7 Best Chicken Feeders: Buyer’s Guide To No Waste Feeders

7 Best Chicken Feeders: Buyer’s Guide To No Waste Feeders

For most people, finding the best chicken feeders may seem like a reasonably easy thing to do, and in many ways, it is. But there’s different factors to consider before buying one.

 

In this buyer’s guide, I’ll show you the best chicken feeders, and factors to consider before you make a purchase.

 

 

Best Chicken Feeders: A Buyer’s Guide

 

** Top 7 Feeders We Recommend **

The best feeder for YOUR chickens largely depends on your flock.

 

For example, your chickens may be prone to knocking over water, fighting over feeders, and pooping all over the place. You also might work a lot, and not return home until well after dark.

 

The best, and most appropriate, feeder addresses these quirks, and helps you raise healthy chickens.

 

Where can I buy a chicken feeder?

You can buy chicken feeders from an array of locations near your hometown and even browse through an extensive selection online and have it shipped right at your door.

 

  • Amazon (ships nationally)
  • Your local farm store
  • Tractor Supply (nationwide locations)
  • Orschelns (locations in the midwest)
  • True Value (nationwide locations)

 

Why do you need a chicken feeder?

Chickens aren’t at all fussy when it comes to eating – in fact, most hens couldn’t care less if you dumped their food on the ground.

 

But the mess they create – and the vermin it attracts – means it’s easier to just invest in a reliable way to offer food to your flock.

 

A quality chicken feeder cuts down on food waste (which eases the strain on your wallet), and ensures your flock is properly fed at all times.

 

It’s also more hygienic, and reduces the likelihood that your fluffy butts will pick up bacteria from exposing their food to their own waste.

 

Bear in mind that you also might need multiple chicken feeders, especially if you have a large flock or bullies. One per 6 hens is usually adequate.

 

What to consider when choosing a chicken feeder?

When perusing options on Amazon or at your local farm store, keep the following questions in mind:

 

  • Are your chickens baby chicks or layers?
  • How many chickens do you have?
  • Do you have bullies?
  • Are your hens super messy (or do you hate messes)?
  • Do you work all the time?
  • Or, do you worry they won’t have constant access to feed?

 

This is so you can estimate the size and quantity you’ll need, as well as what features your new feeder should have.

 

Some other things to think about:

 

Strength

How much weight can the feeder hold? How much will you feed at a time. For example, if you’re planning to put 20 pounds of grain into it, make sure that weight won’t be too heavy.

 

Will the your flock’s food stay dry and fresh?

Wet and/or moldy feed can be prevented by buying a weather-proof chicken feeder. This reduces the chance your hens will eat grain full of mold and bacteria that can harm them.

 

** Best Weather-Proof Chicken Feeder **

 

Is it easy to clean?

This is especially important during summer because flies and maggots LOOOOVE old chicken feed. Note that even though metal is sturdier, plastic and PVC are easier to clean.

 

This prevents disease and abnormal eggs from being laid.

 

Are there any sharp edges or anything that can hurt your hens?

I don’t typically recommend chicken feeders that automatically close when your flock is eating. These feeders also have a tendency to tip over, causing waste and attracting rodents.

 

So, check out your potential feeder and make sure it won’t harm your flock.

 

** Safest Chicken Feeder **

 

 

How many feeders do you need?

This will depend primarily on the type of feeder. If you opt to use regular galvanized or plastic hanging feeders, then one per 6 chickens is fine.

 

However, as a precaution always keep an eye out that all your flock members are getting enough food.

 

How much should I spend on a chicken feeder?

You can spend as much or as little as you want. Chicken feeders can even be as basic as a dish or a bowl or as fancy as a golden automatic feeder.

 

If you’re on a budget, you can even fashion your own homemade chicken feeders, and there are many resources online.

 

Typically, you won’t need to spend more than a few dollars on a gravity or galvanized feeder, but automatic feeders can run a couple hundred dollars.

 

** Best Budget Feeder **

How often should I clean my chicken feeder?

A weekly clean up with warm soapy water is ideal. Grove Collaborative has wonderful all-natural cleaners that are economically priced and delivered to your door (on my first order, we got about $80 worth of free stuff).

 

You can use these in your feeders, waterers, and your chicken coop.

 

Plastic and PVC are easier to clean than metal, especially in the crevices.

 

Take note that if you buy a PVC feeder, thoroughly check that it is indeed easy to clean. Even though it’s convenient to have a chicken feeder PVC, some of the pipe feeders can be tricky to clean.

 

Should I hang my chicken feeder?

It’s entirely up to you. Hanging it keeps it cleaner because the chickens can’t poop in their dinner, and it keeps insects and rodents out of it.

 

Just remember that storing a lot of food in it will make it harder to hang well because of the weight. Always secure it to a stud or some other structural element that can support the weight.

 

How high off the ground should a chicken feeder be?

Your chickens should easily be able to reach their dinner. The point of hanging the feeder is to reduce waste, keep the feed clean, and provide a clean living environment for the flock.

 

You can also place the feeder on a cinder block to raise it off the ground.

 

However, if you have baby chicks, the feeder shouldn’t be off the ground at all as they won’t be tall enough to reach it.

 

Silkie chickens can’t fly well, so if you keep this breed, make sure they can reach the feeder, too.

 

Can it keep rodents out of my coop?

There is a possibility that it can prevent rodents from entering the coop because no-waste feeders mean that the feed doesn’t fall on the ground, and there’s no reason for them to enter the coop.

 

How do I keep rats out of my chicken feeder?

If you struggle with vermin, it’s best to use a feeder that closes right after the hens eat. Always make sure that the coop door is closed at night to stop rats and mice from entering and getting a free meal.

You can also spread herbs like PestsBGone to ward them off.

 

Do I need an automatic chicken feeder?

Like an automatic chicken coop door, having an automatic chicken feeder can make your life easier, especially if you work a lot and don’t have much time to visit your chickens, or worry that they won’t have constant access to their grain during the day.

 

Just check that it’s properly working every day, and remember that if they break, you will either have to fix it or buy a new one.

 

** Top 7 Feeders On Amazon We Recommend & Why **

 

Grandpa’s Feeders Automatic Chicken Feeder

Considered one of the best chicken feeders. Boasts a grill that stops chickens from throwing out food. Made from galvanized steel that’s built to last even during the toughest outdoor conditions. Keeps rats, birds, and mice away from feed. Can hold 20lbs of feed & can approximately feed 6 chickens for 10 days.

 

LITTLE GIANT Little Giant 17 inch Galvanized Hanging Poultry Feeder

A well-priced budget feeder that makes grain easy accessible.

 

Chicken Feeder Rainproof Outdoor -Metallic (25 LBS)

Rain proof and can hold up to 25 pounds of feed. Waterproof design, and can screwed into a wall or placed on a stand. Saves money by preventing costly feed from spilling.

 

Duncan’s Poultry 55 LB Chicken Feeder

Can hold up to 55 lbs of feed. Suitable for pellets, mash, and crumbles. Prevents roosting with a hinged gable-style lid. Made from heavy gauge galvanized metal.

 

Muddy Hill Farm Poultry Bucket Feeder for Chickens, Ducks Holds 20lbs of Crumbles, Pellet, Dry Feed.

Holds 20 pounds of feed. Includes a weather shield. Reduces feed waste. Easy assembly. Made from rubber & watertight.

 

Right Farm Products 20 lb Chicken Feeder

Can hold 20 lbs of feed. Good budget feeder. Made of heavy-duty plastic. Easy to refill.

 

Rent-a-Coop 20 lb Chicken Feeder

For chickens 12 weeks and older. (Younger/smaller chickens can crawl in the port). Weather-proof. Keeps out rats, mice, squirrels, and wild birds. 99% of feed stays in feeder. Holds 20 pounds of feed. Refill once every week for 8 hens.

 

Which is the best chicken feeder in your opinion? Leave a comment below!




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Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

T’is the season for pumpkins…but do you know why they’re so healthy for chickens?

 

Do you know how to safely feed them? How about how to get them for next to nothing?

 

Well, get ready and get on the edge of your seat, because you’re about to discover just how beneficial pumpkin can be to your coop AND your wallet this season.

 

In this podcast, you’ll learn:

  • Why pumpkins are a great addition to your flock’s diet (but why they shouldn’t REPLACE their diet)
  • How to safely feed pumpkin so your flock gets the most benefit
  • Where to find pumpkins for free and how to ask for them
  • My recipe for a fall spray to help keep your coop clean and smelling fresh

 

Links we discuss:

These are the essential oils I use

 

Wondering if you can feed pumpkins to your backyard chickens? You can, and here's why you should!

 

7 Natural Chicken Keeping Mistakes New Owners Make

7 Natural Chicken Keeping Mistakes New Owners Make

The second we got our farm, natural chicken keeping became a priority.

 

The egg itself is said to be the perfect source of protein, and chickens are so easy to keep that they make sense for any farm.

 

Natural chicken keeping also has the added benefit of saving you money, as long as you do it right (and there certainly are times when it’s best to not cut financial corners.)

We’ve saved by using fermented feed, herbs to keep our chickens healthy, and using food we could easily grow on our farm.

 

Buuuut….

 

We also made mistakes. 

 

At one point, we went 6 months with no eggs. That’s a huge bummer, believe me!

 

We’ve also had chickens stop laying in nesting boxes—and had to figure our way out of that one! (hint: placing eggs where you want them to lay helps!)

But we improved and got better.

 

Trust me, as a chicken owner, you will make mistakes (which you’ll learn from and get better from!)

 

As I’ve gained more experience in natural chicken keeping, and become a resource for new hen owners, there are certain mistakes I see time and again.

 

Here’s the top 7 natural chicken keeping mistakes that you can avoid—and the chickens you have hunting and pecking in your backyard will thank you!

 

1. Worrying too much about the GMO/Non-GMO debate

 

I frequently get emails from new owners who want to know whether they should provide non-GMO feed, or who don’t know what to do because they can’t afford organic non-GMO layer mash.

 

The bottom line is the quality of your hen’s diet is the most important thing. If you can’t afford organic, non-GMO feed, then just opt for what you can afford.

 

While people will tell you that natural chicken keeping begins with feeding non-GMO, organic feed, it’s also about using naturally-found herbs, fermented grain and vegetables, or even crafting your own feed to raise healthy hens.

 

It’s more important that you enjoy your “pets with benefits” and feel good about them—and if you’re stressing about not being able to afford organic feed, or if you’re putting yourself in financial distress over it, then keeping a backyard chicken flock won’t be any fun. 

 

Do your best, and enjoy the parts of natural chicken keeping that are within your budget and time constraints.

 

2. Getting a rooster so your hens lay eggs

 

Every so often I encounter new owners who believe they need a rooster to get eggs from their hens, and that roosters are a part of natural chicken keeping.

 

One of the nice things about owning hens is they’ll lay eggs whether a rooster is present or not—you only need a rooster if you want eggs to hatch. 

 

(If you’re wondering how chickens mate, it’s pretty wild.)

 

Getting a rooster isn’t a bad idea, and it helps your hens feel safer and completes their social hierarchy, but you definitely don’t need a rooster to start all natural chicken keeping.

 

Which is good news if your town doesn’t allow them!

 

3. Underestimating chicken predators

 

Every time I hear about a new owner who loses their flock to a formidable predator, I feel terrible for them. 

 

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than working hard to raise a natural, healthy chicken flock only to have it ripped apart in one night by a raccoon. 

 

I’ve found that a lot of new chicken owners don’t realize just how crafty predators can be, and how much energy they’ll exert to get a free dinner.

 

Part of natural chicken keeping is making sure your flock stays safe. 
Sometimes new owners think chickens will be fine left to their own devices, but hens are pretty much defenseless against chicken predators

 

Usually, they either run away or fly up away from predators. Other than that, they don’t have many natural defenses.

 

You might not realize that predators aren’t just wild animals—domestic cats and dogs can cast an eye at your flock.

 

We made the same mistake, until we started losing them to our dog! I’ll never forget the day we learned that our dog, who was so great with people, was a chicken killer.

 

So, even if you don’t have wild predators, remember that a secure coop and run will help prevent your flock from becoming a chicken chew toy.

 

4. Assuming chickens will fend for themselves and stay healthy

 

Probably one of the biggest mistakes I see is when new owners assume that natural chicken keeping means letting the hens forage for their own sustenance.  

 

Natural chicken keeping doesn’t mean allowing your hens to fend for themselves, and if you go this route, you run the risk of unhealthy hens, no eggs.

 

You won’t believe how many emails I get from owners who aren’t getting eggs and have no idea that diet is the issue.

 

You might also lose chickens to predators as they stray further and further from their home.

 

Sometimes I read advice that it’s natural to allow a chicken flock to feed itself because our ancestors did it, but it’s simply not true.

 

For example, what happened in the winter with snow on the ground and nothing growing? Were the hens foraging then?

 

Natural chicken keeping doesn’t necessarily mean throwing chickens in your backyard and forgetting about them until you want eggs, but it’s a common mistake I see new owners making.

5. Thinking oyster shells and grit are the same thing

 

When I read Facebook posts from people trying to explain natural chicken keeping, they frequently say something like “give your hens oyster shells or grit to help them digest.”

 

While you should offer both to your chicken flock, oyster shells and grit serve two different purposes.

 

Oyster shells are used as a calcium supplement so your hens can form healthy, hard egg shells. 

 

Without some sort of calcium supplement, your hen might become deficient in the mineral.

 

She then might start to lay soft shell or other abnormal eggs, or she might start drawing calcium from her own bones to lay natural normal-looking eggs.

 

Grit, on the other hand, helps your hen digest food, and without it, she might develop an impacted crop or even sour crop.

 

Your hen will swallow the grit, and it will make it’s way into her gizzard, where the stones will sit and help “chew” whatever food she’s eaten.

 

So, each serves a very different purpose, and shouldn’t be confused (but both are equally important for your chicken.)

 

6. Using vinegar to clean wounds

 

While vinegar works well in natural cleaning solutions, it’s not a good idea to use it in wounds. 

 

I do see this advice from time to time, and it’s a common issue in my area.

 

Even my vet asked me whether I use vinegar to clean wounds when I brought a rabbit to see her, and was relieved to hear that I don’t use it.

 

Vinegar doesn’t have the same bacteria-killing qualities as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, for example, and it simply won’t be as effective in preventing an infection.

 

You’ll be doing your chicken a disservice by using it.

Failing to learn about common illnesses and how to treat them

 

Although many of my readers DO try to learn about common chicken illnesses before getting a flock (and a hearty high-five to them!), many owners out there DON’T—and then use Facebook groups as a way to diagnose their chickens.

 

Similarly, about once a week I get a message over Facebook from an owner who asks me to diagnose their sick chicken—something that’s virtually impossible to do over social media.

 

While I feel for every flock owner out there with a sick hen, and it’s natural to want answers, don’t wait until you’re in trouble to learn about chicken illnesses.

 

There’s many natural remedies out there for common illnesses, but the time to learn about them is not when you have a sick chicken.

 

Learn about common ailments and how to treat them (natural remedies or conventional) before or as soon as you get your flock—life will get a lot simpler, and you’ll be better prepared to help your hen when she’s in trouble.

 

While as a new flock owner, you will likely make mistakes, natural chicken keeping is full of rewards—just give it your best shot!

I’d like to hear from you!

Is there anything on this list of natural chicken keeping mistakes you would add? Leave a comment below!

Do Ducks Molt? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Do Ducks Molt? Here’s What You Need To Know!

We all know chickens go through a molt every year, but did you ever wonder “do ducks molt?”

 

In short, yes ducks molt. In fact, they molt quite a bit every year – possibly enough to build you a whole new duck.

 

In fact, I’ve gone outside and wondered whether the drakes, hens, and young ones had a pillow fight the night before and didn’t invite me!

 

Do ducks molt? Here's everything you need to know!

 

You might even wonder how such a little bird can have so many feathers hidden – more on that in a minute.

 

Our hen Henrietta, a Khaki Campbell is molting presently – and she looks quite a bit disheveled. Not sleek and bright like the younger ducks in her pen!

 

Like chickens, ducks molt to replace old feathers with new growth, and they do it every summer. So, expect it to be an annual event.

 

How do ducks molt?

Ducks molt different than chickens, and in the main summer molt, both duck hens and drakes will lose feathers.

 

Chickens molt by losing them on their head, neck, and back, and then regrowing them in the same top-down pattern.

 

Ducks, on the other hand, just lose their feathers all over the place and all at once, including their primary ones. They’ll also scratch and pluck them out with their bills to speed things along or just relieve the itch.

 

Henrietta has been caught with bits of plumage all over her bill – she dunks herself in water to clean it off!

 

Do ducks molt? Here's everything you need to know!

 

You might also notice your ducks aren’t playing or interacting as much – again, this is normal. Henrietta has been staying a bit back from the younger ducks as she loses her feathers.

 

Additionally, drakes (male ducks) will undergo an additional molt after the spring breeding season has ended – they will lose their fancy colored plumage for duller colored feathers – this is an evolutionary adaptation that protects ducks from predators.

 

Why do they lose so many feathers?

As you probably know, in addition to their primary plumage, ducks also have a large padding of down feathers (the same down you’ll find in coats and other winter apparel).

 

So, ducks will also lose their down during a molt, which is why it can look like a crime scene in their pen – and you might take a headcount, wondering how a predator got into the duck house.

 

Rest assured, it’s just natural feather loss.

 

In fact, ducks lose their primary feathers (such as flight) all at once. In the wild, they will be flightless for about a month – no big deal since ducks are usually close to water, keeping them safe from predators.

 

This is less of an issue for domestic ducks, although the sight of it can be overwhelming. Just grab the broom and sweep them out.

 

As Henrietta has molted, she’s looks very disheveled, and her color appears mottled – this is a result of losing feathers as well as loose ones that haven’t yet been shed.

 

Eventually, glossy new plumage will appear, and the ragged hen will look sleek and beautiful again.

 

Just remember, that the length of time it takes to complete a molt will vary from duck to duck.

What about egg production?

While your ducks molt, you might notice the hens’ egg production goes down – this is normal. Like chickens, growing new feathers requires a lot of protein for ducks.

 

We’ve noticed that Henrietta is laying less, and when she does lay an egg, they’re smaller. Again, this is totally normal, and once she’s done molting, production picks back up.

 

If your ducks stop laying completely, don’t worry – it’s normal, and they’ll start again eventually.

What should you feed during a molt?

When your ducks molt, it’s a good idea to give them extra protein. You can give them more feed, or offer treats of dried mealworms floating on water (it also provides extra entertainment). Giving them high-nutrient treats such as kale or parsley will help as well.

 

You can also switch to a higher protein feed.

Is Chick Grit Necessary?

Is Chick Grit Necessary?

A common question I get is whether chick grit is necessary. And the answer is yes….and no.

 

It depends on a few factors, namely, whether your feeding your chicks treats, letting them forage, or feeding extra things like herbs.

 

Like older chickens, grit can help chicks digest their food. In fact, if you’re feeding anything other than chick starter, I’d say you 100% should provide your new mini flock members with chick grit.

 

Luckily, that’s an easy thing to do. In this article, I show you what your chicks should eat, what supplements can make them healthier, and when chick grit is necessary.

 

What is Chick Grit?

Chick grit is tiny rock fragments (naturally occurring rocks – nothing created in a lab) that have been broken down so they’re easier for baby chicks to ingest.

 

In nature, chicks will pick up rocks outside as they forage with their mothers.

 

If your chicks were incubated and/or live indoors (we keep our chicks indoors until fully feathered) OR if you feed your chicks anything other than chick starter, chick grit can be the difference between a well-functioning digestive system and one that might prevent your chicks from absorbing nutrients, eventually causing death.

 

What Should Chicks Eat?

For the full breakdown of what your chicks should eat, click here.

 

To summarize, your chicks should have 24 hour access to a high quality chick starter. I prefer to go with a commercial brand so I can be sure my chicks are getting the healthiest start possible.

 

Commercial companies put a lot of effort into making sure their feeds are properly formulated!

 

You CAN make your own chick starter (and organic chicken feed) however. Just be sure it has at least 18% protein so they grow into healthy backyard chickens.

 

To make things easier on yourself, however, especially if you’re new to chickens, going with a commercial blend takes out the guesswork. There’s plenty of non-GMO organic options out there.

Is chick grit necessary?

Medicated or Non-Medicated?

In the past, I’ve fed both medicated and non-medicated feed. Both are equally healthy.

 

The difference between them is that medicated feed contains an additive called amprolium that helps chicks develop a resistance to parasites (coccidia) naturally found in soil.

 

Yes, amprolium is a drug, and no, it’s not an antibiotic. It’s an anthelmintic, which means it helps prevent parasites.

 

These parasites can cause coccidiosis – a potentially deadly parasite infection.

 

It’s completely up to you whether you want to feed medicated or non-medicated start. Both have a place and your decision is individual to your flock.

 

If my chicks seem to do ok, then I might use non-medicated starter. If I’ve gotten chicks from a hatchery or they seem to have some health issue, then I’ll turn to medicated chick starter so I have one less issue.

 

To Ferment or Not To Ferment?

You can ferment your chick starter if you want to. Fermenting chicken feed is easy to do, and has a lot of health benefits.

 

Particularly if you plan to ferment their feed when they turn into adults, it’s a good idea to start young so they get used to the texture.

 

If you ferment the chick starter for 24 hours, it will have some beneficial bacteria in it and won’t turn moldy in that short of a period of time.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Something I ALWAYS give chicks is apple cider vinegar. I have a tutorial about how to make it yourself right here.

 

The beneficial bacteria in apple cider vinegar can help your chicks get a great start to life since it helps them establish good, healthy gut flora.

 

Ever heard of pasty butt? It’s similar to scours in young mammals like pigs, cows, and horses, or diarrhea in humans.  Let unattended, it can cause major health issues, including death, in chicks because their vents get clogged and they can’t defecate easily.

 

It can happen for a variety of reasons, and one big one is if their guts aren’t quite ready for life in the big world. Apple cider vinegar can help chickens avoid digestive issues and overall be healthier.

 

We found over the years that it reduces death rates in our chicks. So, it’s always in the first water our chicks get, and they love it.

 

Simply add it to their waterers and dip their beaks in very gently so they get a drink. I’ve never had a chick not take to it.

 

Herbs for Chicks

Now, before I begin this section, let me start out by saying that I’m not a fan of feeding chicks much of anything else except starter.

 

I like to be sure they’re only eating the healthiest food so they grow right and their bodies, feathers, and organs develop correctly.

 

That being said, I do have numerous readers who feed their chicks herbs so they’re healthier.

 

If you want to go this direction, then the best thing to do is offer simple, healthy herbs such as oregano or sage.

 

Oregano has strong antibiotic properties, while sage has properties that can help prevent parasites.

 

Most herbs for hens are okay, although I would stick with the two above.

 

Chick Grit

Finally, if you do feed your chicks herbs or allow them to forage outside, be sure to offer chick grit so they can easily digest anything they might ingest.

 

If they’re foraging and eat bugs or seeds, the chick grit will help them break down the hard shells so they can absorb nutrients from the goodies they’re eating.

 

You can offer chick grit as a preventative as well. When I offer chick grit, I mix it with their feed to make sure they taste test some. If you offer it separately, they might not understand what it’s about, and ignore it. It’s hard to ignore something in your feed!