Now I love going to let my ladies out of the coop each morning and giving them breakfast. They are always pleased to see me, mainly because they were awake 2 hours before I got there, but also because they know its feed time! Having chickens is so rewarding beyond them just producing amazing eggs.
But there are just some mornings that I can’t get over to them, sometimes things just get in the way. We have a lot of moving parts on our farm and sometimes its nice to have some automation.
What do I mean by that, well, when the chickens can just…help themselves to breakfast!
Infact having an automatic chicken feeder means they can help themselves to breakfast lunch dinner and snacks in-between.
Does this sound like your perfect set up?
Why buy an automatic chicken feeder?
- They can eat whenever they want to eat – total freedom. All you have to do is top it up
- Keeps out the vermin – rats especially can be an issue around any chicken coop
- Keeps waste to an absolute minimum
Let’s run through that last point, as when you have even just a small flock problems like waste are a big issue. Firstly I hate waste – of anything (food, water, gas especially money)!
Im going to run through a cost exercise, let’s assume you have 6 chickens eating on average 3.5oz 100g per bird per day. Say just 10 percent…
Over a year that’s 46lbs (21kg) of feed wasted – now that’s anywhere between 20 and 50 bucks! Now let’s say 25 percent is wasted which is more realistic in my opinion, you can now more than double those figures.
Now im not perfect either, I tend to use a trough and they do scratch out less but they still do manage to do it…..!
Side note – I actually like to scatter a small amount of feed too so they can scratch around and its gives them something to do. I’m honestly stopping that, I must be wasting more than I realized…
All that waste, it’s just money down the drain but it also literally feeds a bigger problem.
What happens to the wasted feed?
The vermin eat it and they have an absolute feast! Even the wild birds join in on the action. They then help themselves to a drink from the waterer and off they go, happy and contented – at my expense.
The really bad news is they spread diseases wherever they go. Rat urine is so bad, it causes leptospirosis within humans it’s a horrible bacterial disease.
Just 5 rats will eat over 6 ½ lbs (3kg) of YOUR chicken feed, in a month, that’s staggering! When there is a good food supply the rats will breed, they can produce offspring in just 21 days. So in under a month your 5 rats have turned into 10-20! And so it continues…
Eurgh, I don’t like rats, even talking about them makes me uncomfortable but the takeaway message should is clear:
Reduce waste – keep the vermin out!
Good return on investment
So investing in an automatic feeder will return its value in a short space of time by saving waste and will keep your chickens healthy with no vermin around in the process! Add in the fact that its so convenient to top up the feeder and leave it for days knowing the chickens are happy and can feed whenever they like. It’s a win win.
So then I’d say yes, it’s a good return on investment as its money well spent.
So let’s see what the best automatic feeder are out there…
Let’s start with automatic feeder royalty, the one everyone has heard off:
Grandpa’s Chicken Feeder
How does it work?
Chickens step on the treadle which is the floor lever and the roof over the feed opens. Its that’s simple, not too many moving parts that they will break either. Infact the whole thing is made of galvanized steel, meaning it will last an age. Infact it comes with a 24 month money back guarantee, that’s how well this thing works.
The added bonus of being completely steel is it has no parts that can be chewed through by rats or squirrels.
How much feed can it hold?
It can hold 20lbs (9kg), this will keep a flock of 6-12 chickens fed for about 10 days. Great if you’re going away to visit family at weekends or on vacations. It just means you haven’t got to worry. Just fill up and forget.
…what do I like about it?
Honestly all of it, waterproof galvanized steel that won’t rust, and has a superb lifespan, I’d expect 15+ years from this, seriously.
It also can’t be knocked over or poop’d in and can be left outdoors. But what I really like is the ‘anti flick’ grill.
Because you can do all the above and chickens will still throw their food around and some could still get wasted on the ground. Not with this grill as it makes sure they cant. Neat!
Miller Little Giant [25lb]
Holds 25lb so great if you have a large flock, it has the ‘anti flick’ dividers in the feed area. It’s cheaper too but doesn’t have the treadle feature like the Grandpa Feeder but it has most of the benefits including:
- Galvanized non rusting steel
- Robust design that will last a long time
- Water tight
- Easy to use and chickens are used to it immediately
Overall Review: Holds alot of feed, brilliant for large flocks or if you don’t want to have to regularly top it up.
The feed is on show unlike the grandpa feeder which has the closed lid, so this would work best away from wild birds and vermin, perhaps inside the coop. It has a very sturdy design making it near impossible to knock over, which is a bonus for upright feeders.
‘Rent a Coop’ Feeder Buckets
These aren’t completely auto chicken feeders I hear you cry, and you’d be right; but at half the price hear me out..
- Available with a water tight ‘no roost’ ‘coned shaped’ lid. As what chickens do is pretty much walk or sit on anything.
- Can be hung up [or be placed on the floor] its versatile
- Both chickens and ducks can use it
How do these it work?
How much feed does this hold?
20lbs, so again will keep a flock of 6-12 fed for over a week.
Who is this for?
For all budget conscious flock keepers, especially great if you have young chicks that aren’t heavy enough to operate a treadle style feeder. Also perfect if you like to hang you feeders and your chickens are used to this method.
What do I say: Its plastic so don’t expect the lifespan of steel but it’s actually a good design with good reviews, I like that it can be hung up too.
Like PVC? Check out this next one below
PVC Automatic Chicken Feeder
It’s a gravity feeder technically, but people love the simple easy clean sleek design.
- Perfect for a smaller flock of 1-6 chickens [holds 6.5lbs (3kg) of feed]
- Can be affixed to a wall, fence or inside the coop with the included brackets
- Chickens get used to it straight away, no training required
What do I say about it:
The feed is still ‘open facing’ making it potentially accessible to vermin wild birds. So its best used inside the coop to keep it totally safe. If mixing feed, corn and pellets, the corn all falls to the bottom…
Moultrie Auto Poultry Feeder WITH Timer
This is a 5 gallons (22L) all in one feeder. The system is great for
- Setting up 4 different feed times per day using the digital controller
- The eco conscious, as standard it runs from batteries OR can be powered by solar!
- Regulating the amount of feed your hens are eating per day
Rating: Well worth a look, it has some great reviews. It’s very versatile and could be used for chickens, ducks, quail or any water fowl. I like the fact you can programme the feed times.
The Best Automatic Chicken Feeder
It does depend on your exact requirements but for me it’s Grandpa’s Chicken Feeder.
How chickens feed is by pecking each individual pellet or piece of corn etc. Imagine that over and over times by 6 chickens or however many you have. Plastic can get pecked to death and crack it also gets brittle when left in direct sunlight or exposed to the extreme cold. Galvanized steel has none of these issues.
Grandpa’s Feeder is a bullet proof design I can’t fault it. It really is worth the money, I hear stories of these lasting for 20+ years. Our metal trough feeder is probably 40 years old and still going strong.
The point is metal outlasts plastic, there is no contest.