How much feeder space?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Ariel301, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    How much feeder space do I really need?

    I have a 15 foot long trough feeder for about 40 birds. It is full all the time with a variety of foods, I top it off several times a day, any time I am outside. The problem I am having is that when I put a scoop of feed in, all the birds rush to that one spot instead of spreading out as I add feed down the trough, instead they will stay bunched up in one spot until they eat all they can hold. The littler chickens rush in first, and then the bigger birds end up standing on top of them to eat--I have heavy roosters trampling on the necks and heads of bantams while the little ones are screaming and trying to get away, and the big ones just stand on them and ignore them and won't move until I literally have to go in kicking them and throwing them across the pen to rescue the smaller birds! They have adequate pen space and have access to several acres to free range too, so they are not really crowded, they can get away from each other or at the feeder any time they like, from inside the pen or outside of it. I am losing two or three birds a week lately with broken necks, wings, legs, and spines. Before, I had several flat round pans meant for feeding horses, and there was less space, but they shared it ok, and no one got hurt. The hurting only started when I built the trough, which has MORE room! I switched to this feeder because they would stand in the pans and kick the food all over, then poop on it and not eat it. With the trough, it is raised a little higher and they have to reach their heads through a wire panel (plenty big enough for their heads to get in and out safely) to eat, so they cannot put their feet in their food. It does save me lots of food that would be wasted otherwise, but I don't care about that if it means saving food at the cost of birds' lives.

    I've thought of maybe only filling it at night while they are sleeping to prevent them rushing the feeder...does anyone think that would work? Or have any other ideas? Is that really not enough space for that number of birds, should I build another trough?
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Sounds to me like it is plenty big and you need to fill it once a day, not necessarily at night, just one time only. Don't refil until the feed is nearly gone. Sounds like you will have to teach them to eat all their feed, not what you just put out, which they obviously prefer.
  3. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    I have a rain gutter trough (10' for 25 birds) and there is also a bit of pushing and shoving. In the beginning I would first go out to the run and throw kitchen scraps. So some of the birds would be working on that, then I would go in the coop and fill the trough. I fill mine twice per day, once at the first egg collection in the morning, then again when I collect for the last time after dinner. I've found the trick is to observe that there is at least a little bit left in the trough when I fill it the next time. If they are only rushing to eat when you fill it then distract them with some kitchen scraps or treats to break up the crowd. And my banties get a cement brick to stand on so they can easily reach the trough.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have two trough feeders (and more).

    Just take your scoop of food and

    do this:

    --- --- ---- ----- ---- ----- ----- -----

    all along the whole length of the trough. Presto! New food along the whole length, and it only took one scoop's worth. You can stir it in if you are worried about the food on the bottom not getting eaten.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  5. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    Quote:That's what I do, I put new food along the whole length of the feeder. But wherever the first scoop goes, that is where the birds go, and when I put down the next scoop, they do not spread out to get it--that's why the little birds are getting killed from trampling, they won't get out from under the big birds, and the big birds won't get off of them.

    Actually, watching the most problematic ones today, six New Hampshire roosters, I wonder if they are stomping on the smaller birds on purpose. I saw them stomping on smaller birds AWAY FROM the feeder today, and just standing on them looking around while the little birds were screaming and struggling! They would just walk up to another chicken and instead of going around it and keeping on going, they would step onto it and then stop, sometimes using their big feet to smash the littler bird down to the ground. (Not mating, just standing on them, especially if they can get their feet on the head or neck; they are even doing it to other roosters!) Definitely time for those monsters to meet my crock pot, I've waited way too long! Those roosters came as packing peanuts with my bantams, and they have been aggressive since day one, they killed a few of the other chicks over treats in the brooder. I tried putting these mean ones in another pen, but I don't have another one with a roof on it and even with clipped wings they get out and back in with the other birds.

    The trick of distracting them might be what I need. I can throw them some food scraps or grain on the other side of the pen while I fill their feeder up. I'll try that!
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    What I had to do with my older (bigger) birds was separate them into another flock with some fencing. They consistently attack all my other younger chickens. I have tried over and over to integrate the two flocks.

    Now I just have a run with two flocks, one on each side. And peace!
  7. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    Quote:There was never any integration needed with these, they all grew up together. Some are just bigger than others, I have a mix of breeds. At the moment, it is not practical for me to pen them all separately.
  8. Beth G.

    Beth G. Gaetano Family Farm

    Quote:Hi, Just some advice. No matter what all silkies/banties will be on the bottom of the pecking order. They are more passive no agressive and even if they try to stick up for themselves they will not succeed in being top dog. Your only solution is to separate them. The older the Roo's get the more aggressive they will get. Also you should never kick a Bird! They are fragile and you can colapse a lung very easy. Try scooting them gently with a broom before using your feet. I understand it is frustrating and that you never ordered the extra roos but, if it's that bad maybe it's time to relocate them of premise or think about butchering. I hope things get better for you and doing the treats can help distract but, no matter what it sounds like you have a pecking order problem. [​IMG]
  9. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I don't mean kicking like hard kicking. I started shooing them with a broom, but they have no respect for that, they just stand there while the broom smacks into them, so I sort of sweep them with my foot. It barely slows them down. I would not hurt one of my birds, don't worry!

    I'm not mad at getting the roosters, I am happy to have the "free" meat. This bunch in particular are just really stupid and aggressive so they are frustrating. They are going to be in the freezer as soon as I can get a free day to do it!

    Actually, most of the top birds in my flock are bantams. I don't have Silkies anymore, I got some for my husband because he liked the way they looked, but they were not to our tastes once we spent some time with them, just not hardy enough for where we live. Our bantams are mainly Cochin and games, and they are feisty! Those Old English games will beat on the bigger birds all day long, and they do their fair share of the trampling, it's just different when you have a little bird stand on top of a big bird versus a big bird standing on top of a little bird. It's not the pecking order. Top bird in my flock is a one pound (maybe!) bantam rooster.

    It is not possible for me to have any more pens at the moment, I live on a rental property and I am lucky just to be able to have the animals, the owners don't want a lot of fencing put up, or anything, they just want the desert left alone and natural. As soon as I get back on my feet from surgery and get a job again, my husband and I are going to try to buy a farm, but for now we have what we have. The birds can leave the pen during the day to get away from each other on seven acres, they are only locked up at night to keep predators away. There was no problem between the time we put the flock in the "grownup pen" until we switched to this style feeder, I don't know why they rush this feeder and didn't the other style...[​IMG]
  10. UrbanChick101

    UrbanChick101 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2010
    Eastern Iowa
    Just a thought, I read your description of your feeders on the nail guys thread. Can you make one taller for the "Big Birds" and feed them first and then move onto the little birds across the pen/coop, in the closer to the ground feeders??? The distraction may work well with this idea together. Unless the big guys want to eat from the small feeder. I fill the feed in the coop when they are all out in the run.

    I have pecking problems when I put the treats out in one pan... this is only my 2nd week with my girls and I started right away after noticing, putting the treats in a two dishes/ paper plates outside for them. And the pecking has cut way back... I always give to the bigger/highest in pecking order first and then to the others, as they tend to stand back. They don't mind the wait.

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