The cost of chicken feeders can vary hugely.
But remember, just because it is expensive does not mean it is the best one for your flock.
This article will explain all the different types of chicken feeders to give you an idea of what is available.
It will then review the five best feeders around so you can pick the best one for your flock…
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Our Rating|
|The Best Feeder||Grandpa’s Feeders Automatic Chicken Feeder||4.5|
|Runner Up Feeder||RentACoop Bucket||4.4|
|Best Hanging Feeder||Harris Farms||4.0|
|Best Budget Feeder||Kaytee Gravity Bin||4.0|
|Best No Waste||Royal Rooster Feeder||4.0|
Contents and Quick Navigation
- What To Know Before Buying
- The Best 5 Chicken Feeders
- How Many Feeders Do Your Chickens Need?
- Common Problems
- FAQs about Chicken Feeders
What To Know Before Buying
The first thing you need to decide is where you are going to put the feeder.
This will impact the size and type of feeder you buy.
For example if you have a small coop with four hens and space is going to be tight you could purchase a wall hung unit which will not take up too much room. However if you are going to leave it outside then you are going to need one that is vermin proof and waterproof.
Secondly you need to consider your budget.
If money is tight you can not beat a plastic hanging feeder. They are cheap and last for years however they do need to be hung in a dry environment.
Next is durability.
You do not want to make a habit out of buying feeders so you want to make sure whatever you buy is durable.
Some cheaper and poorly constructed ones will not last very long. It is reasonable to expect them to last several years at least. In general plastic and metal should last a very long time with a little care.
Finally you need to consider the size.
So you need to buy one which is appropriate for your flock size. A good rule of thumb is 10lb capacity for every 6 chickens.
Types of Feeders
The term automatic here means that the feeder works by chicken demand.
Basically anything that you fill (treadle, gravity, trough or hanging) can be considered an automatic.
However when people say automatic they mostly mean a treadle. This is operated by the chicken standing on a foot plate which opens the feed box for them to eat.
These are said to be fairly vermin proof because the food is kept in a sealed box.
This also helps to keep the feed fresh and dry.
Gravity feeders are the cheapest and most readily available type that you will find in feed stores and online.
They are simple to use and are usually made from plastic or metal. It consists of an open container with a feed tray at the base. You refill these from the top so the oldest food gets eaten first. They can be wall mounted or free standing.
Hanging chicken feeders are usually the gravity type mentioned above.
When hanging it make sure you place it centrally so that several chickens can access it at once.
They are very simple to set up and are best used inside the coop.
Troughs are perfect for chicks and Bantams.
They are typically used by chicks before they can reach the big girl feeders.
Do not use them with large hens as they tend to kick it over while scratching and moving around. The big disadvantage of troughs is that chickens will perch on it and poop into their food (so it needs to be cleaned frequently).
- Many folks use large rubber feed bowls – they are hardy, easy to clean and last for years.
- Pottery feeders are usually quite small so they are only useful if you have a few chickens (preferably bantams).
- Finally mason jars can be used for chicks.These are good for chicks up to around six weeks old then they will need something larger.
The Best 5 Chicken Feeders
The Best Feeder: Grandpa’s Feeders Automatic Chicken Feeder
Grandpa’s Feeders Automatic Chicken Feeder is very well regarded and comes with a 24 month money back guarantee. This is an automatic feeder and can hold up to 20lb of feed. This large capacity means it can feed quite a few chickens before it will need to be refilled. The design has been used for 20 years so it is tried and tested. The automatic opening mechanism is simple and chicken operated which means no motors or wiring can break!
Our chickens took a few weeks to learn how to use it. It also took them about a month to learn not to be afraid of the sound of the lid closing. This feeder is perfect if you need to take short trips and not worry about how much feed your chickens have left.
Overall this is a very reliable and robust feeder which will last your flock for years to come.
- Very durable and will last for years.
- Large feed capacity (20lb).
- On demand automatic feeding.
- Weatherproof and vermin resistant.
- Reduces wasted feed.
- Not suitable for bantams.
- You need to train your chickens how to use it.
- The metal footplate can get hot in summer.
Runner Up Feeder: RentACoop Bucket
The RentACoop Chicken Feeder holds 20lb of feed and is 100% BPA-free. It is a manual type that was made to reduce feed waste, keep out vermin and keep the feed dry. This feeder is very simply designed, very sturdy and long lasting. Each feeder has two feeding points so multiple hens can eat at the same time. The bucket can contain 20lb of feed and will feed eight hens for one week.
After I tried this one I realized how much food my hens wasted. It is easy to refill and it only took a day for my hens to learn how to use it. I accidentally left it outside in the rain once and was surprised to find the feed completely dry. My only complaint is the last inch of feed is inaccessible.
- Weatherproof so can be used inside or outside.
- Will reduce your wasted feed.
- Very good customer service.
- Includes setup video and details instructions.
- Vermin free design.
- Plastic hangers break easily.
- Roosters with large combs can struggle with using feeder.
- Only compatible with pellets.
Best Hanging Feeder: Harris Farms
The Harris Farms Hanging Poultry Feeder is a galvanized metal feeder that holds up to 15lb of feed. This is an affordable option for those who are looking for a simple yet sturdy option. It is well made and light so you can hang it up fairly easily. The edges are rolled which helps to prevent any injury. This is a solid and durable feeder which should last you for years to come.
I love this galvanized feeder. It is much more durable than all the plastic ones I have owned before. With this feeder you won’t need to clean two or more times a day because it does a great job of stopping chickens scratching their bedding and waste into the feed.
- Very well priced.
- 15lb capacity will keep six hens fed for around ten days.
- Can be used as a hanging or standing unit.
- Made using heavy duty steel.
- Adjustable hopper height settings.
- Does not come with a lid.
- Vermin can easily access the food.
- Does not reduce feed wastage.
Best Budget Feeder: Kaytee Gravity Bin
The Kaytee Gravity Bin Feeder is our best budget pick. This affordable small plastic hopper holds around two pounds of feed. The entire product is made from plastic so it will be suitable to use during summer and winter. Remember that this feeder is designed to hang, however it will not help to prevent billing out or wastage.
I did notice that this feeder is incredibly sturdy despite the low price. My girls never knocked it over and the lid on top helped to keep the feed dry when it rained. However, mice were able to chew through the plastic. We use it for holding our grit now so the mice do not bother it.
- Holds a good amount of feed.
- Can also be used to hold grit and oyster shell.
- Several colors to choose from.
- Includes brackets to mount.
- Instructions provided are not detailed.
- Not chew proof (so can have issues with rodents).
Best No Waste Feeder: Royal Rooster
The Royal Rooster Poultry Feeder is an innovative design that helps to eliminate wasted feed. It has a plastic lid guard which keeps the feed dry and lifts up when you need to re-fill it. At the bottom of the feeder it has a cover which also helps to reduce waste. Each one is suitable for up to six hens.
This feeder is a great way to conserve floor space with its vertical tube shape. I did need to replace the hook that the feeder came with, but I am otherwise happy with the product. No more feed all over the place with the added bonus of only needing to feed every three days.
The Royal Rooster Poultry Feeder is ideal for people looking to reduce feed wastage.
- Helps reduce feed wastage.
- Easy to clean.
- Waterproof so can be used outside.
- Keeps feed dry all year long.
- Fairly expensive.
- One feeder suitable for six hens.
How Many Feeders Do Your Chickens Need?
If only there was a simple answer to this.
Just like people chickens have unique personalities. You can find mean, bossy, greedy, shy and even docile chickens.
You will probably have a mean girl in your flock that will guard the feeders and waterers.
Your bully hen will think the feeders are hers and hers alone.
Fortunately most of the other hens will stand up to her or ignore her, but there will be one or two that are so intimidated by her that they won’t eat or drink while she is around.
This is why you should always have more than one.
The ideal number is 8-10 chickens per feeder, but Ms. Bossy pants will alter that dynamic (even if there are only a handful of chicken).
I tend to put out the main feeder where everyone congregates and then I place two or three smaller ones far enough away that they cannot be seen from the main feeder. That way the shy girls can eat in peace.
Everyone does it differently and there really is no hard and fast rule for where you place them.
Just remember if you choose to have set feeding times this could be problematic for the more timid girls who may not get their full ration. You will need to closely monitor the situation and if there are one or two chickens dominating the feeder, they need to be placed in time out so the others can feed freely.
There are several common problems which people run into with chicken feeders.
The first is vermin.
They are crafty, tenacious and smart and will break into most feeders quite easily. This is bad because they will steal the food and poop in the remaining food. If you live in an area known for having lots of vermin then make sure yours is vermin proof.
The second problem people have is mold. This happens because people use large capacity feeders for a small flock – this is not a good idea.
Feed that gets stale can cause respiratory issues for your girls.
Make sure to use a suitably sized feeder (10lb capacity for 6 chickens) and clean it often. They should be cleaned out at least monthly to remove old feed and the inevitable layer of dust in the base.
Finally you should be aware of breakage.
Several folks have had problems with plastic handles breaking and dropping the feeder onto the floor. Try to use a sturdy metal hanger that can hold it up whilst fully loaded.
Remember not to use plastic in areas that get very cold during the winter months – it will become brittle and break.
Also if you are using a metal one outside place it under some sort of cover to prevent rust. All these tips will help prevent it from breaking.
FAQs about Chicken Feeders
What type of feeder is best for chickens?
There is no one feeder that is best for all flocks.
The best will depend on your backyard setup. If your feeder is outside then you will need one with a weather-proof lid to keep the feed dry. An outdoor feeder should also prevent animals such as mice, from getting into the feed.
Whereas those placed in the coop have different challenges.
They do not need to be weather-proof, but they are more likely to get bedding and chicken waste scratched into them. Hanging feeders with an open top are great in this case as they are easy to refill and clean.
The best chicken feeder for your chickens will be the one that addresses the unique needs of your setup.
Should chicken feeders be off the ground?
Chicken feeders do not have to be off the ground.
But raising them off the ground will mean you can clean them less often.
Just keep in mind that feeders can be too high for chickens. The ideal height that is most comfortable for chickens is if the feed is at the same height as the bottom of the chicken’s neck.
Do you put a feeder in the chicken coop?
You can put your chicken feeder either inside or outside the chicken coop.
The best option for you will depend on your setup and the type you have.
Feeders that allow the feed to get wet should be kept inside the chicken coop to minimize spoilage from humid or rainy weather. Likewise, feeders that allow other animals to access it should be kept in the coop as they could attract predators if left outside.
Just remember that leaving them inside the coop will also encourage your chickens to spend more time inside the coop. This also means inside feeders are counter-productive if you are trying to encourage your chickens to forage for food outside.
Before you buy always check the reviews to find any common problems.
Also be cautious if anyone claims the feeder completely eliminates waste – we have yet to find a feeder that totally eliminates waste.
Take your time and do your research.
Which type of chicken feeder are you going to buy? Let us know in the comment section below…
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