Pros and Cons of Using a Feeder vs. Tossing Feed on the Ground.
Raising chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience. It’s fascinating to watch these feathered friends pecking and scratching around in the backyard. However, as with any animal, feeding them can be quite a challenge. When it comes to feeding chickens, there are two main options: using a feeder or tossing feed on the ground. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of each method.
Pros and Cons of Using a Feeder:
Using a feeder to feed your chickens is the most common method. A feeder provides a convenient and organized way to feed your chickens. Here are some of the pros and cons of using a feeder:
- Easy to control the amount of feed: Using a feeder allows you to control the amount of feed your chickens are consuming. This is particularly useful if you have a specific diet plan or need to regulate their food intake for any reason. You can fill the feeder with the exact amount of feed they need, and it’s easy to adjust the quantity as needed.
- Keeps the feed clean and dry: A feeder keeps the feed clean and dry, which is important for the health of your chickens. Chickens can be messy eaters, and using a feeder helps to prevent feed from being wasted or contaminated by dirt, debris, or droppings.
- Reduces the risk of pests: A feeder reduces the risk of pests like rats, mice, and squirrels. These critters can easily access feed that is left on the ground, but they will have a harder time getting into a feeder.
- Expensive: A good quality feeder can be expensive, especially if you need to buy multiple feeders for a larger flock. Depending on the type of feeder you choose, you may also need to invest in additional equipment, such as a hanging mechanism or stand.
- May require maintenance: Feeders can require maintenance, such as cleaning or repairing. Over time, a feeder may become clogged or damaged, which can affect its ability to dispense feed properly. You may also need to periodically adjust the feeder to ensure that it’s at the appropriate height for your chickens.
- Can be inconvenient: If you’re traveling or unable to tend to your chickens on a regular basis, using a feeder may not be the most convenient option. You’ll need to make sure that the feeder is filled and functioning properly, which can be a hassle if you’re not able to check on it regularly.
Advantages of Tossing Feed on the Ground
- Mimics Natural Foraging Behavior
Chickens are natural foragers, and when they’re free-ranging, they will scratch and peck the ground in search of food. Tossing feed on the ground simulates this natural behavior, which can reduce boredom and keep your chickens happy and healthy. In addition, it allows them to get the exercise they need to maintain good health.
- Saves Money on Feeders
Feeders can be expensive, especially if you have a large flock of chickens. Tossing feed on the ground eliminates the need for expensive feeders, which can save you money in the long run. Plus, you can use a wider variety of containers, such as old bowls or buckets, to distribute the feed.
- Reduces Waste
When using feeders, chickens can be picky and may not eat everything that’s in the feeder. This can lead to wasted feed and an increase in costs. By tossing feed on the ground, chickens will eat only what they need, which can reduce waste and save you money.
Disadvantages of Tossing Feed on the Ground
- Attracts Pests
Tossing feed on the ground can attract pests such as rodents and insects, which can be a problem if you’re not careful. Rodents can carry diseases and damage property, while insects can cause health problems for your chickens. To minimize these risks, make sure to keep the feeding area clean and free of debris.
- May Not Be Suitable for All Flocks
Tossing feed on the ground may not be suitable for all flocks, especially those that have a high risk of disease. If your flock is at risk of contracting diseases such as salmonella, it’s important to use feeders to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Can Be Messy
Tossing feed on the ground can be messy, especially if your chickens are messy eaters. This can lead to an increase in cleaning time and effort, which can be a disadvantage if you’re short on time.
Tips for Tossing Feed on the Ground:
If you decide to toss feed on the ground for your chickens, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Choose the right location: It’s important to choose the right location for tossing feed on the ground. A good spot would be an area that is easily accessible to your chickens but also protected from predators. You can consider using a fenced area or a run if you have one.
- Use the right feed: When tossing feed on the ground, make sure to use the right feed that is appropriate for your chickens. Different feeds have different nutritional content and it’s important to choose the right one that meets the specific needs of your chickens.
- Toss feed in small amounts: Avoid tossing too much feed at once, as it can lead to wastage and attract rodents and other unwanted pests. Tossing small amounts of feed at regular intervals will help prevent wastage and ensure that your chickens have access to fresh feed throughout the day.
- Provide clean water: Chickens need access to clean water at all times, so make sure to provide a water source near the feeding area.
- Observe your chickens: Watch your chickens as they eat to make sure that they are getting enough food and water. If you notice any signs of malnutrition or dehydration, adjust the feeding schedule or consider providing additional sources of food and water.
- Clean up regularly: Tossing feed on the ground can create a mess, so make sure to clean up regularly to prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria. A clean feeding area also helps to reduce the risk of disease and infection.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your chickens are getting the right nutrition and are healthy and happy.
Tossing feed on the ground can be a good option for some flocks, especially if you’re looking to save money on feeders and want to mimic natural foraging behavior. However, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. If you decide to toss feed on the ground, make sure to keep the feeding area clean and free of debris to minimize the risks associated with attracting pests.