Two main types, guillotine doors and swing in door
The two feeders on the left are guillotine type , so named because the door swings up and down. The two feeders on the right are swing in doors.
Guillotine doors can trap a chicken’s head as the door swings up and down, also making it difficult to train the birds as the large door is coming right up in their face as they step on the treadle. Users report that a guillotine type feeder will take two to four weeks of training with the feeder blocked open for most of that time. These types feeders are prone to leaking in some of the more expensive models. Most will sport a rather large treadle step which allows rats, squirrels, and flocks of wild birds to overwhelm the treadle and access the feed. These feeders generally have a smaller feed capacity and are the cheapest of the treadle feeders mainly because the Chinese imported feeders are dropping prices on that style of feeder. There are no counter weighted models and no spring loaded door models so there is nothing that prevents larger rats and squirrels from simply pushing the door open to steal the feed.
Swing in door feeders are much safer and make it easier to train the birds as the door always swings away from the bird. Some models require the birds to lean way over and in to reach the feed and others have the feed delivered right to the front of the feeder. These feeders are more waterproof than the guillotine style feeders, safer for the birds, and much quicker training comes about due to the inward swinging doors. Some models do get a bit complicated and not all brands have robust door axles.
There is only one brand of swing in door feeder that is counter weighted and only one model, the same model actually, that has a spring loaded door so most of these brands of feeder are vulnerable to rats and squirrels pushing the door open.
Door axles are a big factor in durability of the feeders. Most guillotine style feeders rely on a complicated series of linkages that can wear and bind. The swing in door models generally will have either a wire axle or a welded steel axle.
- Galvanized sheet metal is predominant
- Some use plywood construction
- One brand uses plastic extensively
- Aluminum sheet metal is used by some European brands
Galvanized sheet metal is the best material, impervious to a rat’s gnawing teeth. Rats must continuously gnaw to wear down their teeth or the teeth will curl up into their heads. The gnawing also keeps the teeth razor sharp.
Plywood construction is easily chewed through and warps with moisture.
Plastic is easily chewed through by mice and rats, not recommended
Aluminum sheet metal can be chewed through by rats and mice as it is softer than galvanized steel sheet metal
- Guillotine style, swings up and down, more dangerous
- Swing in style, swings back and forth, much safer
- Aluminum/galvanized sheet metal wide steps
- Wire/mesh step
- Plastic grid wide step
- Wooden wide step
- Wood narrow and distant step
The wide sheet metal steps make it easier for smaller chickens to use the feeders but they also make it easier for the rats, mice, wild birds, and squirrels to push the feeder door open. Not a single one of these style feeders are advertised as rat proof or squirrel proof.
Wire mesh treadle steps tend to clog with chicken manure and litter which makes the treadle step heavier, changing the force needed to open the feeder and defeating the purpose of the feeders. Their wide steps also allow vermin easier access to the feed.
Plastic degrades in UV light, is brittle at cold temperatures, tends to flex and warp more than steel or aluminum treadle steps. Like the wire mesh treadle steps chicken mature and litter will clog the grids, making the treadle heavier and altering the balance and weight required to open the feeder door.
The plywood/solid wood feeders usually have a wooden or plywood step that is wide, making it less rat resistant.
Only one brand has the narrow and distant step. That feeder uses a one piece metal bar with a narrow wooden perch at the end, making it impossible for vermin to overwhelm the feeder treadle and reach the feed.
Grandpa feeders were one of the first commercial treadle feeders, imported from New Zealand, and were quickly adopted by the backyard chicken community. They were very expensive, over $225.00 by the time you shipped them to your home. But they did work.
Precision Pet Wood Treadle Chicken Feeder
This feeder is amazing only because it is still on the market. On Amazon 42% of the reviews were one star, 18 reviews were positive and 48 were negative so it is amazing that the product is still being sold on Amazon.
Rat Proof Chicken Feeder
This feeder made by The Carpenter Shop stands out above all the others despite it being one of the lower priced feeders. It’s not a pretty feeder but it has a lot of positive reviews online and it has been working flawlessly in our coop.
Feed o Matic
Made by Olba in Europe this feeder is probably the best looking feeder on the market but doesn’t work very well. To start with anytime you see plastic in something that is supposed to keep rats out you just have to wonder. Then the feeder clogs constantly and cleaning is hard.
Chicken Condo Treadle Feeder
Chicken Condo calls their feeder a Rodent-Resistant Automatic Chicken Feeder. The feeder itself is a modified Chow Hound dog feeder with a sturdy treadle fitted and a rudimentary but some what adjustable counterweight. A similar product sold by CoopsNMore had been sold but was pulled off the market after many complaints.
Chinese Treadle Feeder Bins
The Chinese treadle feeder bin has a treadle and feed bin but no hopper of feed that gravity feeds down. It is an inexpensive feeder but can only safely store about a quarter of it’s capacity due to feed raking. These can be bought in container quantity for around $10.00 to $15.00 each over in China.
MA 2017 Treadle Feeder Bin
.This is a U.S. made copy of the Chinese treadle feeder bin model. It has many improvements upon the deficiencies of the Chinese model, including better components, a feed lip so more feed can be safely stored, but it still has the dangers of an overhead feeder bin door and the accompanying long training period.
For Future Feeders