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How do you minimize chickens from spilling their food? — The Grow Network Community
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How do you minimize chickens from spilling their food?

roytg94roytg94 Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

My daughter's chickens use their beaks like shovels to drag out the pellet or crumble food out of their food containers. We use a chicken feeder like the included picture. We have tried hanging it, putting it up on cement blocks, but the chicken litter gets clogged in it to the point where the chickens do not eat from it. We have been raising the lid to allow the food to flow after cleaning out the litter from the feeder, but the chickens spill more than they eat. It makes a mess and really stinks when putting the food outside in the chicken run.

Best Answer

  • roytg94roytg94 Posts: 49 ✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    @LaurieLovesLearning Yes! Yes! YES! The DIY No-Waste feeder looks simple to make and seems to fix the problem. I tried a tube feeder that had a covering over it, but the chickens would not stick their head in to eat the food until I cut off the covering, trimmed the bottom part of the tube (to expand the opening of the food flow) and put in some cracked corn. Now they completely empty the tube in just a few hours and waste a majority of the food. My workaround was to put a bucket under it to catch the spilled food and then put it back into the tube feeder. I like your solution much better. I especially like the idea of using a clear container so that the chickens (and I) can see the food. Many thanks!


  • JodieDownUnderJodieDownUnder Moderator Mid North Coast AustraliaPosts: 897 admin

    @roytg94 whenever I've had chooks and thats not that many, maybe 6 or so, I've used a feeder like the one you have a photo of and only 1/3 or 1/4 fill it. Hung it from the shelter roof so it's at the level of where the neck joins the wing on the chook. Then top it up every other day or so.

    I'm sure @LaurieLovesLearning will have some practical advice for you.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
    edited November 2020

    @roytg94 We have one of those too. It is on the floor & they eat out of the top of it.

    We have tried various feeders (those, PVC, pig feeders, troughs, milk jugs, self-gravity feeder style). The recommended height is as Jodie said, but I have found that the height really makes no difference.

    I am not convinced that a treadle style feeder would reduce waste. The sellers claim that it does. However, I am curious about a Solway spring type feeder nozzle. I have read reviews both positive & negative.

    I have wondered about the plastic bins with small holes cut into the side for head entry. This is my leading choice atm (link in post below). If you try it before I do, please let me know.

    These last three, we have not tried.

    In my experience, hybrid birds seemed more wasteful.

    Ultimately, I have no silver bullet advice for you. We are still experimenting with this ourselves. I suspect that if I knew the answer, we'd be rich. 🤔

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
    edited November 2020

    I am partial to this one as our next experiment:

    I wonder if you could hang one (if a pail or place this type of feeder on a smaller "stump" to keep mice from climbing up into it. Right now we have an industrious mouse stealing the wheat only from one pen (maybe more) & stashing it away from the chickens.

    Make sure to read Brenna's comment, Oct. 12, 2015 about her mini version for chick feeders. Chicks are so very wasteful!

    My husband wants to alter our one PC feeder to do this next one. He thought it up himself & then I found it online.

    🤫 (Don't tell him...I tried...but I think the other idea would work better...note the "spill guard" on this one). I think that shows an obvious flaw and one that a bandaid "spill guard" won't necessarily cure. The grain will just be flung over that. I think it is a waste of time when there is a better idea already found & shown. I am not convinced that it is the way to go, but sometimes you just can't push it. It needs to be "tried" first. 🙄

    Yep, I'm a bit irritated at the moment. Eventually maybe we will get back to trying the other...maybe. I have mentioned it before to no avail.

    Hopefully the "weather" will be better on your end! 🤪

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @roytg94 You are welcome. I was able to tell my husband your choice and explain a little more clearly why I figured the container would work. I think he understood my reasons better this morning. Sigh. It sounds positive. 👏

    I don't know if a clear container would be more for your benefit or the chickens. I suspect yours. I have seen/heard our seramas peck at a fully empty container to try to find food, just as a duck can "bathe" in an empty container where they usually get water. 🤦‍♀️

    Haha! Birds can be funny.

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 760 admin

    @roytg94 if you build one of these, would you mind please keeping us posted on how it works? My hens are very wasteful with their traditional feeders, too, so my current not-perfect solution is to just wait an extra day or two to feed them after the feeders are empty in order to encourage them to eat all that feed that's fallen to the ground. But having a no-waste feeder would be -- incredible!

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 774 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow, reading through this article make me very wary of their methods. If the feeder was in their coop how did it get so wet every time it rains? It begs the question...How wet is your coop? And if the family of rats moved in and multiplied so much are you not ever going in the coop? That many should not be that hard to see or spot evidence of. As to the new feeder they built... Looks much more complicated, and only good for a couple of birds. If you have a larger flock they have to wait and take turns to eat. Have never found a feeder type like that which I believed could ever be efficient for my very large flock. We currently have around 180 so the container style intrigues me, but could never handle all my girls.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @vickeym Could I ask what you are using for that many at once? Do you have multiple stations? Do you feed them indoors or outdoors? Of course there are many methods for various reasons, and not everything works for every situation. I would be curious as to what you use as I haven't ever had quite that many here (no room!).

    The one that I want to try is the first link, not the one with the picture that is one pipe with white & pink. This second straight pvc pipe type of feeder has been used by folks with a few birds, but certainly not a large flock. We found that those do in fact collect water when outside. I saw another that made drainage possible, but I think that would still result in mold in the bottom if outside...which nobody wants. It really is really only meant to be an inside the coop/under a roof, with your small flock, feeder.

    One negative comment that was below the one that I wish to try (the container with multiple holes...6 in that one, but a person could add more or maybe use a longer container too) was about a rooster who didn't eat because his comb & wattles were irritated. Now that would be a problem to watch out for. Someone had a solution also in the comments that I didn't quite follow. Possibly an alternative could be given for roos like him.

    There were also concerns about food left in the middle of the container, you could put a pyramid thing in as suggested, but I think that if you are watching the feed situation on a regular basis and keeping it all dry by using a roof of some sort, that that is a minor issue.

    I think if something of that sort was to be used outside, you would be wise to put a roof over top or hoods of some sort to prevent rain from entry through the holes and to prevent roosting/poop on the lid. People tend to forget that rain doesn't always come straight down, and poop on lids can be annoying.

    You also need to make sure the container is up somewhat, because you don't want the chicken to have to contort their neck. It can't be too high either if course.

    A suggested solution for rodents (mice, anyway) not eating was to buy caps to place over the feeder holes at night. You just have to be on top of any rat problem. That's a tough one if you are blessed with that. "Our" rats loved being under the coop & in the garage (dirt floor). Cleaning up junk is necessary, and having good cats & dog. Been there due to a commercial pig barn somewhat close by...

    If you had a large flock, multiple feeding stations would be needed, and not all in one area. This would prevent effective bullying/hogging of holes. Part of animal husbandry is watching the behavior of your birds...but of course, you would know that! ;)

    I have quite a few birds, but don't run one large flock. I have no need to do so and unfortunately cannot free range any of them due to foxes. I keep my birds in smaller breeding flocks and the extra roosters to sell or eat are in their own pen.

    My reasons for housing separate flocks...I don't need one of my best roosters picking off another of my breeder roos. I can also avoid the wasted time & bother of keeping them separate for 3 wks to a month before using them. I don't have to be concerned either if their legband/zip tie falls off. I still know who belongs to what group. Giant roos don't like to keep them on, I've found.

  • ThomasThomas Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    @roytg94 I am also interested in seeing how this comes out if you build it. Keep us posted!

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    I was working on the no waste feeder today. I could not get the elbow to go in no matter how I tried. I finally gave up and ordered a kit from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/RentACoop-DIY-Port-Feeder-Hole/dp/B07N2Z348V/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1O0VSK0EQXLJQ&dchild=1&keywords=no+waste+chicken+feeder&qid=1604286661&sprefix=no+waste%2Cfashion%2C229&sr=8-3 I will build it with that and maybe figure out what I am doing wrong. As a side note I am curious about the water nipples, we use the ones with the yellow thing they peck, I wonder if these will work as well.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @VickiP We use red nipple waterers that hang down. They work well. We bought side ones (also red) but haven't installed any of them anywhere yet.

  • nksunshine27nksunshine27 IdahoPosts: 336 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning ive used the bucket with the hole in the sid and still have chickens that scoop it out. also they couldnt get to the bottom of the bucket. i made a treadle feeder and have no waste and it keeps the mice out of the feed

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @nksunshine27 Had you put those elbows in & they still wasted it? I thought that looked like it would stop the mess. Hmm.

    Did you make a treadle with wood or out of another material? The birds didnt waste anything by brushing heads/beaks side to side (scooping)? I would think that the mice would just chew through wood? It would certainly keep wild birds out.

    I'm just curious as we have tried many things, and as interesting as some things are, it does get tiring when the project doesn't deliver as hoped.

    I think a lot of chicken keepers feel the same.

  • nksunshine27nksunshine27 IdahoPosts: 336 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning yes put the elbows in it and they scooped it out almost worse than a trough especially certain birds i wanted to kick them in their tail feathers but i didnt.

    i did make a treadle feeder out of wood and no problem with mice chewing it i put mint oil around the base.

    also i took one of those big metal automatic dog feeders the metal square ones and propped the door open then made a treadle foot pad for it so two feeders.

    also my husband made a solar water heater for the chickens

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @nksunshine27 Please share the solar water idea with us!

  • nksunshine27nksunshine27 IdahoPosts: 336 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning it is a piece of glass set into a slopped box and insulated with a flame resistant foam and on the back wall is exspanded metal set 1' away from back wall the whole interior is painted black then for the cicken water there is a slot on the side to slide a big rubber bowl in i also add a water bottle filled with lots of salt and some water so it floats and keeps the water from frezzing at night. the cat solar water heater has a plastic pot cut to fit in the hole in the side ansd a rubber flaps so the cats can get in and out they also like to sleep in there during the day lol. i would post pictures but im in the process of transfer everything to a newer phone

  • VickiPVickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    Well I did order the ones from Amazon. It is a DIY kit for no waste feeders : https://www.amazon.com/RentACoop-DIY-Port-Feeder-2/dp/B07D1BMN4D/ref=sr_1_25?dchild=1&keywords=no+waste+feeders&qid=1610943887&sr=8-25 I built the feeder and I really like it! I am going to order another kit and build one for my other coop.

  • roytg94roytg94 Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

    @Merin Porter I did create a small version of the feeder with only one hole. My chickens did not spill the food, but did not eat from it either (probably because they did not see the food). I created a modified version of this design with the inside feeding tube slanted hole down about 45 degrees. The chickens still were able to spill the food, but much less was spilled. I then added a short upward tube as an extension of the inner feeding tube. The result was little, if any of the food was spilled.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @roytg94 Could you post a picture for us? Thanks!

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