Chickens scratch everywhere they can when feeding. This will include the chicken feeder. If the feeder is not made in a way that prevents waster, the feed will be scattered all over the floor. This will lead to wasted feed.
Chicken feed accounts for 70% of the cost of keeping chickens. It is this feed that chickens convert to meat and eggs. Wastage of chicken feed implies that money will be wasted, signifying wasted meat and eggs.
Zero waste chicken feeders, also known as automatic chicken feeders are meant to minimize the loss of chicken feed due to chickens scratching, rodents, birds, or from the elements such as rain and snow.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why chicken feed is wasted
- 2 How to stop chicken feed wastage.
Why chicken feed is wasted
Other than chickens wasting the feed, other reasons lead to loss of chicken feed. These include:
- Chickens scratching
- Rain and snow
Feed Wastage due to Chickens Scratching.
Chickens scratch when foraging. This is an intuitive action that they inherited from their ancestors. When there was no one to feed them, the chicken ancestors used to scratch the ground to expose bugs and plants. They would scratch on anything, just to check if it is edible or hiding feed underneath it.
Modern chickens still scratch. This habit occurs even when the feed is full. When feed is placed on the bare grounds chickens will still scratch it even though it is fully visible. When chickens scratch on open feeders, feed is wasted when it drops to the ground. This calls for feeders that prevent chickens from scratching on feed.
Feed Wastage due to Rain and Snow.
If you feed chickens outside the coop, chances are that the place where you place your feeder is not protected from rain and snow. If snow or rain gets into the feeder, the chicken feed gets wet. As the water runs through the feed, soluble nutrients are lost. Another issue with the geed getting wet is the development of mold. Mold is dangerous to chickens as it leads to diseases or lowered immunity, exposing the chickens to dangerous disease-causing organisms.
Snow will not only get feed wet but also prevent chickens from accessing the feed underneath.
Having a rainproof chicken feeder that prevents rain and snow from getting into the feeder is an excellent way of preventing your chicken feed from getting wet.
Feed Wastage due to Rodents.
Rats, mice, and other rodents are attracted to where chickens are kept. This is because they will get a comfortable dwelling and breeding place. The rats and mice will also get free chicken feed. Your chicken coop can make an ideal home for rats and mice. Using rodent-proof chicken feeders will make it hard for rats and mice to eat your chicken feed.
Rodents like squirrels will also visit your backyard looking for food. If they find chicken feed they will eat it and invite other squirrels to the party. Squirrels will not only eat the chicken feed and will also chew holes in the feeders and chicken feed storage containers. When there is nothing to feed on, squirrels will move to the nearest thing they can eat. This includes young chicks. Using squirrel-proof chicken feeders and storage containers will deter squirrels from wasting your chicken feed.
Feed Wastage due to Birds.
Birds will get into the yard and run looking for a feed. If the coop has an opening where the birds can get through, they will get in and feed on the chicken feed. This leads to wasted feed. Other than wasting the costly chicken feed, birds pose a threat to your chickens as they are carriers of various chicken diseases. Using a chicken feeder that keeps birds out will not only cut on the wasted feed but also keep your chickens free from some bird-borne diseases.
How to stop chicken feed wastage.
Preventing chicken feed during feeding is done by using the appropriate feeder. The feeder should be made in a way that chickens will not waste feed by scratching. It should be made with the appropriate material the prevent being gnawed by rodents. Additionally, the design should be able to keep out the elements out of the chicken feeder.
Chicken feeders that are designed to prevent wastage include:-
- Treadle feeders (Grandpas chicken feeders).
- Plastic hanging feeders.
- Galvanized hanging metal feeders.
- PVC pipe feeders with rain cover.
- Trough feeders with anti-spill designs and climb prevention features.
Treadle feeders (Grandpas chicken feeders).
The grandpa treadle feeder was made with waster prevention in mind. The advantages of the treadle feeder:
- Prevents feed spillage by use of the anti-flick grill.
- Prevents soiling of the feed with chickens and pest droppings.
- Protects the feed from elements such as snow and rain.
- Prevents birds, rats, and mice from accessing the feed.
- Made from galvanized steel and alloy that cannot be chewed by rats, squirrels, and mice.
The grandpa’s treadle feeder comes in two sizes – a standard size that can hold feed for 6 chickens for 10 days and a large feeder that can hold feed for 12 chickens for 10 days. This makes it convenient for the poultry keeper since it only needs refilling 3 times each month.
Plastic hanging feeders.
Plastic chickens feeders are the most common feeders. They are cheap, because of the low cost of plastic. They come with a lid on top, which makes refilling easy. The bottom outer rim usually has a slatted design that prevents birds from spilling feed. The lid at the top of the feeder prevents snow and rainwater from getting the chicken feed wet
Plastic chicken feeders are easy to clean. They also come with a hanging ring or hook where one can tie a rope or chain to hang the feeders.
What makes plastic feeders attractive is they are lightweight, making them easy to hang. Hanging plastic feeders makes it impossible for chickens to scratch them since they are usually hung at a height parallel to the height of the back of the chickens. This also ensures that chickens do not soil the feed with poop.
The price of plastic chicken feeders makes it cost-effective to have multiple feeders. This ensures that chickens have easy access to feed and do not fight at the feeder.
Galvanized hanging metal feeders.
Galvanized hanging metal feeders are made from galvanized metal or alloy. They make strong feeders that do not rust when exposed to the elements. Rats, mice, squirrels are not able to chew through galvanized metal feeders. This ensures that the feed is safe.
Operating with the same principles as the plastic hanging feeders, galvanized metal feeders reduce feed spillage, soiling of feed, and keep rodents away from the feed.
When purchasing galvanized metal feeders, check whether they are sold with the top lid or the top lid is sold separately
PVC pipe feeders with rain cover
PVC pipe feeders are made with a 5 inch wide PVC pipe. The bottom has an opening where chickens access the feed. At the top is an opening that has a cover. Feed is filled at the dop and drops by the force of gravity to the bottom. As the chickens eat, more feed drops to the bottom opening.
PVC pipe feeders can be attached to the wall or the mesh that fences the chicken run.
The advantages of PVC pipe feeder is that they reduce feed spillage, make it hard for birds and rodents to access the feed, and keep the chicken feed dry and clean.
Trough feeders with anti-spill designs and climb prevention features.
Trough feeders have been the oldest type of animal feeders. When it comes to chickens, trough feeders have been used because they are easy to make. They can be made with any material that can contain feed.
The challenge with trough feeders is that chickens could spill the feed while eating. They could also climb into the feeder and soil the feed with their droppings.
Modern trough feeders for chickens have been modified to reduce chicken feed wastage by spillage. This is done by the placement of a horizontal bar that prevents chickens from climbing. Some troughs have wire scratch guard bars that prevent chickens from scratching the feed.