There is a bewildering array of options available for feeding chickens. A lot depends on the number of birds, whether they are indoor or outdoor, and their age and type.
In this blog post, we'll look at the five leading types of poultry feeders to help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
1. Treadle Poultry Feeders
A simple step-on treadle mechanism gives the birds complete freedom to choose when they feed. The most robust treadle feeders have a galvanised structure and cover to protect food from vermin, wild birds, and wet weather.
A generous storage capacity means less time spent refilling with feed, and as the contents are dry and protected, there's no need to worry about spoiling.
A clever design offers feed spill, and wastage is minimal. Look for a treadle feeder with a lid that locks open upright so it’s easy to fill, as well as an adjustable plate to suit different birds.
- Ad-lib feeding
- Minimal spillage and waste
- Vermin-proof and secure against rodents
- Convenient and easy to use
- Food is wasted if the birds don’t eat everything
- Difficult to clean
- Not as cheap as the plastic feeders
2. Tray/Bowl Poultry Feeders
Tray or bowl poultry feeders are one of the most commonplace and inexpensive options for feeding chickens, suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
Tray/bowl poultry feeders allow the birds to exhibit natural behaviours, although this can be a headache for the chicken keeper who has to deal with scattered feed and overturned bowls!
New designs are wall-mounted to avoid some of the well-known drawbacks with bowls so the chickens feed at neck height. A V-front feeder prevents the chicken from scattering feed, minimising spills and wastage.
- For indoor and outdoor use
- Easy to clean
- Birds stand in the feeder and scatter the feed
- Exposes feed to wild birds, vermin, and rain in outdoor chicken runs
- Feed becomes mixed up with chicken manure
- Bowls and trays require refilling more often
3. Spin Poultry Feeders
Spin poultry feeders deliberately scatter the feed across a wide area to encourage pecking, scratching, and foraging.
The feeder distributes the feed in a large circular pattern, adjustable for different house sizes and the number of birds.
Spin poultry feeders protect the birds from stress as all the birds eat simultaneously. They allow for increased stocking density but enable the birds to exhibit natural behaviours, such as pecking and scratching.
- Encourage natural behaviours
- Reduces stress in the flock
- Adjustable to different flock and chicken house sizes
- Fast feed distribution
- Feed mixes with litter and manure
- Spin feeders only take pelleted food
- Only suitable for indoor units
4. Gravity-Fed Poultry Feeders
Gravity-fed poultry feeders are sited off the ground and offer a gradual trickle system for birds.
This simple design uses gravity to dispense slowly via a small opening at the bottom of the container, mimicking the chicken’s natural feeding pattern.
Gravity-fed poultry feeders come in all shapes, sizes, and materials and suit various poultry operations, ensuring a steady food supply.
- Cost-effective design
- Easy to use
- Low maintenance
- Steady flow of food readily available
- Reliable and efficient
- Only suitable for dry feeds
- Not suitable for bantams
- Chickens must learn to use them
5. Trough Poultry Feeders
Trough poultry feeders are simple, cheap, and durable. They are readily available to buy or can even be homemade.
Trough poultry feeders are usually made of steel and galvanised during manufacture for strength and durability. The sides should be flanged inwards to prevent wastage, and the ends flanged outwards to make them easy to clean.
Chickens will tend to stand in trough feeders and flick food over the sides by scratching, and they can contaminate the food with droppings when they perch on the sides. However, troughs allow natural behaviours in the flock.
- Durable for indoor and outdoor use
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Suitable for wet and dry feeds
- Perfect for chicks and bantams
- Chickens stand in them
- High food wastage rate
- Birds can gorge themselves
What Is the Best Feeding System in Poultry Farming?
Hobby keepers or those with outdoor flocks like to encourage natural feeding behaviours. Usually, they have fewer birds, so tray/bowl or trough poultry feeders work well. The drawbacks of these feeders are not a problem on a smaller scale.
Large commercial operations are more concerned about food wastage and bird stress, wanting to encourage natural behaviours in high-density units. For these establishments, spin poultry feeders are the ideal indoor choice.
Treadle and gravity feeders accommodate larger flocks and allow birds to feed when they want while keeping the food free from contamination and rodents.
The right poultry feeder is out there for you and your farm. It’s merely a case of looking at the birds and the set-up to determine what will fit the bill - something we hope this guide assists with.
For all your poultry feeding needs, including different feeders from trusted brands, shop with Dalton Engineering.