Sunday, April 1, 2012

Treadle Feeder

First a quick update for those who have been following my flock integration.  It's been a nightmare.  I hit bottom last week and seriously toyed with giving everything away, chickens included.  But after lots of research and help from fellow chicken owners, have come to the conclusion that a separate hen house for the babies is in order.

So, until this coop arrives, I've been putting the babies into the dog crate at night to sleep.  And it's really rather amazing, but the whole flock dynamic has changed.  Everyone is much calmer.  There's significantly less pecking and feather pulling.  And while I have trouble believing that it was all because Ginger and Coco didn't want to share their house, it appears that was indeed the case.

I ordered a treadle feeder for my girls about a month ago and it finally arrived.  These are also known as rat proof feeders because they require the chicken to step on a platform to open the lid to get to the food. They are nice because you can really load them up with lots of feed and not worry about attracting critters into your run at night.

Unfortunately, it didn't come with directions.  I've emailed the man who made it and I'm sure those will come shortly.  But as I recall from my research back when I ordered it, you prop it open for about a week to get them used to the feeder.  Then you back it off half way and force them to step on the platform to get used to the movement of the treadle and the lid opening in front of them.  Once they all master the concept, again after about a week, you can back it all the way off and voila.

But you must watch your flock dynamic and make sure that EVERYONE mastered the skill or else you might end up with a hen or two who can't get to the food.  So we'll take it slow and see how it goes.

My girls are serious creatures of habit and did not like the feeder at first.  They walked around it, and there was much discussion about this new feeder in their run.  But slowly, each of them stepped up to it and realized it was full of food and here we are several hours later and I can see that they've been eating well out of it.

Coco isn't normally one to want her picture taken but was eager to pose with the new feeder.

And a profile shot that shows the brick on the treadle holding it open.  I selected this style because of it's wide, stable
base.  Some other models can tip over easily.  I also really liked the clear plastic cover over the food so they can see the food inside and hopefully, that will make training go easier.

And a shot of Sugar and Honey Bear.  All three babies now weigh just over 4lbs.  I think they are going to be bigger
than Ginger.  And they are really starting to mature.  Their faces and wattles are turning red.  Their combs are popping up with the 7 points which is how Orpington's combs should look.  They are much darker than Ginger.  Not sure if they'll lighten up eventually or if they are from a slightly different blood line than Ginger and that's how they'll look.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Flock Mistress,
    I'm sorry that your integration of the young girls has been so frustrating. I've been following your story closely because I am often tempted to add to my flock. I'm hoping they become a cohesive group soon.
    Also, thank you for posting about the treadle feeder. I like the concept of it.