Birds are messy. Please don’t judge my hen yard. I know it’s messy. It would be even messier if I were still using the first type of feeder I tried at Mezzacello. One of those hanging affairs with a red bowl that releases food to the chickens and ducks to eat at their will. It’s a great design, just no in a city environment. If you don’t put it away at night it attracts mice, raccoons and rats. If you put it into the locked run, they knock all of the food out into the run and that becomes a mess. It also attracts rats. The other big problem with this type of open air feeder is small birds. They eat half the feed. Even when I switched the feed from crumble to pellets, they still swoop in by the 10s and 20s and gobble up large portions of food. And they bring an insidious guest with them; lice and mites.

This stainless steel treadle feeder is great for keeping food dry and accessible to poultry. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

So I have tried a few iterations to try to feed the poultry in a clean and efficient way. I finally came across this great contraption. It’s called a treadle feeder and it is deceptively simple. It’s a stainless steel box that holds five gallons of feed. The top is rainproof and secured. There is a hood to keep rain out of the feed basin below. The cool thing about this feeder is the spring activated treadle. It must be stepped up to open the lid to the feed tray (just like a hands free trash can lid; you step on the pedal and it opens). This treadle is also weighted. Whatever steps on it MUST weigh at LEAST 10 grams to activate it. That eliminates birds and small rodents. I did not know this, but raccoons are averse t stepping on anything that moves, so it’s raccoon and possum proof as well.

A clear view of how the treadle feeder works. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Since I started using the treadle feeder at Mezzacello last year, I have had to buy 40% less feed that in 2018. It is a remarkable device. It’s not cheap, $130 but well worth the cost and peace of mind. I simply step on the treadle in the morning to insure there is food there. If no food I just unhook the spring hooks on the lid, open the lid and fill it. No more food theft and 70% fewer little birds to crap and bring their pests along with them.

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