Frequently Asked Questions

Can I call you for more information?  

Please do not call with questions.  This is a sideline to my cabinet shop and the time during the day is very precious as my overhead is enormous.  Calling is reserved for those few customers that don’t like to use PayPal or Dwalla and want to call in a credit card number.  If you have questions or need help please send us an email with pictures if needed to help us solve any problems that might arise.


Can bantams use the feeder?   

It depends if there are other full size birds in the flock.  Customers report that their bantams, geese, and ducks will eat from the side if they can’t operate the treadle.  This is a poultry feeder for all species and varieties if you add the Duck Step or Turkey Step. This feeder will stop the rats and mice from eating chicken feed if it is installed and adjusted correctly.

The rat proof chicken feeder is truly rat proof only because of two things: the weight difference between a grown bird and the difference in reach between a grown bird and a rat.   So the treadle must be set far back and there must be a two to three pound force used to open the feeder door.  Some tweaking is possible to allow smaller birds to use the feeder but when you do that you are also making the vermin proof feeder less effective.     You can gently stretch the spring a bit using two pairs ofpliers to lessen the force that holds the door shut but be careful, you can’t un-stretch a spring so do a little and test it, then do some more.

You can order a half weight in place of the full size weight if you email us in advance AND put that information in the instruction text box when you fill out the PayPal form.   A counterweight will cost around $10.00 to ship, almost as much as the feeder, so be sure and let us know in advance and on the payment form.

You can also order a special bantam treadle that is two inches closer to the feed door.   The special treadle also has extra counterweight holes punched so you can move the weight forward to lessen the amount of force needed to open the feeder.   There is also a product called the Duck Step, a larger platform that the smaller birds will find easier to use.   Just remember that adding bantam modifications reduces the ability of the feeder to keep the rats and squirrels away so sometimes it is just better to let the smaller birds eat while the big birds are eating.

 

Will the Rat Proof Chicken Feeder Defeat Squirrels?
Maybe… Many customers report that it solved their squirrel problems but one customer reported that her squirrels learned to cooperate to operate the feeder.  If you keep the treadle set pretty stiff and have  medium sized or large sized birds then the action can be kept stiff enough to defeat most squirrels.  Generally squirrels are territorial so you dealing with one squirrel, the exception being a mama squirrel with her current offspring.  Once they are adults though they will be driven away from the mama squirrel’s territory.   This is a poultry feeder but it is also bird proof, rat proof, and squirrel proof.

Is the Rat Proof Chicken Feeder Bird Proof?

It is a bird proof feeder too as the birds are too light and have too short of a reach to defeat the treadle.   Perhaps dozens of pigeons might overwhelm the feeder but you shouldn’t have your coop where that many pigeons can get inside much less to the feeder.  A half dozen of the flying rats couldn’t defeat the feeder so in that regard it is a bird proof chicken feeder.   So this feeder will stop birds from stealing and eating your chicken feed if property adjusted.

Do you make a large size Ratproof Chicken Feeder?

No, initially we considered making a larger feeder.  However several things make the idea unfeasible.  First problem is that the feeder already holds a half sack of feed and when you expand the size to allow a full sack the increased pressure requires much thicker gauge sheet metal.  Doubling the span of a beam quadruples the stress so the thickness must increase tremendously as does the cost of materials, the cost of shipping the extra weight, and it is so thick that a regular hand punch won’t punch through multiple layers.   When building the feeder and working on the back edge we must punch through three layers of side materials and back materials.    On the top door pivot holes you are punching through five layers!   We use thicker materials on the inner feed tray and on the lid on the medium feeder but when we tried using thicker gauge sheet metal on the sides we found that the assembly was much more difficult.

If we made a large feeder that would hold a full sack of feed it would cost over double what a medium feeder sells for which brings us to the second reason not to make a larger feeder.  The medium feeder holds 26 pounds of feed, just over a half sack. 

Two birds can eat at  the same time  and a full feeder will hold around 104 day’s rations, or would feed one bird for 104 days, two birds for 52 days, four birds for 26 days, eight birds for 13 days, or sixteen birds for 6.5 days.   The problem is that customers have told us that each rodent proof feeder will only handle around a dozen to sixteen birds before the competition for the feed early in the morning leads to fighting among the birds.   You are far better off buying two medium rodent proof feeders and having twice the space for the birds to eat at once rather than having one feeder that holds more feed than is needed.     

And that leads to the third problem that prevents us from making a larger version of the rat proof feeder, the weight and mass of the door and treadle.    Even with the counterweight balancing the door and treadle the bird has to move that mass so making a door that is twice as broad would open up a can of worms for the design.   A broader treadle would need thicker steel for the treadle bar, the broader door would need thicker sheet metal to prevent flexing, the wooden treadle step would be heavier, and all of that extra weight would require a heavier counterweight meaning more clearance for the weight as it would have to be bigger diameter.   So soon you would have a monstrosity that would cost way more than twice as much as two medium feeders, you would have feed stored that the birds couldn’t use up in several weeks, and there is no way that the lighter birds would ever be able to operate a door/treadle/counterweight system that weighed more than they do.

There are companies that make a 40 pound feeder but it makes no sense to lock away that much feed unless you want to have enough feed on hand to go away for a month without anyone checking on the flock.  Even then you would be better off with two feeders with the stored feed split between the two in case something happened to the single large feeder such as  the feed getting clogged or litter building up under the treadle.

 

Do you ship feeders internationally?

Unfortunately, no.  The paperwork is quite a barrier here in the U.S., requiring a visit to the local chamber of commerce to get the invoice certified and the time required to fill out the export paperwork.  However, there are companies  will accept a package from a U.S. based merchant, consolidate it with other packages for their customers, then forward everything in one shipment to keep the export paperwork to a minimum.

 

 This one  

charges between $60 and $90.00 to deliver a medium feeder to Canada or $88.00 to $144.00 to Australia.

This one

offers a wide variety of options and is a bit cheaper than the others.

If you Google “U.S. package forwarding service” you will find many companies that will consolidate items and reship to your country.   A chicken feeder has lots of empty space inside that can be filled with other  items.  Generally packages over a cubic foot will incur additional charges like Dimensional Weight, where the shippers charge extra weight for bulky packages.  As an example a medium feeder weighs 15 pounds but is charged as if it weighs 21 pounds by FedEx Ground so if you could pack six pounds of additional products inside the feeder you would ship that six pounds for free.

Can I use the feeder outside?

Yes, the original feeder was designed as an indoor feeder but we have a new exterior version that recesses the lower front panel back about a quarter of an inch so that any rain that hits the door will drip to the ground.  For those that free range their birds they need a bird proof feeder that is also waterproof.  Of course big critters like raccoons and possums will raid the feeder if you don’t secure it and it is outside.

How difficult is it to put the treadle back on the
feeder?
 

Not hard at all.   Three to five minutes to un box and replace the treadle and counterweight.  You will need a pair of pliers and a
crescent wrench (or a 7/16″ and 10 mm wrench).   The treadle bar has to be bent around a bit after you bolt it on to make it look square with the front of the feeder and to prevent the counterweight from rubbing against the side of the feeder.   The treadle bar is only 1/8″ thick so even a child could bend it easily.
  If you aren’t the handy type find a neighbor or friend that is and stop the rats from eating your chicken feed once and for all.  No need to rat proof the chicken coop, just keep the feed away from the rats.

 

Can I put a wider wooden step on the treadle?

Yes you can and we sell a Duck Step and Turkey Step for that purpose.However, during the prototyping stage we found that rats are smart enough to cooperate in order to defeat the feeder if the step was too wide.   By setting the step way back the rats can’t reach the feed even if a dozen of them overwhelm the treadle  and counterweight system.  The second one rat started to eat the others would rush off the treadle and close the door.   Same thing on squirrels, they just aren’t long enough to depress the treadle and reach the feed.  Those pretty looking feeders on Amazon and eBay are nice looking but those wide steps will not stop a rat from eating your chicken feed.

Can I adjust the sensitivity of the treadle?

Somewhat.   There is a spring that keeps the door tightly closed and as part of the assembly and set up you should  gently and carefully stretch it out a bit at a time to make it easier to trip the treadle.    Some customers have chipped off part of the concrete counterweight so their lighter birds could use the feeder.   However doing that removes a lot of the rat resistance as a large rat
can then push the door open by pushing on the door itself.  You can
add weight to the treadle, replace the spring with rubber bands, get creative and you can adjust the feeder to fit any bird.   With some tinkering you can set the feeder so the rats can’t eat the chicken feed.

What do I do if the feeder arrives damaged or if I
need help in assembling the feeder?

If any damage occurs keep all of the boxing and inner packing so you can ship the product back if needed.    Take pictures of the
damaged parts and send us some closeup pictures and a shot showing the entire feeder on the side that was damaged.   Damage
is extremely rare these days as we learned to spend some serious effort and money on inner  packing including a 2″ thick foam cradle for the concrete counterweight  and we tape that counterweight in place with filament tape.   

If the feeder is actually defective and once or twice a year one will slip through somehow, we either send replacement parts if the part is easy to replace or we send a pre paid shipping label to return the feeder.

This product is bulky and expensive to ship so minor cosmetic issues such as a scratch or a slightly bent side panel (easily bent back by hand) isn’t considered a defect and is not a reason  for returning a feeder.  These feeders are not stamped out by machines but hand made so they are sometimes imperfect but always  functional and sturdy so they will last many years.

If a part ever does fail we usually ship replacement parts for the cost of shipping as long as you send us pictures of the broken part.  In four years we have had one axle break that needed replaced, which is a five minute operation using a square drive screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver, and a crescent wrench.     Several times a month we have  a customer lose the spring while installing it,  launching it out into the yard where they can’t find it but we have replacement springs on our shopping cart.

If you need help in assembling the feeder first view the videos on assembling the feeder.  If you still can’t figure it out send us pictures of what you have done so far and of any problems you are having.  If your mechanical skills are zero you should plan on having a handy neighbor help you put the treadle on.  It is quite simple though, a five year old could easily install the treadle.

 

How hard is it to train the chickens to use the feeder?

Very simple as the door isn’t swinging up into their face.   The first rule is to never block the feeder open to “train’ the birds like other companies recommend.  All that does is teach the birds that the door isn’t supposed to move.   Attach the feeder to the wall or a sturdy base or post and fill it up before the birds go to roost at night and remove ALL other feed sources including free range.   Around 8 am, late enough so that the birds are pretty hungry, show them where the feed is with the tip of your foe.  One or more will step up and eat if they are hungry.  Let them eat for a few seconds and gently push them away and let them come back. Once they are perched on the treadle take your toe off.  You might need to show them several times.

Go back in a few hours and check that they remember how and check again before they go to roost and again in the next morning.  Once one understands how it works the others will learn.

Most customers report that the birds pick it up on the first lesson.    Flock owners that bought the Grandpa type feeders or the pretty green plastic feeders report that it can take weeks before they can unblock the feeder door.

But always remove all other sources of feed and keep the birds inside if they free range.  The birds need to be hungry to learn.  No treats, no scratch, no compost dumped into the coop.  If there is a lot of wasted feed in the litter that will slow training down as the hens might scratch for enough left over grain that their motivation is less.  If rats and wild birds are eating your chicken feed it will be worth the time to read the assembly, installation, and training instructions and follow them.  If you do that this feeder will stop rats, mice, and wild birds from eating your chicken feed without trying to rat proof the coop.  The answer is quite clear, if you want to stop rats from stealing feed you use this treadle feeder to keep the feed away from the rats.

If you have any questions that are not answered in the product description and the FAQ questions above please email the to us at sales@ratproofchickenfeeder.net