When a representative of Grandpa’s Feeders in New Zealand
contacted me about test-driving one of their treadle feeders, I was not inclined initially to try one 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 to keep rodents out of the feed and I didn’t have a problem with rodents- or so I thought.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 feeder that started at ~$200 a pop…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.
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, the feeder would pay for itself in short order. But feed lost to rodent consumption is not the only price paid for the presence of rodents- they 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.
I just received the feeders last week, so this isn’t as much a review of the product as it is an introduction to the product. Here’s how they work: 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 11ounces. Rats, mice, sparrows, rabbits, squirrels, etc are all 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 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. Ya 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, but it 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.
Interestingly, my Tolbunt Polish Frizzle pullets, Calista Flockheart and Ally McBeak were the first to explore the standard feeder in one run and Doc Brown, my White Crested Black Polish pullet, was the first to check out the feeder in the other run as the bigger birds looked on curiously. Next week, we lower the bolts to the second position. Within the first week, everyone was eating from the feeder!