on tank water up there and I have a blue barrel to hook up to it which will hopefully produce the right pressure - I think it wants under 8 psi.

Will be trial and error on that one.
 

Al Gerhart

Crowing
10 Years
Sep 29, 2011
874
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Oklahoma City
experience from the commercial flocks that use our feeder shows that the more feeders you have the more birds per feeder you can get away with. Even during "rush hour" when they come off the roost one feeder is likely to be open. I have seen bird loads as high as sixty per feeder in commercial free range flocks using our feeder, of course they have to refill every two days, but watching videos of the flock shows that the majority of the feeders are not in use at any given time.

Once the pecking order is set the birds will do fine with fewer feeders.
 

springvalley123

Crowing
6 Years
May 22, 2015
1,229
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North of Phoenix
The Grandpa feeders have "training bolts" that you use to keep the feeding top open. You have to do this initially to train the birds that they get food if they step on the treadle, and you could use it for younger birds if they were too light to open the feeding top via the treadle, yet could still reach in to eat. They have guards on the side so that a full sized hen cannot reach over the side to eat while another bird is on the treadle, only to have her head chopped off when the other bird stepped off the treadle. That said, I have this exact model, and have seen a hen eating from the side, while not standing on the treadle. I still have the training bolts in place because even after months, my girls are still hesitant to use the feeder without this feature. And, I'd say possibly 3 birds could feed at a time, I have the "up to 6 birds" model. I use an extra pan of food so they can all access feed (during the daylight), and these birds get along very well.

So, I still get up before sunrise to open the feeder, and close it after the last bird goes to roost. If your new location doesn't happen to be next to a "rat attraction" such as a horse facility, I'd try the plastic feeders, if you were up to removing them at sunset and putting them back up at sunrise.
 

Lizzy733

Crowing
Nov 13, 2018
1,045
1,879
251
New Zealand
The Grandpa feeders have "training bolts" that you use to keep the feeding top open. You have to do this initially to train the birds that they get food if they step on the treadle, and you could use it for younger birds if they were too light to open the feeding top via the treadle, yet could still reach in to eat. They have guards on the side so that a full sized hen cannot reach over the side to eat while another bird is on the treadle, only to have her head chopped off when the other bird stepped off the treadle. That said, I have this exact model, and have seen a hen eating from the side, while not standing on the treadle. I still have the training bolts in place because even after months, my girls are still hesitant to use the feeder without this feature. And, I'd say possibly 3 birds could feed at a time, I have the "up to 6 birds" model. I use an extra pan of food so they can all access feed (during the daylight), and these birds get along very well.

So, I still get up before sunrise to open the feeder, and close it after the last bird goes to roost. If your new location doesn't happen to be next to a "rat attraction" such as a horse facility, I'd try the plastic feeders, if you were up to removing them at sunset and putting them back up at sunrise.
We already have one and I trained the girls without a bolt or propping the feeder open. Took maybe 2 days and I made sure everyone got a good feed out of it. I didnt want to risk the rats finding the food as some are quite large, so sat out there with them while they were hungry and held it open for them until they stepped on themselves.

The question was in relation to larger flocks as my current feeder makes it impossible for hens to feed from the side and only 2 can fit at a time.

I found one that's the same 'no side' design but twice the width, so should theoretically be able to fit 4 at once. (Gravity fed, only holds 10kg though).

These are all very deep feeders, so side-eating is impossible. Ive seen ones advertised with a side guard panel and many that have no side guard at all and just a hinged lid.

When I posted this, I wasn't aware of others similar to my current, which only accommodates 2 hens at once. Even their larger models are not wider - guess its a good selling strategy for them, but they are also not cheap, so fitting more birds at once is more desirable so I can cover more birds with less as I will be expanding my flock over the next year.
 

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