I frequently sing the praises of treadle feeders and wonder why more poultry owners don't use them.
Treadle Feeder are also known as AUTOMATIC FEEDERS.
It always comes back to those who have tried, gave up...or cheat.
WHAT IS A TREADLE FEEDER?
The word Treadle means a base plate on which a hen stands in order to open the lid to the feed. When she steps off, the lid will close, thus securing the feed from rain and invaders such as pigeons, sparrows, mice and rats.
- Cuts down on feed costs IMMEDIATELY. Hens cannot scratch out the food from inside the feeder.
- Eliminates rodents from accessing the feed. (Thus reduces snake activity looking for rodents to eat)
- Can be used inside AND outside in all weather conditions (on large galvanized types).
- A full bucket of feed can be held by one treadle feeder so that if you go away for a long weekend, the birds will have enough food for that duration.
HOW TO TRAIN CHICKENS TO USE A TREADLE FEEDER
- Consult the manual with the treadle feeder to learn how to FULLY open the feeder for the birds to see and eat directly from.
- Keep the feeder in the open position for one full week.
- Second week, alter how far the treadle feeder can open.
This will depend on the type of treadle feeder you have. Either use screws, pins or clothes peg as per the instructions.
This is the frightening week (THE WEEK MOST OWNERS GET STUCK ON)
- At the end of the second or third week, remove the screw, peg or pin to close completely.
The birds should now know where their food source is kept.
Check the inside of the lid on some treadle feeders for a permanent list of instructions.
HOW DO MOST OWNERS GET STUCK?
The second week of training is where most owners seem to stop and leave the treadle feeder in an open position.
This defeats the whole purpose of introducing a treadle feeder.
Remove the screw, pin or peg and TRUST that the hens know where their food source is located.
Some chickens are put off by the slamming noise of the lid. This can be dampened with a piece of spongy stick-on door sealer.
TRUST your hens.
Its at this point that poultry owners who have this problem start protesting that I must be wrong.
I can assure you, after trying OVER 15 different breeds of chickens of different sizes and personalities, THEY CAN USE IT.
ARE ALL TREADLE FEEDERS GOOD?
There are smaller, cheaper versions and then there are large all weather types that stand up to the highest winds.
If you need to use a small type for bantams to train on, then keep it inside the coop out of the wind and rain.
Sometimes, due to size of the coop, the only option is a smaller version.
The more UPRIGHT versions often have the problem of collecting pellet dust or spend grain husks in the bottom tray so that fresh food is not able to come through. There are good ones and bad ones.
Where ever possible, go for the quality, durability and for all weather conditions. I highly recommend Grandpa's Feeders. Just the smallest version hold an entire bucket of feed. And they hold their resale value if you ever need to sell-up. They cost more and are only available online, but are by far the best on the market.
ARE THEY WORTH IT?
- Food costs are dramatically reduced.
- Works best for pellets.
- Mixed grains spent husks can pool in all versions, unfortunately.
- Needs an even surface and an area to accommodate it.
- Can be used inside and outside of the coop (on most versions except for the smallest types).
- Wooden versions can be subjected to rot and mold over time. Opt for GALVANIZED types.