The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that approximately $2 billion in poultry feed is destroyed by rodents annually. Extrapolating from the startling data found here, I calculated that 25 rats can consume 500 pounds of feed per year; at $20 per bag, one of Grandpa’s Feeders would pay for itself in short order, but feed lost to rodent consumption is not the only price paid for the presence of rodents.
After finding the dead mouse in the run, I set up an electronic trap to see if I could catch any of his friends. Much to my surprise, this ginormous rat was in the trap and rodent warfare was ON. <shudder>
Rodents are known carriers of approximately 45 diseases, including salmonellosis, pasteurellosis, leptospirosis, swine dysentery, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis and rabies. Mice and rats can carry disease-causing organisms on their feet, contaminating ten times the amount of feed they consume with droppings, urine and hair. So, between the risk of disease posed to my flock and the destruction/consumption of feed, I began to realize that a well constructed feeder that keeps nasty beasties out of the chicken feed and chicken coop/run is worth its weight in gold.
When a representative of Grandpa’s Feeders in New Zealand contacted me about test-driving one of their treadle feeders, I was not inclined to try one initially because I didn’t believe I needed a new feeder. I made my own PVC feeders and have been happy with their performance, besides, I believed treadle-style feeders were designed primarily to keep rodents out of the feed and I didn’t have a problem with rodents- or so I believed.
I read through Grandpa’s website and the product appeared to be solidly constructed, still I thought it would be difficult to justify the purchase of a new feeder…until I found a dead mouse in my run and began researching rodent control. I quickly realized that the actual and potential costs of rodents in the feed and around the chicken coop can far exceed the cost of one of Grandpa’s Feeders.
Grandpa’s Poultry feeders have a cantilevered lid over the feed trough that lifts to expose the feed when a chicken steps onto the attached platform and closes when the chicken steps off it.
- The standard feeder requires 14 ounces of weight to open the lid. An adult rat weighs approximately 9 to 11 ounces. Rats, mice, sparrows, rabbits, squirrels, etc are all normally too light to open Grandpa’s Feeders.
- Anti-flick grill: prevents the birds from scooping feed out of the trough onto the dirty ground where coccidiosis and other diseases can contaminate the feed.
- Capacity: a standard Grandpa’s Feeder holds 20 lbs of feed, which services approximately 6 chickens for 10 days. Vacation, anyone?
- The feeders are made of galvanized steel with an alloy tread plate. They are waterproof and can be used inside or out.
- Poop-proof: chickens can’t poop in it when the lid is closed. BONUS!
- There is a 12 month, money-back satisfaction guarantee. You can’t beat that with a stick!
There is a training period that allows the birds to become accustomed to the operation of the feeder that requires no effort on the part of the chicken-keeper. For the first week of training, two bolts prop the lid open fully and the birds get a feel for standing on the plate and putting their heads into the trough to eat. The second week, the bolts are lowered a notch so that the plate and lid move slightly when the plate is stepped on. The third week, the bolts are removed and the birds operate it themselves- when they step on the plate, the lid opens, when they step off, the lid closes.
Everyone in my flock, from the heaviest to the lightest bird, is comfortable using it. I appreciate that the feed is secure, that my chickens aren’t beaking it out onto the ground for rodents to clean up at night, that I don’t have to fill feeders as frequently, that my birds are eating clean feed 100% of the time, and I am saving loads of money on chicken feed!