When I first built our coop I wanted a near maintenance free feeder that I could fill and not have to worry about refilling for several days. I built a do-it-yourself PVC gravity feeder and at first it worked well. You could fill outside the coop; gravity would feed the tray and keep refilling the tray until the top tube was exhausted of feed. The system was free of exposure to the elements with a capped top and the feed tray underneath the coop roof.
Even with not being exposed to the elements, much of the bend in the tube got clogged up over time with feed residue and general moisture. Worse was the tray was made filthy from wear and tear of both the flock eating out of it as well as dust and feathers from the coop. I got to the point of not wanting to feed them in the coop anymore due to the feathers, dust and mud, but didn't have any good options as we have so many other animals around that would eat the chicken feed if left out.Then I came across Grandpa's Feeders and thought it was a clever product that would suit my needs perfectly. The sealed feed compartment would allow it to be out in the elements while the tread plate opening setup would allow the chickens to feed while keeping the critters out.
Installation of Grandpa's Feeders is quick and very simple; all you have to do is install four bolts for the tray lever, also called the tread plate.There is a learning period for the flock which requires two additional bolts to be installed. We went through the first stage, which involves installing one bolt on both sides of the feeder, allowing the lid's arms to rest on to keep the lid fully open. After 5 days of this, we removed the bolts which closed the lid fully and the chickens knew exactly what to do already. There are other stages you can go through to train them more slowly, such as gradually closing the trap through moving the bolts, however our flock did not require this.
Grandpa's Feeders are made out of solid metal except for the tread plate arms, which are made from thick gauge PVC. It's as basic as it comes in terms of function; you pour the food in the back of the feeder, the feeder has a curved backing which allows the feed to flow into the tray through gravity. We have yet to have any issues with the feed not flowing into the tray or the flock not being able to get to all of it.
While we plan to move the feeder under an awning for its permanent home, we left it out for testing in the middle of the yard to look for moisture penetration as well as observe other animals interacting with it. The unit experienced no noticeable water penetration, even through sprinklers and several rain storms. We have noticed interest from squirrels but they have been unsuccessful in getting it open. No other animals noticeably interacted with it and there were no signs that feed has been taken overnight.
Overall, Grandpa's Feeder has been a perfect product for us, allowing us to start feeding the flock outside the coop. Although in the coop it would work just as well due to its ability to keep feed dry while keeping debris and feathers out. The feed maintains perfect, even after being exposed to the direct elements. The flock was fast in learning how to use it and the food reserve tank allows us to only have to refill it once a week.