General Husbandry

Handling

Housing your
Chickens

Free-range

Feeding your
Chickens

Equipment

Routines

Holiday
arrangements

Husbandry: Equipment

Commercially produced specialised feeders and drinkers are readily available and help keep feed and water clean by not allowing the birds to defecate in it.

The feeders allow ad lib feeding which means that more feed is put in than the chickens can eat in one day. Hens are good at eating what they need for egg production and only get too fat if too many grains are fed. The feeder can be hung up at hen shoulder height and is best with a lid on the top to prevent perching and therefore mucking in the feed. If rats are a nuisance, the feeder should be removed at night.

Gravity feeder with anti-flick guard

There are also metal feeders available which act on the weight of the bird, so she stands on a treadle which opens the feed area – rat-proof!

There is a spiral feeder gadget which allows a small amount of pellets and/or wheat to descend when pecked and is attached to a plastic drum, discouraging rodents and wild birds.

Spiral feeder is put at the base of a plastic drum

Drinkers can be of varying sizes and made of plastic (cheaper but not very long-lasting) or galvanised metal (more expensive but last for many years). The larger sizes can be very heavy when full and difficult to keep ice-free. In severe weather, a simple plastic washing-up bowl with slightly sloping sides will allow ice to be tipped out and may need to be refreshed several times a day.

Vacuum drinker, green base Vacuum drinker, red base

Remember to only use plastic drinkers if providing cider vinegar in the water (see Health and Disease, Prevention section).