Having the right feeders in place with your animals will save you money by preventing wasted feed, remember aside from purchasing the animals themselves, feed is your largest expense. Some animals are worse than others regarding feed wasting but all will get to a size and capability that has feed spread all over the ground like confetti. That’s wasted money, feeders minimize the waste.
The big key to keep in mind with feeder sizing is that as soon as the animal can get into it, that’s when you start to have a feed wasting fiesta on your hands. For poultry, they jump up in and scratch up a storm, while the bigger stock seems to knock it over into the mud or poop in it. Either situation is best prevented as much as possible.
The second point to remember regarding feeders is that they are able to be used over and over again. Most of our poultry feeders are around five or so years old and still working just fine. (We have lost the rollers off of the baby chick trough feeders but we still use them for all baby poultry anyway.) You will buy the feeders once and get tons of use out of them.
It will be necessary to buy a few different sizes of feeders, as the animals get bigger they need a higher feeder that also has a larger capacity-so you don’t have to constantly refill it!
Poultry Feeders We Recommend
These feeders will work for nearly all poultry, chickens, ducks, geese, etc.
- Miller Plastic Chicken Feeder Little Giant, 20″ L for chicks. This is just a small plastic chick sized feeder. It’s easy to put in nearly any brooder and the top keeps chicks from jumping up into the feed and pooping in it! The chicks will outgrow this fairly quickly it’s true but this feeder can be reused for many batches of chicks and it is durable. We have 3 of these that we use for all of our brooder needs and ours are definitely well used.
- Miller 9112 12 lb. Galvanized Hanging Poultry Feeder This feeder will give you some capacity once your birds get bigger. This way you won’t have to keep refilling their feed troughs multiple times a day. Plus, we have notice that hanging feeders prevent the chickens from wasting feed, especially compared to an open pan.
- Little Giant Reel-Top Range Feeder for Poultry This feeder is great for birds that will be fed a limited amount of feed per day so they all need to come over and eat quick. Works super for all the birds we have used it with waterfowl included.
What to look for in a poultry feeder
- Species appropriate
- Capacity for your flock size
Bird species appropriate
Think about how fast your birds will be growing and how they compare in size to large breed chickens. Why does this matter? Well, the fast growers like broilers will need to eat a lot of feed per day so will need to have feeders that can make this happen.
Regarding comparing your chicks to large breed chicks is important since most feeders will be made with large breed chicks in mind. So if you have bantams for instance the feeders you would use for half grown chicks will need to be shorter than what you would use for the same age chicks of breeds that will mature at a larger size. The same idea of sizing the feeder to the bird is true for babies that would be bigger than large breed chickens, like geese or turkeys.
Capacity for the flock size
Most feeders will give an approximate number of birds of a specific size that the feeder will work well for. This number is normally linear inches of trough space per bird. If your birds are on full feed (have feed all the time) then the do not need to all be able to eat at once, they will naturally take turns, Eat a little then go back to the heat lamp (if still in the brooder) or go get a drink of water or maybe just explore around.
If the birds are getting a limited amount of feed then they all need to be able to fit at the feeders at the same time. Not surprisingly, as the get bigger fewer and fewer birds will be able to fit at the same feeder.
No worries, get another feeder put in the pen, or just figure out the space that the flock will need to all eat at once when they are full grown and get a feeder that is big enough for them at maturity.
Honestly, durability in a poultry feeder has never been a problem for us. Everything we have purchased in the way of feeders has lasted well for us. But please don’t cheap out here. A really low price on a feeder is not a deal in the long run. Your feeders should last for years so get a good one to start your flock out right.
Sizes you will need
- Baby chick size
- Mid (juvenile) poultry size
- Mature bird size
Baby chick size
The baby chick size feeder is mandatory. New chicks are small and just too short to reach into a feeder made for a larger bird.
Baby chicks are curious and will try new things. This can get them into trouble that they are too little to get out of themselves. The right size equipment prevents accidents as much as they can be prevented.
Additionally, keep in mind that even if you have a mom with a bunch of babies, just because she can reach the feed doesn’t mean the chicks can get any. She will make a mess of feed that is put low enough for the chicks but that will have to be accepted in order for the chicks to eat.
Mid size feeders
The middle size is a nice step up in feed capacity but only if you want to have them and your birds are not tall enough yet for the regular size feeders.
Mature sized feeders
The mature poultry size feeders will make the best use of the feed you buy by preventing waste. The bigger feeders will also save you some time, since they hold more feed you won’t have to run into the coop with feed all of the time to keep up with your flock.
Running out of feed is a concern for the fast growing birds like broilers. Broilers will only be with you for 6-8 weeks. But in that time they will grow like crazy and need to eat like crazy to fuel the growth. That means you will need a higher feed capacity for a flock of broilers than a flock of layer breed pullets, based on feed needs per day of each bird.
Never fear, the math to figure this out isn’t difficult (it’s probably in the catalog you ordered from) or just get a larger capacity feeder or plan to refill the biggest one you have a few times a day.