9 Ideas To Feed A Flock So Every Chicken Gets Food

9 Ideas To Feed A Flock So Every Chicken Gets Food

A chicken’s gotta eat, right? Especially if they’re layers. They must have the calcium required to put the shells on their eggs. The trick is making sure that every bird in your coop is getting exactly what they need. How can that be done? 

In this article, you’ll discover some ways you can make sure each and every one of your chickens eats enough so they’re healthy. Here’s our best tips to help ensure that each chicken is filling their belly!

How Much Food Do Chickens Need?

For reference, one adult hen or rooster eats roughly 1/4 pound of feed per day. This amounts to about 1.5 pounds per week. For hens, you’ll want to provide a high-quality layer feed (this is the feed we use). It should be a complete feed, meaning it has the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals so your chickens stay strong. For pullets (female chickens that aren’t laying eggs yet), you should feed a 16% grower feed or you can continue feeding their 18% protein chick starter feed (this is the chick starter we feed because it has herbs).

For layers, it’s also very important to provide a calcium supplement. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “laying birds require 3.5%–6% calcium because of the nutritional demand for laying eggs (a typical egg requires ~2 g of calcium).” You can easily provide extra calcium with oyster shells, or even eggshells. 

Keep track of how much your chickens are eating. If you go to check on them, and there’s significantly less feed being eaten by the flock, it could indicate a problem. You can learn more about feed here.

Signs Your Hens Aren’t Eating Enough

Some obvious signs your chickens aren’t eating enough include:

  • Low weight/Easy to feel bones
  • Pronounced keel bone
  • Reduced egg production
  • Abnormal eggs
  • Disheveled feathers
  • Depressed personality
  • Keeping eyes closed

Low weight/Easy to feel bones

If you’ve noticed your hens have lost weight – maybe you pick them up, and they feel lighter, or you suddenly notice you can feel their thigh bones through their skin – it’s possible they aren’t eating enough. 

You might wonder how much your chicken should weigh. Truthfully, it depends on the breed. For example, Mille Fleurs weigh about 2-3 pounds, while Jersey Giants can weigh 10 pounds. In this article, you’ll discover the average weight for most chicken breeds. You can print it out and keep it handy. It’s always a good idea to keep records of how much your chickens weigh (to make it easy, we’ve created these downloadable sheets). Assuming they’re in good health, weighing your chickens monthly should be enough (if they’ve been sick, and you’re trying to get weight back on them, then you might opt to weigh them weekly.)

Pronounced keel bone

I personally use the keel bone (also called the breast bone) to keep an eye on my flock. If I pick up a hen and notice her keel bone is pronounced, she goes on a high fat/high protein diet (for example, black soldier fly larvae) until her weight is ideal. 

The keel bone is a good indicator of whether your poultry are underweight. Image is an illustration of a turkey skeleton.

How should the keel bone feel? Like there’s some padding on each side of it. You should still feel the bone itself, but it shouldn’t feel like there’s a dramatic dip on either side. If my hen “just feels bony” in that area, I get concerned. It’s a quick and easy test to check if your flock is getting enough calories. 

This is also an easy test regardless of breed. Every chicken, whether they’re a tiny Serama bantam or a huge Brahma, should have some substantial muscle on each side of their keel bone. 

Reduced egg production

Sure, this is something that comes with age. And for some chicken breeds, this happens as days get shorter. But if you can’t identify any other reason why your hens might have stopped laying (you can learn about all the reasons here), then she might not be getting enough calories. 

Imagine going to collect eggs from your hens on a beautiful summer day, only to find that one of them hasn’t produced anything. If it is a one-time occurrence, that’s not a huge problem. It’s something to watch, certainly. But not the end of the world. If she doesn’t lay over several days, on the other hand…you might want to bump up their feed. This is especially true if most or all of your hens stop laying.

A quick and simple fix is to offer layer feed around the clock. If you want, you can also add high protein & high fat treats.

Abnormal eggs

If your hens are laying, but the eggs are abnormally shaped, such as wrinkled or soft shelled, or if your established laying hen lays “fairy eggs,” this could be a sign that your chickens aren’t getting the necessary nutrients. (Fairy eggs are common for brand new layers to produce, but your adult layer shouldn’t be popping them out consistently). 

It takes a lot of energy to produce an egg. If your hen doesn’t get calories from her feed or from free ranging, she runs a higher risk of laying eggs with shells that aren’t smooth. It’s time to increase her feed. You can learn more about what different weird-looking eggs mean in this in depth article.

Feather damage 

Feathers are durable and tough, but damage to them is often the first indication of something that might be wrong (as long as it’s not molting season). Picking at feathers, or even out-of-season molting, could be a sign that your birds’ diets are not ideal. Additionally, if your hen has a disheveled appearance, for example if her feathers are broken or ruffled, she might be lacking important nutrients. 

Don’t confuse this with molting (although you should definitely provide a feather supplement during a molt). Chickens who lose their feathers and then regrow them can definitely look disheveled. However, this is expected, and occurs in the fall/winter. If your hen has an unkempt appearance at other times of the year, her diet might be the reason.

Depressed personality/Keeping eyes closed

Sometimes our hens seem “off.” They’re usually bright and cheerful. But if you enter their coop, and they just seem depressed and low energy, you might have a problem on your hands. Similarly, unless she’s trying to take a nap, your chicken should be interested in her environment. But if your chicken keeps her eyes closed – even after you rouse her – she might be sick. You’ll have to rule out illness first. If the vet clears her, then try increasing how much feed you offer, especially if you feel her keel bone (using the test above). It’s possible she doesn’t feel well because she’s hungry!

How Can I Help Every Chicken In My Flock Get Food?

Observation

This is kind of a bizarre tip. But it is nonetheless important. In fact, it’s pretty critical! Before you can figure out how to help chickens who aren’t eating enough, you need to know why they’re not eating enough! So, watch your chickens for a few hours. Figure out their social structures, and diagnose the problem that’s preventing some hens from eating. If you notice there’s some flock members who aren’t able to get to their dinner, you can troubleshoot ways to ensure that everyone is fed. 

For example, if you notice a very bossy hen keeps your little bantams from the feeder, you can add more feeders (more on this below).

Or, maybe you think you’re providing enough feed, but really aren’t. Maybe they run out after 10 minutes, and there’s nothing left for the weaker flock members.  But you won’t know unless you observe.

You’ll also get a better understanding of the eating habits of your birds. Pay attention to the amounts of feed that you’re putting into their feeders, or distributing on the ground, and you’ll get a sense of the amounts being eaten – or worse – not being eaten. 

I’ve found that observation is very important in my own coop. For example, my bantam Cochin hens love staying up in the loft in their coop. They don’t really like coming down. We used to have a lot of roosters in the coop. Staying above the crowd was safer! 

Now that there;s fewer roosters, they still prefer to stay above the fray at mealtimes. They just don’t like being overwhelmed. However, they don’t always eat as much as their flock mates. So, I take extra care to put a bowl of feed where THEY can access it. 

Similarly, my frizzle bantams are lower on the pecking order. They can’t really fly, and will crowd into a corner at mealtime. Having multiple feeders – and strategically placing them – keeps them full all the time. But if I hadn’t watched how each individual chicken acts at mealtimes, I would never know!

Only Keep As Many Chickens As You Can Reasonably Care For

This seems like an obvious thing, but chicken math is a real issue. If you suddenly end up with 100 chickens, you’ll probably have a hard time keeping an eye on all of them. Little problems can creep in and become big problems. For example, if you have a large flock, you probably have a pretty well-established pecking order. Your alpha chickens eat first, and the more passive hens eat last. It’s also possible your bossy brood won’t allow the weaker flock members to eat at all. Yes, it happens!

Only raise as many chickens as you can reasonably keep an eye on. This goes double if you’re a busy person who doesn’t spend a ton of time at home! You must monitor their health, and do a physical check regularly.

Money is another concern. The more chickens you have, the more money it costs to feed them. If you’re on a budget, just get a few hens. You’ll have an easier time making sure everyone gets enough to eat. Nothing is worse than stressing about how to pay for a ton of chicken feed every week! In our area, if we had to purchase a ton (literally 2,000 pounds) of feed, it would cost $200-$300 each week. And that’s from a grain mill (which typically charge a lot less), not a farm store like Tractor Supply. 

Hand Feeding

Hand feeding is a fantastic way to make sure that your birds are eating, especially if you have a friendly flock. By being in control of the dispensation of grains, pellets, and goodies, you can manage exactly which chickens get what. It’s also a great way to bond with your flock! Some treat options are layer feed, black soldier fly larvae, or other treats

Hand feeding chickens is an easy way to give them extra calories. It’s also an easy chore for kids, and a great way to teach your children about raising chickens.

The biggest drawback to this method of feeding is time. Hand feeding is incredibly time-consuming, especially when we’re talking about large flocks of hundreds of chickens. This idea is probably best with small flocks of 3-5 chickens. 

Multiple Feeders

Having multiple feeders is critical if you have a larger flock OR if you have bullies in your coop. I personally install 2 feeders for every 6 chickens. You can hang the feeders or simply use a bowl (we use a LOT of bowls because they’re easy to clean). For wall feeders, I personally like Duncan’s feeders because they’re durable and hold a lot of feed. I also use large dog bowls, rubber livestock bowls, and feeders that hang from the ceiling. If you’re interested, you can check out our complete list of recommended feeders. 

Look out for chickens who feel overly possessive and decide that the feed trough is theirs. These chickens will peck away any other birds (ducks included). In this case, a long trough or multiple dishes can certainly make it a challenge for the possessive chicken to peck everyone away.

I just distribute their layer feed among each bowl (this is the layer feed we use).

It’s also important to include some feeders that can be accessed from all sides. For example, if you use feeders that hang on the wall, your hens will only be able to eat on one side. But if you also have feeders that hang from the ceiling, your layers have multiple opportunities to eat their grain. It’s also harder for bossy chickens to chase away flock mates, because they’ll probably be too busy eating their own meal.

Trough style feeders make it easy to feed multiple chickens. Flock members can access the feed from both sides.

Hanging feeders off the ground also makes it difficult for chickens to kick dirt or mud into their food (feed that drops from the container, on the other hand, are fair game for dirtying).

If that doesn’t work for your flock, you can opt for long troughs. They’re easily accessible from front and back, which ensure that each hen has enough time with the feed.  You will probably have to clean them more often, but you’ll sleep better at night.

Even one-at-a-time feeders can promote even distribution of feed to all in the flock. Many are automatic or contain a pressure trigger that opens when a chicken steps on it. Over the course of a whole day, this ensures that feed is available to all. Whichever strategy you choose, it’s important to ensure an even dispersal of feed to all. The best feeders are those that can satisfy the needs of many birds at the same time. 

Not sure how to add multiple feeders to a smaller coop? One way to manage limited space is by going up, rather than out. If you create a triple (or quadruple) floored loft for your birds, you could set up feeding stations on each level. The chickens might develop a favorite feeding place, and refilling their feeders might required some creativity, but overall, this would be a very creative use of space. 

Scatter Their Feed On The Ground

Owners who want their chickens to have the full free-ranging experience can opt to distribute their birds’ feed right into the earth of the pen. This encourages the hens to root, peck, and scratch, all of which are very good for them. By spreading the distribution of feed all throughout the penned area, no single chicken can get all the goodies. Setting the flock loose in an exhausted garden can also accomplish this goal. Your chickens will tear up weeds, till the ground, and feast on any remaining produce. Chickens make for amazing gardeners – it couldn’t hurt to use them for a task they were built for!

One of the biggest drawbacks to this method is that can be quite messy, and your chickens might eat something gross. Chickens poop a lot, and if all of their food is on the ground, some of it is bound to get pooped on. Then, in addition to healthy bits, your layers will also get some unhealthy bits as well. Another drawback is bad weather. Not every backyard can be in lovely sunny 60 to 70 degree climates every day. Most yards will experience rain, possibly some snow, and both extreme heat and cold. All of this can create challenges. 

Separate Chickens Depending On Age & Need

Chickens need different feeds depending on their ages and purposes (for example, chicks vs. 12-weekers vs. 2-year-olds, broilers vs. layers). If you feed your chicks along with your layers, it’s likely your birds will get the wrong food. It’s simplest to keep adults and chicks separated. 

It will keep them eating the right food. Just ask any physical trainer, and they’ll tell you that what you eat is just as important as how you exercise. It is exactly the same for your chickens. It also reduces the numbers in your flock at mealtime. Smaller numbers mean more food for each individual. It ensures every bird has greater access to the feed that you’re giving them. 

Similarly, if you have some bossy hens who are overweight, and some very passive hens that are more scrawny, you might want to keep them separated at meal time. You can be sure each chicken gets exactly what they require to be healthy.

Not everyone has the space to separate their chickens depending on age. Luckily, we’ve provided an article on what to do in such a situation. The secret is balance. Ask “what’s the best feed for all the chickens in my flock?” You’ll probably decide on a 16% grower feed, as this is a decent balance between chick needs and adult needs. The hens will need a calcium supplement (which can be supplied separately), but at least everyone gets enough food. 

Variety

Just giving all of your birds chicken feed from a store can keep them eating, but it might grow old for them. Yes, this is really a thing! Imagine eating corn every day, in and out. You’d probably get bored too! 

By providing small amounts of treats, you’ll distribute all sorts of goodies and entertainment. You can try hand feeding their treats, and the variety will keep them engaged and happy. It also shows your love to them, and can satisfy certain needs that otherwise might be ignored in store-bought feed. Plus, it is just plain fun interacting with your birds this way!

Final Thoughts

While this article is designed to be preventative, rather than reactionary, a wise chicken keeper knows that their flock will need constant supervision. Chickens are incredibly social animals. Each one has their own personality, and sometimes their personalities get in the way of what is best for the flock, even in spite of your best efforts to keep them all healthy and hearty. Hopefully, it will never get to a point where your birds are visibly suffering, but in case it does get to that point, at least you’ve got these tips to help redistribute your feed to all.

3 (Easy) Steps To Feeding Healthy Day Old Baby Chicks

3 (Easy) Steps To Feeding Healthy Day Old Baby Chicks

If we’re going to raise baby chicks from day-olds to layers, we may as well start at the beginning – with what to feed baby chicks.

 

In this video, we’ve got a new batch of little cuties that were just born! The problem is what to feed them from now until they’re ready for more advanced cuisine. 

 

In this video, I’ll show you what I feed my newborn chicks.

 

  1. Feed
  2. The Mess
  3. The Bowl
  4. Dried Tiny Shrimp 

 

Feed

As soon as chicks are born, we feed them an 18% chick starter with herbs in it. It’s our own special blend. And the reason we feed that is because it has 18% protein in it. It has all the nutrients that they need to grow from being chicks to healthy layers. And we like to have the herbs in there because the herbs help them grow healthy

 

We started packaging this and selling it is because people ask me constantly on my website: Where do I get my feed? What do I feed? Why do I feed that? What herbs can I use?

 

Providing our mix to people just makes it easier for their chicks to access to the same things that I use without having to go through the rigmarole of mixing it themselves. (You can view our herbal chick starter here)

 

Why Mess Is Good

One thing you might notice is that it’s pretty messy in my brooder. The chicks get feed everywhere. That’s actually a good thing because it shows that they’re eating.

 

One of the biggest concerns I personally had when I first started raising chicks was whether or not they would actually eat enough to grow. If they don’t eat, they don’t grow, which is bad. The mess tells me that they’re eating and I’m happy with that. 

 

Feeder Options For Day Olds

When chicks are day olds, I use a small, low bowl for their feed. That’s very intentional.

 

I’ve tried other feeders for the first couple of days of their lives, but with the hundreds and hundreds of chicks that I’ve raised, I’ve noticed the chicks have a hard time finding the food in juvenile feeders. Right after they’re born, they’re disoriented and tired because it’s hard hatching.

 

A bowl where they can just walk on top of the food, makes it easier for them to find the food, and – most importantly – to eat

 

As they get older, I’ll switch to their bigger feeder (like I show in this video). As day olds though, they don’t really understand how to use the bigger feeders yet: you have to teach them. So for the sake of making sure that they are eating and are healthy, I just use a little dish. 

 

So obviously they really like their feed; the bowl is easy to use and they’re healthy.

 

Encouraging Chicks To Eat

Something else I like to give chicks during the first weeks of their life and really until the time that they’re adults are dried tiny shrimp. (You can see my favorite type here).

 

I like these because they’re tiny. They’re easy to crush and they’re full of protein and they’re irresistible to chickens of all ages. 

 

Especially in the first couple of days of their life, I’m very worried that my chicks are not eating as much as they should. Treats that are full of protein, like these dried tiny shrimps, make it almost impossible for chicks not to eat. They love them so much that they just swarm. 

 

All I do to feed them is just put them right in the dish. These treats are not in place of chick starter, it’s just a supplement and it’s just really to ensure that my chicks are getting as much protein and as many nutrients into their body as possible so that they grow healthy.

 

There you have it! My little day-olds and I hope you’ve gotten a good feel for a convenient and balanced starting diet to help your chicks grow as strong and healthy as possible.

 

Got questions? Got comments? Got suggestions? Leave a comment below

Best No Waste Chick Feeders

Best No Waste Chick Feeders

When you get baby chicks, you’ll notice quickly, they’re very messy with their feed. In this article, we talk about the best chicken feeders for no waste – and they’re all easy for baby chicks to use!

 

 

We all want our chickens to group up healthy and strong, and the best time to start them off right is when they emerge straight from the incubator. The trick is knowing how to feed your baby chicks so they stay healthy. 

 

This probably prompts you to ask “What feeders should I use for my baby chicks?”

 

The answer to this question is going to depend largely on what age your chicks are. The feeders used for day-olds might not be the same feeder that you’ll use when they’re 12 or 16 weeks old.

 

As they grow, chicks have different needs. We’re going to talk about the different feeder options for each of age group: 

  • Day olds
  • 4 weeks to 8 weeks
  • 8 weeks to 16 weeks 

 

(For adults, you can read about the best feeders here).

 

Main Takeaways:

  • You always want to use a feeder your chicks can reach
  • I use something small and easy for them to find when they’re a day old.
  • I’m not a fan of long feeders because they’re harder to open and I have to teach chicks how to use them.
  • Mason jar feeders are okay, and a good way to keep your feed supply clean.

 

Day-Olds

When they’re day-olds through the first week of their life, you’ll be concerned about whether they are getting enough food and whether they have 24-hour access to food. 

 

They are really confused and fragile when they first come out of the incubator. They need certain temperatures, so it’s really important to make sure that they have consistent access to chick starter and that it’s easy to find. 

 

There’s no evidence to support this, and this is just my own observation, but the first 24 hours of chick life is like newborn humans: they can’t see very well for the first couple of days. 

 

I think baby chicks have the same issue because while finding the feeder is instinctual, I’ve noticed that they’re very confused, especially in the first few hours after hatching through the first 48 hours. I’ve noticed that sometimes they can struggle a little bit finding the feeder, so I like to make sure that the feeders are really easy to find. 

 

I use low bowls or low pie plates. They don’t have much of a lip and they’re easy to find. We have even flipped lids to yogurts upside down (this works great for day old quail too). 

 

What I use also depends on the number of chicks I have. If we have a lot of chicks, we might use something that’s bigger or if we have three to five chicks, we’ll use yogurt containers for the first 48 hours.

 

You could also use mason jar feeders. Those are really good because they act as automatic feeders.

 

You can also use those long red feeders. I found for the first couple of days of life that they sometimes can’t find food in these very easily. They have to be shown how to use it. 

 

My chicks hatch, then for through day two, I’ll use yogurt containers. Day three and on, I’ll use the red automatic feeder. Or if we have a lot of chicks, I’ll use the pie plate, which is really easy to fill. 

 

If you read any book, they’re going to tell you to use the long red plastic feeders. I use them, but I don’t like these so much because they are a little bit tougher to open. Pie plates and yogurt tops are easier to clean and you don’t have to try to open them. 

 

These will work for the first four weeks. 

 

Four Weeks to 8 Weeks

For this age range, I tend to go for pie plates because again, they’re easy to clean; they’re cheap. After probably about week five or six, store-bought automatic feeders are harder for them to get food out of. The holes in these feeders accommodate baby chicks, but don’t as they become chickens.

 

As they get older, your chicks will wander around and forage food themselves. They tend to ignore automatic feeders anyways. Pie plates let them browse easily and they are easier for me to fill up. 

 

Eight Weeks and On

By the time that your chickens are eight weeks old, they are largely looking for their own food sources anyways. So, baby chick feeders are not really necessary. 

 

I really like this automatic feeder from Duncan’s Feeders – just be sure to install it low enough that your chicks can reach it. It’s durable, looks good, is easy to clean, and so easy to fill up.

 

This is just practical advice that I’ve learned over the years, and this is just my opinion about the best chicken feeders for no waste for baby chicks. 

Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder Review

Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder Review

For this review, Duncan’s Poultry sent us their 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder to test. It arrived quickly via UPS, and fully assembled inside the box.

 

Below are our first impressions and overall recommendation regarding this feeder!

 

(Want to see all the feeders we recommend?) 

 

Product Description

Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder is a galvanized steel automatic feeder meant to be hung up on a wall of your coop. 

 

duncan's poultry 30 lb feeder for chickens

Official image from seller

 

The website claims the feeder will hold 30 pounds of a layer mash, crumbles, and (possibly) pellets. The main body is stainless steel colored, and the lid is galvanized steel painted red.

 

The feeder is 15 inches by 8 inches, with an 18 inch depth (so, you can fill 18 inches up with feed).

 

The feeder is $59 on Amazon, which makes it an affordable option for all budgets.

 

Where to buy the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder

You can purchase this feeder on Amazon right here. The feeder has gotten great reviews!

 

What the company claims

  • Holds 30 lbs of feed
  • 15 Inches wide
  • Will fit between the wall studs
  • Hinged lid that stays open while you refill it.
  • Integrated lip helps cut down on wasted feed.
  • Works great with crumbles, mash or pellets 
  • Made of heavy gauge galvanized steel.
  • 14″ Wide X 8″ Deep x 18″ Tall.
  • Comes Fully Assembled

 

Our experience

We were pleased with the look of the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder right out of the box – it certainly is made of galvanized steel (which makes the coop look nice!). The top is painted red, and there’s a “Duncan’s Poultry” logo on the front.

 

On the back were two cut outs for the screws. It made it REALLY easy to figure out how to hang the feeder. 

 

Sometimes, the construction of an object can make it harder to hang – they can prevent the object from sitting flush against the wall, and cause the object to wiggle or be unstable. In this case, the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder hangs very sturdily, and doesn’t wiggle.

 

We tested the feeder with 30 pounds of our layer feed. Duncan’s feeders DO hold that amount, which saves us a lot of time (since we don’t need to fill it every day), and I can sleep at night knowing that if I can’t get to the coop ASAP in the mornings, the chickens still have access to feed.

 

Hanging it took just a couple minutes, and we were up and running within 5 minutes. Filling it with layer feed was very simple, and easy for one person to handle.

 

The chickens took another 5 minutes to figure out how to find the feed, and it’s been smooth sailing since. We’ve refilled the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder every other day, or every 2 days, depending on how hungry the flock is.

 

The top stays open during the entire refilling process, and it’s easy to close once we’re done. It’s not easy for a non-human to get it open, and we’ve noticed that the goat hasn’t been able to knock it off the wall, which is a HUGE accomplishment.

 

Does the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder live up to its claims?

YES! This sleek and modern automatic chicken feeder saves space, came fully assembled, holds 30 pounds of feed, and the chickens love it! They immediately knew how to use it (even the 10 week old chicks!), and it stood up to the ultimate test of whether the goat could knock it over or disassemble it 

 

(Other products we’ve reviewed were trashed in 24 hours by the goat, so this is saying something about the quality of the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder!) 

 

What don’t we like

Clean up might be a bit tricky. Unless your coop floor is dirt, it’s not really the best idea to spray the Duncan’s Poultry 30 LB Space Saver Wall Feeder inside the coop, so you will have to remove the feeder to spray it with a hose, or use cleaning wipes if you don’t want to remove it. 

 

There’s lots of little crevices, so be sure to pay attention to corners and lips where feed can get embedded and mold if not removed during cleaning.

 

Is it useful for chicken owners? 

We recommend this feeder for flock owners with less than 10 chickens in their flock. We’re impressed with how easy this feeder was to refill so our hens have consistent access to their mash. It’s a safe and time saving chicken feeder your flock will enjoy. 

 

If you have more than 10 chickens, purchase a second unit.

 

What to watch out for

If you have more than 10 chickens, it’s best to buy a second feeder. Because the width is only 15 inches, it’ll be difficult for every flock member to eat at the same time.

 

Note that if you want to use this with baby chicks (under 8 weeks), you will have to hang the feeder so it’s flush with the ground (which can attract bugs), and make sure the chicks know there’s feed in it. Because of this, we don’t recommend using it with chickens until they’re at least 10 weeks old.

 

There’s no cover for the lower lip where chickens eat from, so if vermin are an issue in your coop, they’ll get a free meal.

 

Summary

Duncan’s Poultry 30 pound hanging feeder lives up to its promises, and is a great addition to every coop. We give it 5 stars for design, usefulness, safety, durability, and ease of use! Our chickens use it daily and love it!

13 Chicken Feeder Ideas: No-Waste, PVC, & More!

13 Chicken Feeder Ideas: No-Waste, PVC, & More!

If you’re raising backyard chickens, then you’ve likely also come across the pesky problem of raising mice and rats. A good quality feeder solves unwanted food freeloaders and keeps your feed fresh and bacteria free. In this article, you’ll find DIY chicken feeder ideas that’ll keep your coop a clean and happy place for your flock.

 

Rats and mice are a problem because not only do they eat your chickens’ food, they leave droppings, attack young chicks, and spread disease.

 

So, keeping them out and away from your flock is critical.

 

Let’s go over what you need to know, and how you can make your own DIY no waste chicken feeder.

 

(If you don’t want to make one, here’s the no waste chicken feeders I recommend. There’s links to different ones on Amazon and they’re all high quality and affordable).

 

What Can I Make A Chicken Feeder Out Of?

Anything can be a chicken feeder as long as it can be removed from the coop for cleaning and it holds food.

 

But if you’re here, you likely want something more sophisticated AND that’ll keep pests away from your chicken feed.

 

A bowl is great, but it won’t keep mice and rats out during winter, when they’re more likely to try to build nests in the nooks and crannies of your coop.

 

It’ll also attract ants, and give your flock a way to throw their feed everywhere – making clean up a nightmare.

 

So, let’s look at different DIY chicken feeder ideas that you can try at home!

 

List Of Possible Materials For A DIY Chicken Feeder:

 

  • Wood
  • PVC
  • Tupperware bins
  • Repurposed food-grade barrels
  • Metal
  • Rubber

 

The possibilities are really endless – this is just a brief list of possible materials. You might even have them on hand if you build your own chicken coop!


We’ve found it easiest to make a no waste feeder from PVC, from parts sourced at any hardware store. Another easy option are the repurposed food-grade barrels. (See our DIY horse feeder tutorial here – it can easily be adapted for poultry).

 

In my experience, these are the two simplest chicken feeder ideas to implement.

 

While wood seems like a good idea, and it’s readily available, it’s not very easy to clean, and it can harbor bacteria in the grain.

 

If you have access to welder (a simple one is around $100 at hardware stores), a metal chicken feeder is great also.

 

5 Gallon Bucket DIY Automatic Chicken Feeders

Making a DIY chicken water feeder out of a 5 gallon bucket takes just minutes. This one is my favorite!

 

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”453691″ player=”19074″ title=”Make a DIY Automatic Chicken Waterer In 5 minutes%21″ duration=”187″ uploaddate=”2019-08-21 17:26:00″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/14575/thumb/453691_t_1566408354.png”]

 

While this video is about how to make an automatic chicken water feeder out of a 5 gallon bucket, this idea can very easily be adapted for feed.

 

It costs about $12, and will take 5 minutes of your time. 

 

Easy access to feed and water will improve egg production and lower the chances of your chickens developing bad habits like feather picking (which can easily be confused with chicken mites, so make sure they’re truly bored).

 

Click here for the tutorial for 5 gallon bucket automatic chicken feeder waterer

 

Here’s a second idea, using an an extra PVC component

Wood DIY Zero Waste Chicken Feeder

Wondering how to make a chicken feeder out of wood? This idea is good – but just note that it’s made out of wood. So, you’ll need to take extra care to clean it.

 

If you have wood hanging around, though, it’s very easy to make!

 

If I were to improve on it, I would add a second door at the bottom, so it can be shut at night to keep rodents out. (While chicken wire will keep most rodents out, keeping the feed closed at night will reduce the temptation to raid your coop, and reduce your mouse population.)

 

Get the tutorial here

 

Here’s a second idea that looks easy to execute

 

PVC Pipe Feeder

We recently built one of these for our chicken coop, and it’s an easy chicken feeder idea to execute.

 

You’ll need to decide whether you want to drill holes into a PVC pipe for individual feeding holes, or remove the top portion of the pipe for easy group access.

 

You’ll also need to make sure there’s enough holes for each chicken – so if you have a large flock, like I do, then making access as easy as possible will also make your life simpler.

 

PVC Feeder Idea #1 (group automatic feeder)

PVC chicken feeder idea

PVC Feeder Idea #2 here (multiple individual feeder holes)

PVC feeder idea #3 (single feeder hole)

 

DIY Rain Proof Chicken Feeder

If you want to locate your feeder outside the coop, then you’ll need to make sure it keeps the grain dry. Sometimes chickens can be picky about the texture of their feed, and might turn their beaks up at mushy mash.

 

Muddy feed also molds fast (and can shorten your backyard chickens’ lifespan) – so, it should always be a priority to ensure your chicken feeder keeps your flock’s food safe from the elements that could cause it to spoil.

 

The easiest way to execute this chicken feeder idea is to add a rain hood or cap onto a PVC feeder.

 

This idea is made from an old kitty litter bin. Just be sure to clean the bucket before using it (and clean the bucket more often than this author has)

 

Get the tutorial here

 

You can also try to make the PVC feeder below – this one has a rain hood you can find at any hardware store. The only caveat is that because of the rain hood, it can’t be closed – so rats can still get in.


However, it IS a no waste feeder. You will need to make multiple ones, however, if you have a larger flock.

 

Get the tutorial here

 

DIY No Waste Chicken Feeder Bin From A Tote

If you have a plastic tote (aka Tupperware bin) hanging around, you can make an easy no waste feeder from it. You’ll need to drill holes into it (2-3 inch holes) and add PVC pipes. You can use glue to hold the PVC in place.

 

It’s easy to clean, reduces food spoilage, and keeps your feed dry!

 

Get the tutorial here

 

DIY Hanging Automatic Feeder

DIY YouTube chicken feeders are easy to execute because you usually get step by step instructions. If you have a lot of time, and are handy, then this chicken feeder idea might be for you. Looking at the video, it feeds chickens a few grains at a time when they poke at a hanging element.

 

It’s clever, but I think it also can be improved upon. I personally would opt for one of the feeders above (but it might work well for your situation!), especially if you feed a mash (it looks like this will only work with pellets or a textured feed)

 

It’ll also certainly keep rats out of your food. For more intelligent and mischief-loving breeds, like Speckled Sussex, a feeder like this will entertain them for hours. 

 

 

DIY Baby Chick Feeder

For chicken feeder ideas for your chicks, here are some incredibly creative and simple chicken feeder ideas for you to try.

 

It’s always a good idea to keep plastic out of landfills! These look like they can me made in just a few minutes

 

I love how this one re-uses a yogurt container

 

Upcycled 2 liter soda bottle

 

DIY Chicken Feed Recipe

If you’re interested in feeding your chickens with organic and non-GMO feed that will keep them healthy and happy without costing you a lot of money then you’ll find this recipe helpful:

 

Get my best organic non-GMO chicken feed recipe here

 

Don’t want to make it yourself? You can buy my favorite 100% NON-GMO layer feed here

 

What Do You Feed Organic Chickens?

A high-quality layer feed with 16% protein and supplemented with nutrients is the best thing to feed backyard chickens. You can make your own feed using my layer feed recipe here, or find a high-quality non-GMO chicken feed here. You can also supplement their diet with table scraps, alternative chicken feeds like dried insects, and high quality chicken treats. It’s also critical to know what chickens can’t eat, like avocado and dried beans.

 

Here’s a brief table of what chickens can eat (not comprehensive):

 

Fruit Legumes Vegetables Seeds Proteins Dairy Grains
Berries Peanuts Spinach Sunflower Mealworms Milk Wheat
Cantaloupe Alfalfa Hay Tomatoes Flax Black Soldier Fly Larvae Greek Yogurt

(Plain)

Oats
Watermelon Peas Squash & Pumpkin Pumpkin Dried River Shrimp Cheese Rye
Bananas Clover Kale Hemp Eggs Whey Millet

 

You can also find a list of what chickens eat here.

 

Here’s a list of what chickens SHOULD NOT eat:

 

Vegetables Fruit Legumes Grains Other
Potato skins Avocado skins & pits Dried beans Dry rice Salt
Onions Apple seeds Uncooked beans Chocolate
Chards Peach pits Lots of sugar
Rhubarb leaves Coffee

 

Should I Hang My Chicken Feeder?

Yes, hang the chicken feeder to keep vermin out of it and so your chickens don’t poop in their grain. Be sure to at an appropriate height – 8 to 12 inches off the ground is best. You can also hang it about the middle of your bird’s back, if you think 12 inches is too high. In addition, by hanging your chicken feeders, you prevent vermin and predators from getting to the food.

 

How High Should I Hang My Chicken Feeder?

8 to 12 inches off the ground is best. You can also hang it about the middle of your bird’s back, if you think 12 inches is too high. Remember that some chicken breeds like Silkies can’t fly, and Cochin bantams and Sebrights are very short, so make sure your feeder is at the right height for everyone to get a meal.

 

How Do I Keep Rats Out Of My Chicken Feeder?

To keep rats out of your feeder, you’ll need to use a feeder that closes. Also store food away, and make sure to clean up any spills as they are likely to attract unwanted guests. You can check out my automatic chicken feeder ideas here.