At Sunshine Sisters Farms, we have about 50 full grown birds: 15 ducks and 35 chickens, depending on when you count them.
Originally, we started with about 12, but as time went by, one of the Sunshine Sisters decided to become a crazy chicken lady full-time.
When we started, we scattered the food on the ground. It worked fine. As the flock grew, however, this method became rapidly untenable.
Chickens require about a quarter pound of food per day. Ducks require a similar amount. With so many birds, it meant we had to scatter about 50 pounds of feed per day. Even then, the animals appeared stressed. Without a permanent food supply on hand, they would react to the slightest noise. Even walking buy sent them into a frenzy.
So, we started looking around for solutions.
At first, we used pipe to construct feeders and put three inside the pen.
This calmed them down, but each feeder only held about 15 pounds of food. So, by our math, they needed to be fed twice a day.
This turned out to be wildly successful, as our chickens grew calmer and settled down a bit.
Then it rained.
The construction of our chicken run meant the pipe feeders were exposed. While a cap on top of the feeders prevented the bulk of the feed from getting wet, splashing water from the ground got into the feeders, clogging them.
We had a long run of rain this summer, with what seemed to be a month of rain nearly every day.
Our pipe feeders stayed clogged, and at this point, we decided it was time to seek out another solution.
That is when we found Grandpa’s Feeders.
Made of galvanized steel, these box-type, gravity feeders can hold 20 pounds or 40 pounds of feed. We got the larger, 40 pound option.
The design of the feeders meant they can sit on the floor of our chicken house so they can stay out of the weather.
The really unique thing about the feeders is the lid. The lid covers the food until a chicken steps on a plate, which works a lever that lifts the lid off the feeder.
While the feeder comes with instructions on how to train the chickens to use the lever action in about three weeks, we actually did in in three days.
On the first two days, I locked the lever in the open position. Then on the third day, I closed it entirely. I then scattered feed on and around the activation plate. The chickens, trying to eat the food around the plate wound up stepping on it and opening the device.
I stood by them for a few minutes, pushed them off the plate and watched as they climbed back on it.
After a few repeats of this process, I noticed other chickens watching.
The chickens who watched the process copied their companions and learned how to use the new feeder (proving that chickens are smart creatures.)
Since getting the feeder, we do less work, as it needs to be filled much less.
Since we feed our chickens table scraps and forage, they consume less food when they are not looking at it, so using Grandpa’s Feeder seems to have cut our food bill by about 10 percent.
We still use the pipe feeders as a back up, but since Grandpa’s Feeders stay clean, dry and free of flies, we do not see any reason to go back to using anything else anytime soon.