Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

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Icemaiden
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Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

Post by Icemaiden » Sat Dec 07, 2019 7:25 pm

I invested in a Grandpa's treadle feeder about six weeks ago, as we'd started to get uninvited guests with scaly tails. The feeder came with instructions for getting the hens used to it.

For the first week the feeder had the training bolts holding the feeder open & the treadle plate fixed down. The hens took to using the feeder straight away.

After a week, as per instructions, I moved the training bolts into the lower holes. This means that the treadle moves about an inch when stepped on & the feeder is half open when not in use. The instructions are clear: only feed the hens via the feeder & when they're hungry enough, they'll use it. I did just that, hoping that they'd eat if they were hungry enough, but after a week they were all skin and feathers, so I relented and put the feeder back into fully-open mode. It took a few days for them to lose their fear and start using the feeder freely again.

I gave them a couple of weeks to put some weight back on before trying the feeder in part-open mode again, but again they're terrified of the movement of the treadle plate. If they step on it, the movement causes them to run away rather than stay & eat.

I've put silicone tubing over the bolts to reduce the clanking noise, am keeping the feeder pretty full to reduce noise and have had to fix some boards either side of the feeder to stop the girls from reaching into the feeder from the sides. I know the girls are hungry; they're going to bed with empty crops, pooing much less than usual and Holly's pecking my fingers in desperation, but they just won't persevere with the feeder!!

Any suggestions would be most welcome. I really need them to get to grips with this:-(
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LadyA
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Re: Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

Post by LadyA » Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:50 am

I've had a grandpa's feeder for several years, through several batches of hens, but have never had much trouble with them learning to use it. Some learn much quicker than others. I normally give them a minimum of ten days to two weeks on each stage. And I've always found that, when they start usyit, one or two will be braver than the rest about standing on the treadle. The rest take their chance to feed from the side when the brave one has it open. I've never had any of them get stuck in it.
You could try leaving a bit of corn or other treat on the treadle and a little in the feeder, on top of the pellets. I had to do that with the lot I've got now, they were very slow to use it. They needed two weeks with it fully open, and another three weeks with it half open. It's definitely worth persevering. Just don't forget to close it at night!

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Icemaiden
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Re: Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

Post by Icemaiden » Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:07 am

Thanks for replying, LadyA.

I've been worrying about the hens going to bed hungry, especially in the frosty weather, & about the amount of weight that they're losing... I hadn't thought of closing the feeder at night though. Will do.

I have put corn in the feeder & bits on the treadle plate. They eat the bits off the treadle plate (from a safe distance) but won't eat the treats inside unless they can reach them from the side... I'm sure ex-batts would've got it all worked out by now!
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Hen-Gen
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Re: Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

Post by Hen-Gen » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:07 am

That’s strange. Mine took to them quite quickly. Perhaps yours are ‘special’.
Seriously though check that bedding or something else hasn’t got under the treadle that’s preventing it working. Also that the treadle is sufficiently free moving so that it opens with the weight of one hen. As LadyA implies you could fill the feeder for a few days with mixed corn because usually hens find this very palatable and it may increase their enthusiasm about standing on the plate.
Finally they are useless for me because hordes of starlings go in my houses through the pop holes and stand en masse on the plate so they can open it and eat all the pellets. In addition they poo everywhere.
I’m beginning to think that those ones where they peck a little dispenser and a small amount of feed falls out may be the way to go.
Also I don’t think they should ever be used outside. The feed gets damp, clogs together and becomes unpalatable.
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Icemaiden
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Re: Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

Post by Icemaiden » Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:04 pm

Hi Hen-Gen.
The treadle is working fine, even when I pick up my now very lightweight White Leghorn (Holly) and put her down gently on the treadle plate. The issue is that the moment the feeder moves, they run away!!!

We had a bit of a breakthrough this morning though. For the last few mornings Holly has been pecking at my hands out of hunger, so I've been able to pick her up, put her gently onto the treadle plate and hold her there until she stops trying to run off & eats instead. I've then been able to step away & leave her eating, at which point the others pile in & eat too. All's then well until everyone steps off and the feeder closes, at which point they won't go back to it.

This morning for the first time I saw Holly go back to the feeder, open it and stay on it to eat rather than running away in a flap. She still wasn't keen on the movement, but hopefully it's a step (literally) in the right direction...
Now I just need the others to get brave enough to open it for themselves rather than letting Holly do the brave bit & then barging her out of the way once it's open!!!
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bigyetiman
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Re: Grandpa's feeder: hens on hunger strike

Post by bigyetiman » Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:41 am

Well done Holly, and you. Now you have made the breakthrough, hopefully the rest will quickly get used to it
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