Chicken Feeders for small chicken flocks
Chicken feeders for a small chicken flock are very different than a large commercial farm chicken feeders. The large barn chicken feeders are going to be nearly fully automated using motors and conveyor belts, and will pull chicken feed from a feed silo. A small chicken flock on a hobby farm is going to use small stand alone feeders that the farmer needes to keep replenished.
Most commercial chicken feeders available will be either galvanized or plastic. One style of them will be a tower type feeder and the other style chicken feeders is a flat low feeder. The plastic chicken feeders and galvanized chicken feeders run in similar sizes and cost about the same. Selecting one or the other will be primarily personal preference.
The size of the tower chicken feeders run between 3 pound and 11 pound, even as large as 22 pounds. The size of the flock will to some extent dictate the size of the feeder needed to feed all the chickens. Or multiple smaller feeders will be needed. There should be enough feeders to allow each chicken about 4 inches of trough space at the chicken feeder. Figuring with this requirement a hanging feeder that is a foot in diameter would feed 9 to 10 chickens.
To help reduce feed waste, hang the feeders with the trough level with the chickens back. This will help keep the chickens from attempting to scratch at the feed and wasting it. Rodents, like mice and rats, will also eat quite a bit of chicken feed, if allowed.
Build your own chicken feeder
It is not difficult to build a simple gravity style chicken feeder. Build a simple tower out of a some scrap lumber and at the bottom make a couple small holes, or trough, that lets the feed drain out into a small pile. As the chickens eat from the feeder more feed will flow down to be available to other chickens. Be sure to put a top on the feeder or the chickens will try to roost on the edge of the feeder top, preferably a sloped top or lid that will keep the chickens from standing on the top.
Another simple chicken feeder can be built by using a larger diameter piece of pipe or stove pipe that feeds down into a slightly larger bowl. Attach the bowl to the bottom of piece of pipe leaving about an inch of space between the bottom of the pipe for the feed to flow out through.
Chickens instinctively will scratch and peck at the ground so some feed on the ground isn't necessarily a bad thing as the chickens will clean up most if not all of it.
Chickens that have access to free range or pasture will require less feed than caged chickens. A free range chicken flock can also get by with less than 4 inches of trough per bird because they'll gather some of their feed from the seemingly random scratching and pecking.
Kitchen scraps can also be fed to the chickens in an amount that they will clean up in about 10 to 20 minutes. This can also supliment the regular chicken feed ration for the chicken flock.
Chicken Feeders for chicks
If you use a chicken incubator to hatch your own eggs the low trough style chicken feeder can be used for the chicks. The small feeders that attach to quart jars are also handy for feeding chicks in a brooder.