How Do You Choose The Right Chicken Feeder?

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“I’m starting a small backyard chicken coop and I’m overwhelmed by all the feeder options. How do I choose the right chicken feeder for my flock? I have 6 hens and want to make sure they’re well-fed without wasting food or attracting pests. Any advice?” Thanks a bunch, Sandra, Brisbane, Australia.

How to Choose the Right Chicken Feeder: A Comprehensive Guide

Hey Sandra! Congratulations on starting your backyard chicken coop in Brisbane. It’s great that you’re putting so much thought into choosing the right feeder for your flock of six hens. Selecting the appropriate chicken feeder is crucial for maintaining a healthy and happy flock while minimizing waste and pest problems. Let’s explore the various factors you need to consider to make the best choice for your feathered friends.

Understanding the Importance of a Good Chicken Feeder

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of feeder types, it’s essential to understand why choosing the right feeder matters. A well-designed chicken feeder can:

  • Ensure your chickens have constant access to fresh food
  • Reduce feed waste and save you money
  • Minimize the attraction of pests and wild birds
  • Save you time on daily chicken care
  • Promote healthier feeding habits among your flock

Now that we’ve established the importance, let’s dive into the factors you should consider when selecting a feeder for your Brisbane backyard flock, Sandra.

Types of Chicken Feeders

There are several types of chicken feeders available, each with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s explore the most common options:

1. Trough Feeders

Trough feeders are long, open containers that allow multiple chickens to eat simultaneously. They’re great for your flock of six, Sandra, as they promote social feeding.


  • Easy to clean and refill
  • Allows multiple chickens to eat at once
  • Suitable for different types of feed


  • Can lead to feed waste if overfilled
  • May attract pests if left uncovered
  • Requires more frequent refilling

2. Hanging Feeders

Hanging feeders are suspended above the ground and often have a circular design with multiple feeding ports.


  • Keeps feed off the ground, reducing waste and contamination
  • Can be adjusted to accommodate growing chickens
  • Often have larger capacities, requiring less frequent refills


  • May be more challenging for smaller or less aggressive chickens to access
  • Can swing, potentially spilling feed
  • Might require training for chickens to use initially

3. Automatic Feeders

Automatic feeders dispense food at set intervals or on-demand, which could be a time-saver for you, Sandra.


  • Reduces daily maintenance
  • Can control portion sizes
  • Ideal for busy chicken keepers


  • More expensive than manual options
  • May malfunction, potentially leaving chickens without food
  • Some models can be complicated to set up and use

4. PVC Pipe Feeders

These DIY-friendly feeders are made from PVC pipes with holes cut for access.


  • Inexpensive and easy to make
  • Can be customized to your flock’s size
  • Keeps feed dry and clean


  • May require some DIY skills to construct
  • Can be difficult to clean thoroughly
  • Might not be aesthetically pleasing for some backyard setups

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Feeder

Now that we’ve covered the main types of feeders, Sandra, let’s look at the crucial factors you should consider for your Brisbane flock:

1. Flock Size

With six hens, you’ll want a feeder that can accommodate all of them comfortably. A trough feeder or a medium-sized hanging feeder would likely be suitable for your flock size.

2. Space Available

Consider the size of your coop and run. If space is limited, a hanging feeder might be more efficient. For larger areas, you have more flexibility in your choices.

3. Climate

Brisbane’s subtropical climate means you’ll need to consider moisture and heat. Look for feeders that keep food dry and prevent mold growth. Covered feeders or those with rain guards are ideal.

4. Type of Feed

Different feeds may require different feeder designs. For example:

  • Pellets and crumbles work well in most feeder types
  • Whole grains might require a trough or ground feeder
  • Wet feeds need shallow, easy-to-clean containers

5. Waste Reduction

To minimize waste and keep pests at bay, consider feeders with the following features:

  • Lips or edges to catch spilled feed
  • Covered designs to protect from rain and deter wild birds
  • Adjustable flow control to prevent overfilling

6. Ease of Cleaning

Regular cleaning is crucial for preventing disease. Choose a feeder that’s easy to disassemble and clean thoroughly. Smooth surfaces and rounded corners are easier to keep clean than complex designs with nooks and crannies.

7. Durability

Invest in a feeder made from sturdy materials that can withstand pecking, scratching, and the elements. Galvanized metal, high-quality plastic, or wood treated with chicken-safe sealants are good options.

8. Capacity and Refill Frequency

Consider how often you want to refill the feeder. Larger capacities mean less frequent refills but ensure the feed doesn’t sit too long and become stale or moldy in Brisbane’s humid climate.

Preventing Pests and Maintaining Hygiene

Sandra, since you mentioned concerns about attracting pests, here are some additional tips to keep your chicken feeding area clean and pest-free:

  • Place feeders inside the coop or in a covered run area
  • Use pest-proof feeders with secure lids
  • Clean up spilled feed regularly
  • Consider using a treadle feeder that only opens when a chicken stands on it
  • Avoid overfeeding, which can attract rodents and wild birds

DIY vs. Store-Bought Feeders

You might be wondering whether to buy a feeder or make your own. Here’s a quick comparison:

Store-Bought Feeders:

  • Ready to use out of the box
  • Often more durable and weather-resistant
  • Come in various designs to suit different needs
  • Can be more expensive

DIY Feeders:

  • Can be customized to your specific needs
  • Often more cost-effective
  • Allows for creativity and personal touches
  • May require more time and effort to construct

If you’re handy, Sandra, a DIY feeder could be a fun project and a great way to save money. However, if time is a constraint, a well-chosen store-bought feeder might be the better option for your Brisbane flock.

Adapting to Your Chickens’ Needs

Remember that your chickens’ needs may change over time. As your hens grow and seasons change, you might need to adjust your feeding strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different feeder types to find what works best for your flock.

Combining Feeder Types

Many chicken keepers find that using a combination of feeder types works best. For example, you might use a hanging feeder for daily feeding and a trough feeder for treats or supplements. This approach can provide variety and ensure all chickens have good access to food.

Feeder Placement

Where you place your feeder is almost as important as the type you choose. Consider these placement tips:

  • Position feeders away from nesting boxes to prevent contamination
  • Ensure feeders are protected from rain and direct sunlight
  • Place them at a height that’s comfortable for your chickens to access (usually about back height)
  • If using multiple feeders, space them out to prevent bullying and ensure all chickens have access

Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you’ve chosen and set up your feeder, it’s important to monitor how your chickens interact with it. Watch for signs that the feeder is working well, such as:

  • All chickens can access the feed comfortably
  • Minimal feed waste on the ground
  • No signs of pest intrusion
  • Chickens appear healthy and well-fed

If you notice any issues, don’t hesitate to make adjustments. This might involve changing the feeder type, adjusting its position, or modifying your feeding schedule.

Final Thoughts…

Sandra, choosing the right chicken feeder for your Brisbane flock is an important decision that will impact your daily chicken-keeping routine. Remember to prioritize waste reduction, pest prevention, and ease of use when making your choice. Consider starting with a hanging feeder or a trough feeder for your six hens, and don’t be afraid to adjust as you learn what works best for your specific situation.

Thank you for reaching out with your question. Your dedication to providing the best care for your chickens is admirable. With the right feeder and a bit of observation, you’ll soon have a efficient and hygienic feeding system that keeps your hens happy and healthy. Good luck with your backyard flock, and enjoy the fresh eggs!

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