We had rats getting into the chicken coop and eating a huge amount of chicken feed. I dislike vermin in fact the thought of it still makes me shiver so we knew we had to do something. We blocked up every hole – practically reinforced it till it was bomb proof. They still got in. Chewing holes in the side panels and now climbing in from the roof, they were relentless.
I had been told to get a grandpa treadle feeder, that they were totally awesome and my problem with vermin would just disappear. So I looked them up online, and saw a 2 year warranty, wow you don’t see that many places anymore. I also saw and like it was galvanized, perfect, it should last decades not months like some of our plastic/PVC feeders. But then I saw the price and thought no thank you. We live on a farm and I’m more of a build it yourself ‘kinda guy’. This is where I was wrong.
The Real Cost of Wasted Feed $ [Vermin – Wild Birds – Squirrels]
When we actually sat down and ran the sums we worked out that our chickens should be eating on average 3.5oz [100g] of feed per day. We had 12 chickens in that particular coop [we have several coops across the farm] so that should come to 36kg a month. Why then were we using 50kg a month and counting! Surely it can’t all be the vermin eating all that feed…
I had proof
I placed a camera in the coop to see what was going on during the night and sure enough it was the rats eating the feed. Plus a crow was filmed inside coop – during the day!
It was so frustrating as I couldn’t place down traps to catch the rats as my chickens walk all over the floor and I couldn’t risk hurting them. Not only were they eating the corn flung on the floor as chickens are messy eaters, they were helping themselves straight from the feeder.
The bottom line
So with the money I was wasting on feed I’d worked out it would mean the grandpa chicken feeder actually pay for itself! And it would do it in under 6 months. So I began to think of purchasing one, as more of an investment…
An investment or not, money is money and so I’ve put together a list of questions I wanted answering before I bought one and I’ve tried answering them as extensively as possible.
What is a treadle style grandpa chicken feeder and how does it work?
What is a treadle?
The ‘treadle’ part is just the word used to describe the lever.
How does it work?
It’s very simple, in front of the feeder is the plate that the chickens step on. As they step on it the lid covering the feed trough opens. As they feed the lid stays open but when they step off the lid closes automatically behind them.
This means no free lunches anymore for rats, mice, wild birds, squirrels…the list goes on!
Can just 1 chicken operate it?
Yes one chicken [Bantam or Standard] sized can operate it.
How many chickens can use it at the same time?
3 full sized chickens can use a grandpa feeder perfectly comfortably.
Is it waterproof and can it be used outside?
Totally waterproof and it wouldn’t be worth buying if it wasn’t. I’ve never had an issue with any feed being spoiled by water ingress and man do we have some rain where we live!
Is Grandpas chicken feeder automatic?
Yes, you can ‘fill up and forget’ as it holds over a weeks’ worth of feed for 12 chickens. That’s great for us as we have a busy farm [the chickens are just our pets by the way we aren’t a commercial homestead or small holding.] Having a feeder than can be topped up weekly and then the chickens can be left to it is awesome.
Next on my list is to install an automatic waterer, I can have that coming in straight off the main water supply, then that’s another thing off my mind. Anyway that’s a job for another day.
Can chicks use a grandpa feeder?
No. Put simply, chicks are not heavy enough yet to operate it.
What weight is required to open the feeder?
The standard feeder requires 14oz [500g] to open it [perfect for young chickens or bantams.]
The large feeder requires 2lbs [900g] to open it [for reference a mature leghorn chicken weighs 7.7lb or 3.5kg]
Do chickens need training to use a grandpa chicken feeder?
Yes and no. Some may do, but most wont. Chickens are copy cats if they see another chicken doing something and there is food involved, they are straight onto it!
How to introduce chickens to Grandpas Feeder
My flock mainly feed during the morning so one morning I actually had the lid left propped open for the first 10 minutes. They all ran over, of course and fed from it with no issue. This showed them where the food was and showed them it’s safe to use.
Next it was their turn.
So I closed the lid and left them to it. It literally took 5 seconds before one of them ran over, stepped on the plate and the lid on the feed lifted. One more ran over to join her and then they needed no more introduction…
I did have to show our docile Silkie how it works with a one-on-one tutorial. I placed her on the floor plate and she watched the lid open, then took her off and she watched it close. Ran through that again and she was fine.
Which breeds does it work best for?
All breeds. Any chicken breed can use a grandpa feeder. Alert, active birds do get the hang of it really quickly especially all of the ‘brown breeds’. I’m talking specifically here about your Isa Browns, Lohmans, Golden Comet, Red Sex links etc. No reported issues either with Rhode Islands, Welsummers, Polish, Marans, Brahmas, Orpingtons etc.
Word of caution – when introducing anything new to your flock and water is more important than feed, just ensure they are all happy and can’t use it with no issue.
Can you use a grandpa feeder with different feeds?
Yes. Mash, Crumbles, Pellets, Seeds Nuts and more. Here, it actually has merit over the more gravity style feeders let me explain why. So a bit of background we produce all our own corn on the farm and that along with layers pellets makes up the majority of the chickens feed. But we also mix in some seeds and nuts.
Using the traditional gravity feeder method all the smaller bits fall to the bottom. That’s usually all the good bits!It’s like a cereal box all the smaller bits are at the bottom of the packet and you get them last or its just dust! With a Grandpas everything is available to hens in more of a uniformed manner great for keeping a balanced diet.
Is there any draw backs using a treadle style feeder?
Yes and you can accuse me of being slightly petty with this point. With ‘other style’ feeders, chickens can feed from all round the outside but with a treadle feeder they can only feed from the front. So less chickens can feed from it at the same time.
Grandpas feeder ‘vs’ other treadle feeders
- Grandpas were ‘first to market’. They saw the feeding issues backyard flock owners had and solved it. So they have been around since the start and have built a good reputation and have really great reviews.
- They have a 2 year no quibble guarantee! Again, that’s something you don’t hear every day a 2 year guarantee shows the trust they have behind this product. Do you even get a 2 year guarantee on vehicles anymore..? Put it this way no other treadle style feeder has a 2 year guarantee.
- They have good customer service, I had a query and they had a quick and knowledgeable response. Again maybe you’d call that old fashioned to now to say ‘good customer service’ as most people go online and just moan, but I like grandpas approach here.
- They are made with tough materials and have a solid design meaning a good lifespan. They have a non-slip floor and come requiring little assembly, which is an extra bonus.
Other brilliant features on all Grandpa feeders
These are the thin metal bars that you can see sat inside the trough ‘feeding’ area. This stop chickens from pecking a piece of feed and then discarding it from one side of their beak. This piece would usually end up on wasted on the ground. They do this searching for the piece of feed they ‘like the look of’ it’s an annoying trait as it results in so much waste – well this no longer happens with a grandpa feeder. Its honestly is a huge feed saving design.
Those upright metal plates on either end are to stop the chickens feeding from the side and being injured from the closing lid.
If a chicken is on the base plate at the front and happily feeding and another one tries to come in and eat from the side – it cant. And you want that as what could have happened is the chicken that was feeding correctly at the time, finishes feeding and steps off, but the chicken feeding incorrectly from the side could have its head injured by the closing lid. So the galvanized metal divider plates are the perfect safety feature here to prevent injury and stop any misuse.
Another point about vermin you may find useful…
I had no idea at the time that Scaly Leg Mite and vermin, namely rats, were connected in any way shape or form. I got the benefits in terms of the money saved by keeping rats out the coop and run, those benefits I’m still enjoying now.
[By the way if you’re not sure what scaly leg mite is or how it affects chickens check out our Scaly Leg Mite Symptoms and Treatment Page.] In short though it’s a mite that burrows under the skin of chickens’ legs and feet [despite the name it can affect their comb and wattles too.]
It’s very painful and causes the leg scales to harden and raise up. It’s agonizing for chickens and they find it hard to walk and left untreated they can succumb to death. Rats carry the Scaly Leg Mite! [so do wild birds]
I knew rats will urinate where they eat and that urine causes Leptospirosis in humans but didn’t know anything further than that. The grandpa feeders just put a complete stop to vermin I could go on and on but it’s as simple as that.
How many feeders do I need and where can I buy a grandpa feeder?
One feeder for every 4-6 chickens is the golden rule
Always try and buy from your local poultry store to support them if you can however I’ve found Amazon to have the best prices.
I hope this guide to Grandpas Chicken Feeders has helped!