The benefits of raising chickens in poultry farms and even in backyard farms are endless. Anyone who has experienced chicken farming would agree that there are equally compelling reasons to keep chickens, whether in coops or in free-range. Among many other things, chickens contribute to the health of the soil and make nearly free pest control. Vital to the attainment of these benefits that far outweigh just reaping fresh eggs every day is the right practice and essentials in chicken farming. These include selecting a feeder for chickens the right way.
The goal in making the right selection of chicken feeder is to be able to outsmart the chickens that like to scratch the feed a lot out of the containers and bill out half of the feed into the floor. As there are variety of designs, materials, sizes, and prices of chicken feeders, the factors to consider in selecting a feeder for chickens will facilitate informed decisions:
- number of chickens
- age of chickens
- type of feeder
- type of feed
Sure, it is a lot less easy to just throw chicken feed straight into the ground and let the chickens peck it there. However, this activity does not only result in higher rates of waste in the chicken feed but also foster diseases in chickens. Using a wrong feeder, on the other hand, can lead to waste in feed, contamination of feces, overeating in chickens, and waste in time and money. Common sense should tell you that it is better to spend some money on a chicken feeder than to put your chickens at risk.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a chicken feeder. Some chicken feeders in the market are deceiving in appearances, including innovative construction and design. Make sure to identify the good points in a chicken feeder that can satisfy the needs of your chickens and yours.
NUMBER OF CHICKENS
One of the prerequisites in selecting a feeder for chickens is their total size. A chicken feeder that can hold one day’s worth of feed is enough for a couple of chickens. In much the same way, a chicken feeder with a larger capacity is necessary for 20 or more chickens. In short, feed capacity is directly proportional to the number of chickens.
AGE OF CHICKENS
The age of the chickens is relevant because some chicken feeders in the market are only suitable for adult chickens. Young chickens should have a different feeder to avoid getting stamped on by full-grown ones during feeding. In addition to that, young chickens may also need a different type of feed, which all the more call for a separate feeder.
TYPE OF FEEDER
Some feeders sit on the ground while others are hung for convenience. This means that there are different types of chicken feeders, from basic containers to automatic chicken feeders. The needs of your chickens will determine the type of chicken feeder that you should purchase:
Basic Feed Dispenser
The common commercial chicken feed dispensers are made of UV resistant plastic. These feeders work well in dispensing dry feed from the enclosed container. The little built-in roof keeps the dry feed from getting wet when rain occurs. It is recommended to place any basic feed dispenser on a thick brick or concrete tile to help keep the feed free from potential debris.
A trough feeder comes in many sizes and is usually fixed to a wall. Fixing it to a wall makes it difficult for chickens to scratch the feed out by beak or by feet. It can also feed several chickens in a row. Being an open feeder, troughs allow easy refilling of chicken feed.
Open Container Bin
Similar to a trough feeder, an open container bin makes it easy for anyone to easily refill the feed because of its open feed bin. Along with other feeders, a through feeder can be a supplementary feeder.
Hanging feeder is relatively cheap and easy to set up. Because it is hung from the ground, potential rodents cannot get access to the feed. Most hanging feeders that you can buy come with rain guards that prevent the feed from getting wet.
This type of chicken feeder is designed especially for young chickens. Basically, it is a smaller version of adult-sized feeders. As chicks soon outgrow small feeders, it is recommended not to buy plenty of these.
An automatic chicken feeder operates on a treadle basis where the chickens step on a plate so that the feed becomes accessible. It is designed to keep rodents and critters away from the chicken feed. Compared to other types of chicken feeders, automatic ones offer several huge benefits. For one, it makes a reliable feeder in times when you have to leave your chickens for long periods of time.
TYPE OF FEED
There are chicken feeders that cannot hold other types of feed. Make sense of the different varieties of chicken feed and check whether or not the chicken feeder that you are eyeing to purchase can support such feeds.
As an important factor in selecting a feeder for chickens, the design of the product will add to cost reduction. For instance, hanging feeders are great for saving floor space and reducing waste in the feed. Because of its position, chickens are less able to scratch the feed. The most consumed chicken feed is starter chicken feed, grower chicken feed, layer chicken feed, pellets, mash, crumble, shell grit, chicken scratch, fermented feed, and broiler varieties.
The most popular chicken feeders are made of plastic. Plastic has somehow become the standard as far as poultry accessory is concerned. Some feeders in the market are not made of non-porous, chemically resistant, and non-rusting plastics, so choose wisely.
The durability of the product is very important as chicken feeders are usually placed outdoors for most of the time. In selecting a feeder for chickens, choose the one that is durable enough to withstand heat and rain.
The problem with some feeders is that there is a lack of stability. Part of selecting a feeder for chickens is to consider the one that is a bit heavier on the side so that the chickens will not be able to knock it over. This helps prevent waste in the feed.
Safety is usually overlooked, and many fail to realize that some chicken feeders have sharp edges that could hurt the chickens while feeding. Therefore, check the chicken feeder first in all angles before making a purchase.
At the end of the day, budget should be one, if not the most important aspect in selecting a feeder for chickens. Some chicken feeders are very expensive, while some are practically cheap. Whatever chicken feeder you choose, always put in mind that the overall performance of the feeder and its features should be a defining factor.
As mentioned earlier, using a chicken feeder is preferable than merely putting the feed in the ground using your hands. The advantages of using a chicken feeder are as follows:
- Feed Safety: Uninvited visitors like raccoons and rats are always on the lookout for accessing your chicken feed. Chicken feeders with locking mechanism and those that are suspended high ensure that only chicken heads can get inside the feed bay and nothing else. Moreover, chicken feeders that are resistant to rain keep the feed dry at all times.
- Feed Waste Prevention: The main sight when you use your hands to feed chickens instead of feeders is scattered feeds and grains. As a result, your budgeted feed will not be able to suffice for long. That is why chicken feeders like the automatic one stop you from worrying about feed spillage. Its design is such that your chickens will only get a regulated supply of feed per programmable feeding time. This rest assured that you save on feed costs.
- Cleanliness: Chicken feeders that are created to keep the feed safe under any weather condition. This eliminates the risks of moisture and germs in the chicken feed. Also, there are chicken feeders that do not allow the chickens to stand on trays that, in exchange, the feed does not get mixed up with soil.
- Easy Feeding: The main reason why chicken feeders are created is to lift up the work in chicken farming. With chicken feeders that offer several features, feeding time does not anymore feel like a lot of hassle.
Where can I purchase quality chicken feeders?
If you want to make sure that you get the chicken feeders that are made of approved plastics, purchase from a reputable company. You should understand that only trusted stores can offer you safe and quality feeders.
Are DIY chicken feeders safe?
You can make your own chicken feeder from all sorts of things, but even when your DIY chicken feeders are beautiful and creative, there is no assurance of safety. Unless you are wise enough to be able to create a chicken feeder that does not let water and other contaminants in or a chicken feeder that cannot be tipped over and defecated in, then the answer is yes.