Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feeding the Neighborhood

Remember when "chicken feed" was a term for something that didn't cost a lot? As in, "I bought it for chicken feed?" We e e ell. Chicken feed is a pretty penny now. And I'm not talking about fancy organic, high in omega shmega feed. Although I WISH I could afford to feed them that. No, we get the cheapest the farm store has to offer. And it still costs so much that I seriously cut down on the size of future flocks when we switched from free range to a run. Yes we can keep more birds alive in the pen, but we have to balance out the costs. You can't get chicken feed for -umm- chicken feed anymore.

I've been really frustrated at the amount of feed we've had to buy for the past several weeks. We cut back some more on the number of hens (and one mean old roo!) and kept only one layer, the 3 Silkies, and our little flock of 10 pullets. And still we are going through almost 50 pounds of feed a week!?! Where in the world could they be putting it?

Well, today, I changed up my routine a little bit. I had to run to town this morning for a medical test and I slept in too late to feed before I left. So I ran down to the coop as soon as I got home and guess what I discovered... a party at the chicken feeder! There in broad daylight were approximately 10 little birds (swallows? starlings?) circled around the feeder. They swooped out as soon as they realized I was there, stopping on the other side of the little door. I think they were demanding a refund from the Silkies that were guarding the entrance.

Now that I've had my "ah-ha" moment, it's time to figure out how to solve this expensive problem. Any suggestions?

10 comments:

  1. Wish I could help you on that one.....'cause that's the same problem we have. The local wildlife (birds, chipmunks, mice, rats, squirrels, etc.) end up eating more than their share at our chicken feeder. Could you put their feeder inside the coop? Might make it a bigger mess, but it might discourage the wildlife from snacking at your chicken table.

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    1. Unfortunately our feeder IS inside the coop. The moochers are going in and out through the same little door the chickens use.

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  2. There are chicken feeders that only open when the hen steps on a lever to eat. There's a short video of one here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEmCYtOf2d4 You can check Pinterest for more ideas. Hopefully you will find an answer soon. 50lbs of feed in a week is a lot of feed.

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    1. That was a cool video. I wonder how that would work with my hungry mob instead of just one bird. Hmmm.... wheels are turning...

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    2. Multiple feeders maybe? Keep those wheels turning. :-)

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    3. Wild birds are too light to open the door by stepping on it. You could just put out food in the morning instead of leaving it where the little birds will have access early in the morning before you get there.

      One morning I came out to find the cat from next door was hauling the whole turkey carcass. He ran away carrying it.

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    4. I'd like to feed only what they will clean up immediately. But I'm the only one here so I feed extra- in case of emergency. If something urgent would come up, it might be a day or two before they would get fed.
      And BAD KITTY!

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  3. I meant to say that lots of people are doing--growing fodder. That is just sprouting certain seeds. You might google that.

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    1. Fodder, eh? Now more wheels are turning. Hmmm

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