We had a lot of trouble trying to introduce the chickens to a treadle feeder. The one that we first bought was a cheapy – around £40. The idea of a treadle feeder is that it keeps the food clean and dry, and doesn’t present a temptation to vermin, while still making the food instantly available to the chickens.
You can see it in the picture below.
The treadle is the wire mesh platform. In the picture, we’ve weighted it down with a brick, which keeps the cover of the food tray permanently open. Once the chickens are used to it, the brick is removed and they operate the treadle with their own weight.
Only they didn’t. Only two of the four managed it, and the others survived on what the first two spilled. That’s not very satisfactory, so we reverted to more traditional feeders. I think the problem was that the chickens were too large for the rather restricted access to the feed tray, and perhaps also that they remained nervous of the clang when the lid opened.
But when we went to the National Poultry Show, I was tempted by a special offer on a Grandpa’s Feeder. These are also treadle feeders, but altogether grander. I first read about them on Witch Hazel’s blog, which is well worth reading. They’re also jolly expensive – £95 plus £12.50 postage. The offer was £85, and of course you save the postage too. So we bought one.
Thank goodness, it’s a success. It was nice and bright this morning as I let them out at dawn, plus I remembered to take a camera.
The cock is rather a big lad, so he prefers to stand back while one of the hens stands on the treadle, but he’s quite capable of opening the feeder by pressing on the treadle with one leg and feeding that way.