There are as many different types of feeders for baby chicks to full grown chickens available as you might well imagine. We have tried a number of them, certainly no where near the full line of what is available.
We started with the small round feeders we picked up at the local farm supply. These are the round plastic base feeders with the half quart bottle screwed to the top. Initially we set them on the floor and the baby chicks had no problems getting to the feed and would empty the feeder pretty regularly.
We also tried a galvanized version of the same feeder, this base designed to make use of a Mason jar or something similar. We used several different jars in our attempt to find the one that fit best and held the best amount of feed for the chicks size. After the second season, we quit trying to make use of it. The base did not fit any of the jars very well, and often enough to be a bother, it would become separated from the jar and end up on the floor and trampled over with chicks and their droppings. I don’t recommend this one.
As the chicks grew, we added blocks of wood under the feeders to help keep them at the right height for the chicks to easily reach their feed.
Very quickly they are able to mess up their feeders with the pine shavings we used for bedding filling the openings. The raised blocks helped with this problem, but did not cure it. And it was not long before the chicks found their way into using the feeder as a convenient place for their droppings, never mind they would later want to eat from that same place. So cleaning is a frequent chore. And as soon as the chicks were able, their favorite past time was to get on top of the feeder, and of course, the droppings quickly fell into the feed again, and more cleaning on the way.
After a while, I drilled a small hole in the container, and pushed in a cotter pin and spread it out, using it to hang the feeder from a small chain. This made it easy to keep the height at the right level for the chickens to eat, and with the swinging action made it difficult for the chicks to stand on the feeder, so made it a lot cleaner and easier to manage. Later, I drilled two larger holes, about 3/4″ diameter close to each other, and removed the bits of plastic in between. This allowed for the insertion of a small funnel to fill the feeders without the need to remove them from the brooder.
Depending on how often you are able to check on your chicks, two feeders for the first ten chicks and another for each additional ten chicks seemed to work well for us. All in all, I think these work well particularly if you can modify them slightly to hang them. The waterers use the same container with a different screw on base, so the containers must be modified to hang for the feeders. A molded tab on top to hang both feeders and waterers would be a welcome design enhancement.
We also tried the galvanized tray feeders, and tried hanging them from chains as well. We found they were just too susceptible to the chicks standing on top of it and making a mess of the feeder. I don’t recommend them.
As the chicks grew so did their feed consumption. It wasn’t long before we added a larger feeder to keep up with the demand. We found a 7 pound hanging feeder at our local feed store and purchased two of them. Amazon sells these in an 11 pound size, with an optional cover for the top to keep the hens from sitting on top and using as a toilet. Ours hang in the chicken coop from a wood frame used to support the nest boxes. We have not had any issue with the hens getting on top of this feeder in this location, and again, hanging from chains has made it easy to keep the height adjusted to the chickens as they continued to grow to full size. We used two feeders for 38 chickens and filled once daily. Later, predators reduced the flock size down some, but the feed rate stayed about the same for the 29 remaining chickens. The feed rate has diminished now that they are free ranging and we only fill once every few days. This feeder has worked well for both crumbles and pellets. We will add a few pieces of crushed oyster shell into the feeders from time to time. The oyster shell is heavier than the feed so drops to the bottom quick enough. The hens will pick the oyster shell as needed and when we see it nearly depleted in the bottom we will add a handful to the feeder. As the hens start laying, their consumption of the oyster shell increases somewhat.