Today’s subject is automatic chicken feeders.
Automatic feeders offer several huge benefits over traditional (gravity) feeders; firstly they help reduce waste and secondly, they keep the feed fresh for longer.
What’s not to like?
They have been around for a while now, so in this article we are going to look at what options there are for your hens.
After reading this article you will know all there is to know about automatic chicken feeders so you can make sure you get the right one for your flock.
Our Pick: Automatic Feeder
What to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Feeder?
The first thing you need to consider is the size of your flock; this will determine the size of the feeder you want to purchase.
Remember that each hen will eat ½ cup of food each day.
You will also need to consider why you need one:
- Is it to cut down on the number of times you refill the feeder?
- Is it to prevent vermin from accessing the feed?
- Are you planning to go on vacation?
You also need to consider the ease of set-up and operation; both for yourself and the hens. This will include the amount of time you will need to spend training the hens to use it. It’s no good buying an expensive feeder if the hens can’t or won’t use it.
Once you’ve made clear why you want one, you will be better placed to buy a suitable automatic chicken feeder.
|Grandpa’s Automatic Chicken Feeder||Automatic||
|RentACoop’s Treadle Feeder||Treadle||
|Miller: High Capacity Poultry Feeder||Semi- Automatic||
|RentACoop’s Chicken Feeder Bucket||Bucket||
|Royal Rooster: Tube Chicken Feeder||Tube||
Types of Automatic Chicken Feeder
Automatic Chicken Feeder
Grandpa’s Feeders have been around for 20 years, so they have experience! Their feeders are durable, all metal construction and waterproof.
The feeder operates on a treadle basis; the hen steps on the plate and the feed becomes accessible to them in a trough area. Once your hens get the hang of it (and they do have training tips and videos), you can fill it up and forget about it for a while.
The feeders come in two sizes (20lbs and 40lbs), with the 40lb variety lasting a flock of 12 for up to around 7 days between refills. It is designed to keep out rodents and other critters away from the chicken feed; so it will help reduce waste and keep pests away.
This item is similar to Grandpas’ feeder but around half the price. The reason it is cheaper is because it isn’t entirely built from metal; it has several plastic sections.
However it is still watertight.
In addition to the feeder, they do provide instructions and training videos on how to set it up and train your hens.
They have four sizes available: 11lbs, 17.5lbs, 26.5lbs, and 44lbs.
For a flock of 12 hens you should get either the 26.5lb or the 44lb feeder.
|THE BEST CHICKEN FEEDER BUCKET|
|RentACoop’s Chicken Feeder Bucket
Whilst you wouldn’t class this a true automatic treadle feeder, it costs about half the price and offers a lot of the benefits still.
It has a 20lb capacity and can be purchased with either 1 or 2 feeding ports. We would always recommend you get 2 feeding ports; this reduces the chance of any bullying.
This means that it keeps the feed dry all year round, however it doesn’t prevent pests getting access to the feeder.
If you are getting an automatic feeder to eliminate pest problems then you’re better off with either Grandpa’s Feeder or RentACoop’s Treadle Feeder.
Semi-Automatic Poultry Feeder
This product is essentially a large feeder (25lb) suitable for inside use only. It is all metal construction and is one of the most affordable automatic chicken feeders around.
Unfortunately though, as with all other gravity style feeders, there is no way to keep rodents out of the feed.
We would only recommend this feeder if you have a secure inside location to store it and don’t have an issue with pests.
So again if you are having pest problems try a true automatic feeder listed above.
Pail Chicken Feeder
This feeder works on the demand of the chickens. The ‘hopper’ is a 5 gallon pail with lid (not included in kit) in which you put the feed.
The Peck-o-matic device is installed underneath the pail and is activated by the chickens pecking at it and releasing food.
It would probably be ideal for a flock of 4-6 hens, but any more and I think they would get frustrated waiting to eat – not really suitable for the morning feed time but perfect for snacking.
It reduces waste by releasing a small amount of feed at one time, that’s great because we all know how fastidious chickens are!
Tube Chicken Feeder
|THE BEST VERTICAL CHICKEN FEEDER|
|Royal Rooster: Tube Chicken Feeder
Whilst not considered a ‘true’ automatic feeder, the Royal Rooster chicken feeder is essentially a combination of a gravity feeder and an automatic feeder.
It is a tubular feeder that is capable of holding around 6lbs in feed.
The plastic is UV resistant, has a slim profile and comes with a hook and brackets if you need to mount it.
This feeder is an affordable alternative if you have a small flock of no more than 6 or so.
3 Reasons to Buy an Automatic Chicken Feeder
There are three really outstanding advantages that automatic chicken feeder offer over a regular feeder.
With automatic feeders the feed is stored inside the feeder; so you eliminate waste because it reduces spillage and stops it spoiling in the rain.
The treadle type feeders do the best job of keeping vermin away.
Perhaps the biggest advantage here is that it prevents wild birds from accessing the feed as they won’t know how to operate the automatic feeders. This will cut down on the risk of your hens catching a disease.
Having a reliable feeder makes going away for a few days much less stressful. However, if you’re planning on leaving your hens for a long amount of time you should still get someone to come and check in from time to time.
Alternatives to Automatic Chicken Feeders
If you don’t have the money to buy an automatic feeder there are still several other options for you.
The simple gravity/hanging feeder will suffice for most people.
They aren’t very expensive so it means you can place several around the coop and run. This will mean your entire flock can access feed without the need to worry that a bully hen is blocking access to the feeder.
The hanging feeders come is a variety of sizes, even up to 50lbs. They are easier for hens and people to operate and have no feed flow problems.
Whichever feeder you decide to buy you need to make sure that it is going to be reliable and consistently work well.
When you first move your hens over to an automatic feeder, they will likely need some encouragement. Give them a bit of time and they will get the hang of it.
You should keep a close eye on them and test it for a couple of months to ensure it is problem free before going away on vacation and hoping it will work!
We hope that this has helped you in the search for a better feeder for your flock.
If you have any experience with these feeders, let us know in the comments section below…