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How many feeders per hen?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Alagrace, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. Alagrace

    Alagrace In the Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2015
    I recently bought one size medium rat proof chicken feeder from Al at the Carpenter shop since we have had a rat infestation. My hens are slowly learning, however, the ones that are at the bottom of the pecking order just stand back and watch because there isn't room for them. How many do you guys have? I have 10 hens. Do you think this will be enough or should I order another?
     

  2. It depends on a few things.....
    1) type of chickens you have (different chickens eat different amounts of food)
    2) How many pounds of feed does the "medium" feeder hold
    3) How often do you feed

    One of my coops I have a 15 pound feeder with Buff Orph and plymouth rock and I feed once a week of lay pellets. There is usually around 1/4 of the container left every week prior to filling it to the top. In that coop we have 9 hens and 1 Rooster. They also get greens and super worms every other day.
     
  3. Alagrace

    Alagrace In the Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2015
    Thanks for your response. I have a variety of different- 2 Wyandotte, 1 Buff, 4 Easter Eggers, 2 Olive Eggers, and 1 Australorp. I am home to refill the feeder as needed and if we are gone our neighbor takes care of them for us. The feeder holds 26 lbs of feed and 3 hens can eat at a time. I think once they figure it out, they won't be so hungry. Yesterday, I gave them about 10 lessons on eating out of the feeder by holding down the treadle while they stepped on it. Today I went out and one of my wyandottes and my buff were eating out of it just fine. I think I was worried about it at first because they were fighting over it. Now things have seemed to calm down for them. Something new, without open feed all over = a some stress for them, but I think they will catch on just fine. In the end it will be less stress for them than having the rats use their roost as a runway.
     
  4. 26lbs of food should be more then enough for a good amount of time. Make sure that your food stays dry and fresh. You may want to only add half at a time until they catch on? It may take them time to figure it out having to go thru steps in order to get food and may be a little tough on some of the birds. I would make sure to keep an eye on them and the amount of food used to insure all your ladies are getting a proper feeding. Do you add any treats of greens or meal worm/ super worms ? Adding a few dry meal or super worms to the area by the food might attract a little bit of attention and allow them to recognize that area for food. Good luck!
     
  5. Alagrace

    Alagrace In the Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2015
    I do add treats! We give them fresh salad from our garden, and they love our raspberry/blackberry leaves. Sometimes food scraps. I will try that. Thanks!
     
  6. Al Gerhart

    Al Gerhart Chirping

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    Sep 29, 2011
    Oklahoma City
    And old thread but just now seeing it. Always email us if you are having training issues, we can help.

    The number of hens per feeder depends on how many feeders you have and how long the pecking order has been established and if it is stable. A good rule of thumb is 12 to 16 birds per feeder in an established flock. A hen eats around 4 ounces of feed per day so there are around 100 days of feed if only one bird is eating or ten days for ten birds and so on. However, two feeders will serve more than 24 to 32 birds as one feeder will almost always be not in use when a bird gets hungry. I have seen commerical free range flocks that use dozens of our feeders go as high as 50 birds per feeder but of course they are refilling the feeders every day or every other day.

    The basics of training are simple. First, make certain the feeder is solidly attached to a wall or post so it won't wobble around in use. Second, that treadle has to bottom out so the bird isn't wobbling around trying to balance. One foot on the ground and one foot on the treadle is what they eventually learn. Third, adjust the spring if needed or tweak the feeder by adding weight to the treadle step if you have lightweight chickens. All springs need adjusted by stretching as part of the installation, we have a video on our main website showing that, also on Youtube.

    All that done, now you are ready to fill the feeder and start training. Never, ever, for any reason, block the door open or pin the treadle down. Doing so teaches the birds that the treadle and door isn't supposed to move. Yes, the guillotine style feeders have to do this but not the Rat Proof Chicken Feeder. Fill the feeder the night before before the birds go to roost and remove ALL other feed including any spilled feed in the deep litter. Pen the birds up if they free range. You HAVE to force the birds to use only the feeder inside the treadle feeder

    The next morning wait a few hour so that the birds are hungry. Use your toe to show them the feed, one brave bird will usually step up and try to eat. Let her (roosters seldom learn as quickly, sorry guys, it is true) eat for a few seconds and gently move her off the treadle and let it close. Most birds will try to naturally step up on the treadle bar because it is step height and in her way. If the bird doesn't try to step up, go do something else, they are NOT hungry enough yet. Try again in one hour. One minute, two minutes at the most, if they are not trying go do something else!

    Do not set a bird on the treadle. Do not block it open. Treats are great but not really needed. IF they have no other feed or free range the bird will be hungry in two to four hours and should MOB the feeder when you show them the feed. I am talking nothing but chicken rear ends showing and the feeder jammed with hens.

    We get one or two emails or phone calls (Grrrr, please email!) a month saying they are having problems teaching the hens to use the feeder. Our system sends out a two week after sale email asking if a customer needs help, which is too late but then again most flocks catch on in one day anyway. What we have ALWAYS found is that the directions not being followed or understood is ALWAYS the problem. We always ask for a photo of the installation and a cell phone video of a chicken trying to use the feeder. When those are provided, and usually after the customer checks the basic problem areas we suggest, we will find that the feeder is hung high on a wall and impossible for the bird to balance and eat, the feeder isn't secured to something solid so it is wobbling, or from the video you can tell the spring wasn't adjusted and the door is slamming very loud.

    One case was frustrating, a super smart guy, a doctor no less and a fellow inventor. A week was spent and nothing was working till the guy admitted that he wasn't following the training instructions at all and he had mounted the feeder high on a wall and managed to block the door open! A perfect trifecta of wrong. When I asked him why he wasn't following the instructions his answer was that he was trying to use logic on the chickens. Chickens don't do logic, they operate on instinct mostly. Prey animals have their eyes set on the side of there heads to expand their field of vision, predators have eyes on the front to give binocular vision for more precise viewing. Predators tend to be flighty, easily startled, distrustful of new things, and part of this is their vision, one eye on the target at a time. Watch a bird move their head back and forth when something new appears in their coop, trying to get a better view.

    Once I got through to this fellow that logic wouldn't work he removed the feeder overnight like I asked and started over following our directions. The birds mobbed the feeder the next morning after a couple of training attempts.

    Chickens are chickens, all are nervous. All distrust new things in their world. All are little velociraptors once they are truly hungry. Birds don't usually have large stomachs and have to eat constantly so a few hours, two to four, is enough if you have the feeder installed and assembled correctly.
     

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