Pros and cons of automatic chicken feeders

Wooden automatic chicken feederAutomatic chicken feeders are
a slightly more controversial topic than
automatic chicken waterers.  Although it may seem
like a good idea to let your chickens eat as much as they want,
chickens will actually be healthier if you restrict their diet to
ensure they don’t get too fat

The other potential
problem with automatic feeders lies in chickens’ tendency to
selectively eat the corn and ignore the higher protein components of
store bought feed.  If your chickens are depending solely on store
bought rations (for example, if they’re confined to a small run or if
winter has killed back all the wild food), their tendency to gorge on
high energy but low nutritional value corn can malnourish your
birds.  As a result, automatic feeders can actually result in
in some

On the other hand, if
your chickens have plenty of pasture,
chicken keepers report that giving chickens free choice corn cuts back
on overall feed costs

Joel Salatin had similar results with feeding corn to his pastured
poultry, counting on the flock to hunt down their protein in the grass.

Automatic chicken feeder lidThe best way to take
advantage of this feed cost savings is to provide your chickens with
side by side automatic feeders — one full of whole corn, and one full
of a balanced ration.  That way, snacking chickens eat out of the
corn feeder rather than picking the corn out of the other feeder and
spilling the parts they don’t like as much.  You might want to add
a third automatic feeder with free choice minerals for even better

I prefer to feed my
flock by hand, but one of these days I do plan to build an automatic
chicken feeder.  We won’t use it daily, but will fill it up when
we go out of town to ensure the flock has dry food while we’re away.

(By the way, the
automatic chicken feeder shown here is my father’s invention, made out
of scrap plywood.  He made a box with a
hole near the bottom where chickens can stick their beaks in, then he
added a hinged top so he can easily fill the feeder up.  An extra
partway down makes sure the feed always stays dry.  You might also
enjoy reading about Everett’s
PVC pipe feeder
and Michael’s
very low budget automatic feeder

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