Let me introduce to you the newest addition to the chicken pen. It isn’t a chicken, but it’s almost as exciting: an auto-feeder!
I’ve been wanting an auto-feeder for ages, but they aren’t cheap. This Feed-o-matic was $125. Here’s why I wanted one and why I love it:
- It saves money on chicken food because the wild birds can no longer scoff it. Nor can rodents, slugs, cockroaches and other sneaky critters. It will pay for itself over time.
- It reduces transmission of diseases, mites, lice, etc. from wild birds jumping around and pooping everywhere.
- It keeps the food dry and clean, reducing waste, cleaning time and diseases.
- It holds a decent amount of food (16kg) so if we go away we don’t have to get someone to feed the chickens all the time.
- I don’t have to get outside early in the morning to put the chickens’ food out (although I’m still getting up early because hey, getting stuff done).
So far, the only downsides to this feeder are the cost and the fact that only one or two chickens can feed at a time. This just means that chickens have to wait their turn. It took two to three days for them to get used to this weird thing that makes a noise and moves when they stand on the green bit. I started by propping the shutter open so they could see the food and get it without the noise and movement. The chickens were like, “What is that terrifying thing and where’s our food?! Help, human!!!” The first two chickens to eat from the feeder were Josephine and Juliette, my Christmas pullets. Not who I’d expect, especially not Josephine who is a real hang backer. Then I realised that the breeder I bought them from uses auto-feeders. Aha! This was quite helpful in teaching the other chickens how to use it. Mr Darcy was next to have a crack at it, closely followed by Colonel Fitzwilliam, and one by one they learnt that if they wanted to eat, this was what they had to do.
The two excess cockerels, Mr Crowpants and Mr Snowpants have been butchered. They needed to move with all the demo work going on and Mr Crowpants was getting rather noisy anyway. The Husband was conveniently going out the evening I butchered them, so his training will have to wait until next time. And there ought not to be any butchering for a while.
The two remaining cockerels are getting along very well so far. It’s quite handy that my two favourites have always gotten along well. They have been rather quiet so far, only crowing at coop-exiting time in the morning. My previous roosters, and many of their offspring, were far more crowy than this, so it’s a nice change. I wonder how much of crowing is learnt from other males and how much is just innate. At the moment, Colonel Fitzwilliam is the boss, but they really are rather polite to each other, preferring stare-offs and the occasional bluster.
Meanwhile, the demo work continues in the coop/woodshed area, albeit a little more slowly than I would like. But that’s always the way isn’t it? More on that next time.