Chickens are really easy to look after. They only need a few things - somewhere warm and dry to sleep and lay eggs, regular access to feed (grain + grass) and fresh water. Until recently we were using the old style grain feeders and a bucket of water in each chicken tractor.
Trying a different feeder....
A few months ago, while we were in the depths of a mouse plague (which has now moved south, sorry NSW!), Pete and I were desperate to reduce the amount of grain our chickens were spilling. We had tried a treadle-type feeder before, but most of our chickens couldn't figure out how to use it. I had bought some PVC plumbing to make a feeder, and some chicken nipples for the waterer, but not made it yet (over a year and counting). So I decided to invest in a two sets of Dine-A-Chook feeders and waterers to see if they would help us with the mice.
We had to modify our chicken tractors a little bit. I was hoping they would just slide over the mesh but it didn't line up, and as Pete pointed out, would probably be too heavy for the mesh when they were filled up. We (=Pete) added two pieces of decking timber to each door so that we could screw in the brackets that came with the kits. Only downside is that they are currently in the sun, so we'll see how long they last in that location.
Apart from that, the set up was very simple. One flock of chickens figured it out right away, the others took a bit longer, so we did leave them with a bit of feed in their old feeder and a bucket of water each until we were sure they knew what to do.
And it worked!
After a couple of months, we have noticed a massive reduction in the amount of grain we are feeding out (we estimate grain consumption has halved). We are not seeing any spilled grain on the ground like with the old feeders. And the water is not wasted as they are drinking out of the small cups instead of ruining a whole bucket of water (also mice were falling into the buckets). Overall this is a cost saving that will easily cover the cost of the feeders. And I'm happy to have fewer heavy buckets of water to carry around in the afternoon.
With the feeders on the doors, they are easier to access than hanging in the tractor - we used to have to crawl into the chicken tractor to top up the feeders. We have even had a few heavy rain events and the feed has stayed dry.
The only issue for us is the size of the feeders and waterers - we need to top them up daily, where we previously could top up once or twice a week. We can't really fit anything else on the doors, so if we want to add more of the Dine-a-chook system we will need to come up with another place to put them. If we are away for a night we can still put some feed in the old feeders and an extra bucket of water to make sure they have enough for the next day.
There are a few different sizes and systems available. If you are looking for a better options for your chickens, take a look if these feeders and/or waterers will work for you. All you need is somewhere secure to mount them where you can also easily access to top up regularly, and the chickens will figure out the rest!
Have you tried these? Or another system that works for you?
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