Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Treadle chicken feeder

In the world of chicken feeders, the treadle feeder seems to be the most innovative solution.  These feeders keep your laying pellets inside a closed container, so rats, sparrows, and water can't get in.  When a chicken wants to eat, she just jumps up on the lever, which automatically opens the door and lets her dine at her leisure.

Grandpa's Feeders are the best online version I stumbled across, and I've heard multiple chicken-keepers sing their praises.  The feeders are expensive ($210 once you add in shipping), but the quality looks top-notch.  The Carpenter Shop has a cheaper version ($65 plus shipping), although it looks like you have to jump through a lot of hoops to order one online.

Treadle chicken feederOr you can make your own!  Designs abound on the internet --- check out this one by Backyard Chickens to start, this one in Grit, or this elegant one from Woodworking Corner.

Have you built your own treadle feeder?  Did you have trouble training your flock to hop on the lever?  I'm very interested to hear from anyone who's given one of these designs a try.

Our automatic chicken waterer keeps the mess out of chicken-keeping.

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I have one. I love the concept. But could never get the hens used to it. I got them to eat out of it propped open. But when I backed off so that there was movement on the treadle when they stepped on it. They FREAKED. They figured out how to stand at the side of the thing and croon their necks inside under the lid to get to the feed. I was afraid they'd go hungry so I never went any further. It still has the brick on it to prop it open. If others have ideas on how to train hens to use it, I'm all ears.

Oh, and just bought my first home made chicken waterer. I'm less than optimistic on how to train them to use that. Love the concept of clean water all the time.

Comment by Flock Mistress at lunch time on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Flock Mistress --- What a shame that you couldn't get them to use it! That's a very elegant-looking one you pictured on your blog. Where did you find it?
Comment by anna at teatime on Monday, November 5th, 2012

How funny. I'm trolling the internet on how to train hens to use a treadle feeder and I stumble upon my comment from last year. Well, gave up trying to teach them then. Left the thing propped open. Was about to junk it when I went out the other night and saw a rat. UGH. So figured it's time to try again. I have it propped half open so they have to get used to the movement. They are of course FREAKED out by it. I've been using meal worms to train them.

I'm really frustrated right now but it's only been a few hours. I'll try and stick with this for at least a few weeks before I totally give up. I mean, come on, if everyone else's hens can figure it out, surely mine can too.

And Dan at the Green Chicken Coop built it. But I don't think he makes them anymore. Just coops.

Comment by Flock Mistress Sunday evening, September 1st, 2013
The hens need a training time. First leave it open, for about 5 days, then fix it so there is just half the movement of the lid and they can get food. When they are at ease with that, go all the way and release it , slit can be used as intended.
Comment by Anonymous early Monday morning, January 20th, 2014
So far the Feeder is winning the IQ test. Five of my seven hens would rather starve to death than step up on the treadle. However, two of my seven have had the lightbulb moment and can open the Feeder at will. Their flockmates hang around waiting for one of the two geniuses to step up and open the feast for them. I am determined to get the other five on board. Especially because the two lowest-pecking order girls will indeed perish if they don't figure it out. The others rarely let them get a nibble or two before the pecks rout them from the Feeder. I did indeed follow the directions that came with the Grandpa Feeder. One full week leaving the treadle locked in place keeping the lid wide open. Followed by one full week leaving the treadle only half depressed with the lid half open, and now it's been two weeks with the lid closed. I'm now thinking of a makeshift ramp that will reach the treadle. Maybe that will trigger some inspiration. We shall see. We live in hope...
Comment by Carolyn252 late Saturday afternoon, August 27th, 2016

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