Chicken Feeders: A Comprehensive Guide for Poultry Owners

chickens eating from a chicken feeder

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Buying chicken feeders might seem like an unnecessary expense, but they are superior to things like an old tuna fish can or a discarded dog dish, which will wind up wasting feed as the chickens walk through it, flip over the dish, and poop in it. So, let’s discuss better options for feeding your chickens.

Types of Chicken Feeders

Gravity Feeders

Gravity feeders are the most common type of chicken feeder. They work by allowing feed to flow down from a container into a tray as the chickens eat. These feeders are simple and easy to use, and they come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different numbers of chickens. Gravity feeders are typically made of plastic or metal, and they can be hung or placed on the ground.

Treadle Feeders

Treadle feeders are designed to keep wild birds and rodents out of the chicken feed. They work by requiring the chicken to step on a treadle to open a door that allows access to the feed. When the chicken steps off the treadle, the door closes, preventing other animals from getting in. Treadle feeders are usually made of metal and can be quite heavy, so they are best used in stationary locations.

Tube Feeders

Tube feeders are similar to gravity feeders, but they use a tube to dispense the feed. The tube is filled with feed, and as the chickens eat, more feed drops down to replace it. Tube feeders are ideal for outdoor use, as they protect the feed from the elements and keep it dry. They are also useful for keeping the feed off the ground, which can help prevent contamination.

Automatic Feeders

Automatic feeders are designed to dispense feed on a schedule, eliminating the need for daily feeding. They can be set to dispense a specific amount of feed at a specific time, and they can be programmed to feed several times a day. Automatic feeders are ideal for those who have a large number of chickens or who need to be away from home for extended periods. They can be quite expensive, but they are a convenient option for those who want to save time and effort.

In summary, there are several types of chicken feeders available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right feeder depends on the number of chickens, the location of the coop, and personal preferences.

Materials Used in Chicken Feeders


Plastic is a common material used in chicken feeders due to its durability, lightweight, and ease of cleaning. It is also affordable and widely available. However, it’s important to note that not all plastic feeders are created equal. Some low-quality plastic feeders may crack or break easily, especially when exposed to harsh weather conditions.

When choosing a plastic chicken feeder, look for feeders made from high-quality, food-grade plastic. These feeders are more durable and resistant to wear and tear. Additionally, plastic feeders should be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.


Metal chicken feeders are another popular option due to their durability and resistance to weather conditions. They are also less likely to be damaged by pecking chickens. Metal feeders can be made from a variety of materials, including galvanized steel and aluminum.

Galvanized steel feeders are coated with zinc to prevent rusting and corrosion. They are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions. However, they may be heavier and more difficult to move around.

Aluminum feeders are lightweight and easy to move around. They are also resistant to rust and corrosion. However, they may not be as durable as galvanized steel feeders.


Wooden chicken feeders are less common but can be an option for those looking for a more natural look. They are also biodegradable and environmentally friendly. However, wooden feeders may not be as durable as plastic or metal feeders, and they may be more difficult to clean.

When choosing a wooden chicken feeder, look for feeders made from untreated wood. Treated wood may contain chemicals that can be harmful to chickens. Wooden feeders should also be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.

Overall, the choice of material for a chicken feeder depends on various factors, including the durability, ease of cleaning, and personal preference of the chicken owner.

How to Choose the Right Chicken Feeder

When it comes to selecting the right chicken feeder, there are a few factors to consider. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Size and Capacity

The size and capacity of the feeder is an important consideration. The feeder should be able to hold enough feed to last your chickens for at least a day or two, depending on how often you plan to refill it. It’s also important to choose a feeder that is the right size for your flock. If you have a large flock, you’ll need a larger feeder to accommodate them all.

Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning your chicken feeder is an important part of maintaining a healthy flock. Look for a feeder that is easy to disassemble and clean. Some feeders have removable parts that can be washed in the dishwasher, while others can be easily scrubbed clean with soap and water.


A durable feeder is essential if you want it to last for years to come. Look for feeders made from high-quality materials, such as metal or heavy-duty plastic. Avoid feeders made from flimsy materials that are prone to cracking or breaking.


Price is always a consideration when purchasing any product, and chicken feeders are no exception. While it’s important to choose a feeder that is durable and easy to clean, you don’t want to overspend. Look for feeders that offer a good balance of quality and affordability.

Installation and Maintenance of Chicken Feeders

Installation Process

When installing a chicken feeder, it is important to choose a location that is easily accessible to the chickens but also protected from the weather. The feeder should be placed on a level surface and secured to prevent tipping or spilling. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly and installation of the feeder.

Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance of chicken feeders is essential to ensure their proper functioning. The feeder should be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of mold, bacteria, and other contaminants. Feeders should be emptied and cleaned at least once a week, or more frequently if necessary.

Inspect the feeder regularly for signs of damage, such as cracks or holes, and repair or replace as needed. Check the feeder’s fasteners and connections to make sure they are secure.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

One common problem with chicken feeders is clogging. This can be caused by wet or clumpy feed, or by foreign objects getting stuck in the feeder. To prevent clogging, make sure the feed is dry and free of clumps, and keep the feeder clean.

Another common problem is pests, such as rodents or insects, getting into the feeder. To prevent this, use a feeder with a secure lid or cover, and keep the surrounding area clean.

If the feeder is not dispensing feed properly, check for blockages or damage to the dispenser mechanism. Make sure the feeder is level and secure, and adjust the dispenser as needed.

In conclusion, proper installation and maintenance of chicken feeders is crucial to ensure the health and well-being of the birds. By following these simple steps, chicken owners can help prevent problems and ensure that their birds have access to clean, fresh feed at all times.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Different Chicken Feeders


Different types of chicken feeders have their own benefits. Here are some of the advantages of using different types of chicken feeders:

Gravity Feeders

Gravity feeders are a popular choice among chicken keepers. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Gravity feeders work by allowing the feed to flow down into the feeding tray as the chickens eat. Some of the benefits of using gravity feeders include:

  • Low maintenance
  • Can hold a large amount of feed
  • Easy to refill

Automatic Feeders

Automatic feeders are becoming increasingly popular among chicken keepers. They are designed to dispense feed at specific times, which can be beneficial for those who are away from home for extended periods of time. Some of the benefits of using automatic feeders include:

  • Consistent feeding schedule
  • Reduced waste
  • Can be used with different types of feed


While there are benefits to using different types of chicken feeders, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are some of the disadvantages of using different types of chicken feeders:

Gravity Feeders

Gravity feeders do have some drawbacks that chicken keepers should be aware of. Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Feed can become contaminated if not cleaned regularly
  • Can attract rodents and other pests
  • Chickens may scratch and waste feed

Automatic Feeders

While automatic feeders are convenient, they do have some drawbacks. Some of the disadvantages of using automatic feeders include:

  • More expensive than other types of feeders
  • Can malfunction and stop dispensing feed
  • Require electricity or batteries to operate

Overall, it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of different types of chicken feeders before making a decision. The best option will depend on individual needs and preferences.

Chicken Feeding Tips

When it comes to feeding chickens, there are a few tips that can help ensure that they are getting the proper nutrition and staying healthy.

First, it is important to provide chickens with a balanced diet that includes a mix of grains, protein, and vitamins. A good quality commercial feed can provide all of the necessary nutrients, but it is also important to supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as occasional treats like mealworms or scratch grains.

Secondly, it is important to keep the feeders clean and free of mold and bacteria. Chickens can be susceptible to illness if they consume contaminated feed. Regularly cleaning and sanitizing the feeders can help prevent this.

Thirdly, it is important to provide enough feeders for all of the chickens, as well as enough space for each chicken to eat comfortably. Chickens are social animals, but they can also be territorial, so providing enough space and feeders can help prevent aggression and ensure that all chickens are getting enough to eat.

Finally, it is important to monitor the chickens’ feed intake and adjust accordingly. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health problems, while underfeeding can result in malnutrition and poor egg production. Monitoring the chickens’ weight and egg production can help determine if any adjustments need to be made to their diet.

By following these tips, chicken owners can help ensure that their chickens are getting the proper nutrition and staying healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of chicken feeders available?

There are several types of chicken feeders available in the market. Some of the most common types include gravity feeders, treadle feeders, automatic feeders, and hanging feeders. Gravity feeders are the most basic type of feeder that relies on gravity to dispense feed. Treadle feeders require chickens to step on a pedal to open the feeder. Automatic feeders use a timer or sensor to dispense feed, while hanging feeders are suspended from a height and allow chickens to access feed from below.

How do I choose the right size feeder for my chickens?

The size of the feeder you choose will depend on the number of chickens you have. A good rule of thumb is to provide at least 4 inches of feeder space per chicken. For example, if you have 10 chickens, you should choose a feeder that provides at least 40 inches of feeder space.

What are the benefits of using an automatic chicken feeder?

Automatic chicken feeders offer several benefits. They can save time and effort by dispensing feed automatically, reducing the need for daily feedings. They also help prevent wastage by dispensing the right amount of feed at the right time, reducing the amount of feed that is spilled or left uneaten. Additionally, automatic feeders can help prevent vermin and other pests from accessing the feed, keeping it clean and fresh for your chickens.

Can I make my own chicken feeder at home?

Yes, you can make your own chicken feeder at home using simple materials such as PVC pipes, buckets, or plastic containers. There are several DIY plans available online that can help you create your own feeder.

Where can I find high-quality metal chicken feeders?

High-quality metal chicken feeders can be found at farm supply stores, online retailers, and specialty stores that cater to poultry owners. Look for feeders made from galvanized steel or other durable materials that can withstand the elements and the pecking of chickens.

What are the advantages of using a hanging chicken feeder?

Hanging chicken feeders offer several advantages. They help keep the feed clean and dry by suspending it from a height, reducing the risk of contamination and spoilage. They also help prevent chickens from scratching and spilling feed on the ground, reducing wastage and keeping the coop clean. Additionally, hanging feeders can help prevent vermin and other pests from accessing the feed, keeping it safe and fresh for your chickens.

Want to learn about raising chickens? This Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens (+Pro Tips) will help you ask yourself all the right questions, and it will also give you a realistic idea of what to expect as a chicken owner.

Click here to visit our Amazon store, which includes lists of things chickens need, as well as our favorite chicken books!

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3 thoughts on “Chicken Feeders: A Comprehensive Guide for Poultry Owners”

  1. I don’t use a feeder! Is that bad?? My small flock is in a big pen (of sand) and I broadcast their feed across the sand. I also throw peelings and weeds in the pen throughout the day. There is very little poop in their yard. So far, everyone seems fat and happy, and prolific with eggs.

    • Hi Maggie
      One risk with broadcasting feed onto the ground, is the increase potential for parasite burden in your birds. Parasites are in the poop and the ground, especially in an isolated area, is their toilet. Another would be mold growth on feed that gets wet from being on damp ground.
      Granted they are grabbing bugs and such, but if we can keep their feed off the ground, we can shrink the potential for illness in our birds.

  2. We absolutely love our Grandpa’s Feeder. It works great for our chickens and ducks. For us, it is more convenient, cleaner, and we have far less food waste. For us, though the initial cost was hard to take, in the long run it has saved money and time.


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