Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge
Before you settle on a feeder or drinker, you'll have to think through the following points:
Need to get an idea of how big your equipment needs to be? Here's a handy table to guide you:
Up to 4 chickens
5 to 10 chickens
Over 10 chickens
Plastic will be the cheapest option. Metals like stainless steel or galvanised steel will last longer and are generally easier to clean. Transparent plastic will quickly turn green as algae forms on the walls of the drinker.
It's not a good idea to place your chicken feeder or waterer directly on the ground. Instead you should go for hanging models or those equipped with feet. This will help to prevent your water or food from getting contaminated by droppings or debris. Some models are designed to be filled from the outside so you don't have to open the door of the coop.
These days, it's even possible to find feeders or drinkers in a range of colours to brighten up your chicken coop!
Chicken feeder troughs are pretty much the most basic feeders on the market. Usually measuring about 35 cm to one metre, these feeders can be used by multiple chickens at once – but bear in mind your chickens will need about 15 cm of space each.
These troughs are often equipped with a cover to avoid waste. This may be:
Treadle chicken feeders are essential if you have a lot of chickens or if you tend to leave home for a couple of days at a time. The feed is stored inside the feeder and is released gradually to a feeder tray as the chickens eat. Treadle feeders come with a removable cover for filling and can boast a capacity of up to a dozen kilos. You might also be able to adjust the speed at which the feed is released.
A plastic feed compartment will allow you to see how much feed is left so you know when to top up. If you think your feeder might have to cope with a bit of rainfall, it's best to invest in a model with a little roof. This type of accessory can also be bought separately.
More expensive than a basic trough or treadle feeder, these models are equipped with a mechanism that releases food when your chickens step on a pedal. Small pests like mice, rats or birds won't be heavy enough to trigger the mechanism meaning your food is kept out of harm's way!
A bowl of water weighted down with a stone might do the trick for one or two birds, but it's always preferable to get a specially designed water system.
These basic models feature a tank of water that sits in the centre of top of a tray that has to be filled manually.
The water is contained in a tank and trickles down into a tray as needed (just like a treadle feeder). The water in the tray should always remain at the same level and will keep your chickens hydrated without any risk of waste or a contaminated water supply.
Cup drinkers can be secured to a wall or a mesh grid at the right height for your chickens. Several cup drinkers can be linked to the same water tank. These waterers work using the same concept as a basic bottle drinker.
If you have a large flock, you might be tempted to invest in an automatic drinker that can be supplied by your home water supply or a separate water tank.
Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge, 83 guides
When I was young, I was already working in the family garden. Perhaps that is where my interest in plants and gardening came from. So, it was logical for me to study both plant biology and agronomy. At the request of various publishers I have, over twenty-five years, written many books on the subject of plants and mushrooms (a subject that is close to my heart).They were mostly identification guides at first, but shortly after they were about gardening, thus renewing the first passion of my childhood. I have also regularly collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of gardening or more generally in nature. There is no gardener without a garden, I have cultivated mine in a small corner of Cambridge for the last thirty years and this is where I put into practice the methods of cultivation that will I advise you in as well.