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The spring will have more effect on the closing pressure than the counterweight. Just carefully stretch it a small amount using two pairs of pliers and re try it. If you go too far put a small kink in the straight portion of the spring to effectively shorten it.
 

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The best free way I know is to buy one of those 5 gallon home depot buckets. remove handle and drill a small hole in the bottom. put twine or rope thru hole and make a few knots to keep it there. if you can, place feeder on an 18" cement block. if your chickens are messy, make a 2x2 foot square, 3 1/2 inches tall and nail together. close in with plywood on one side and hardware cloth on the other. stand feeder on it. close with bucket them at night.

the whole and rope is something I use as a pulley so I can cover the feeders out the pens.

to keep mice and rats to a minimum, you have to lock and clean up all the feed. adding a bait station works great with that.
 

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Hi Karen,

I have five Rhode Island Reds including one rooster. Getting the chickens meant I was overrun with rats about a year later to the point they were killing feathered out chicks faster than I was hatching them out. Couldn't afford the Grandpa feeder which was over $200 at the time so I made some prototypes out of plywood and that evolved into this feeder.
 

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That bucket system is very clever but usually the rats and mice will just start raiding the feed in daylight and the birds can still rake the feed out onto the ground. Plus going away for the weekend or for vacation means someone having to come by to feed the birds.

Like you said, going with closing the feed off at night and safeguarding the feed stores keeps rats to a minimum but a good treadle feeder will cause the mice and rats to go elsewhere.
 

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Treadle feeders are great. My silkies were fast learners.
I did have a few rats that did start at 5pm, so I close up early. And then the bait stations work great because all other feed is gone.

I had a shed that was a holy mess, and full of rat $**** thanks to my neighbor's sloppy feed habits. I could see the rats running into the shed. I spent a few days cleaning out all the stuff that was not being used, stacked things, hung a lot, and used Rubbermaid tubs. I put a bait station in there and problem resolved. neighbor had no more chickens. I find no more poop.

before and after
 

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Rodent control is an ongoing job.I remove the feed from the coop in the spring time and the food source moves to the front yard.I haven't seen any rats/poop this year but it has been very mild winter and I have poison all over,inside and out.Every fall I start to see them in the house,too,and now do new poison every August.Saw 2 rats earlier in the fall and haven't seen any other rodents except dead ones.I've encouraged feral cats to hunt in my yard and(I'm a sucker!!!)started feeding a really sweet one during the cold snap.Now I've come to the conclusion it is a pregnant female and I'll probably have kittens soon,it has moved into my grow-out pen.I'm going to trade dog houses out there and put the smaller more insulated one out there w/ new bedding.All in the name of rodent control...I don't really do cats but they are useful.
 

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it's definitely ongoing. Algerhart how long have you had chickens?

CQ, I don't do cats. For 19 years I had a horse or horses and never had a rat. I guess it just was not a rat area. I did have mice. they liked the house. so that was maintenance problem.
 

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Thanks so much for all your comments!
I am not really a cat person we have cats that live next door to us and we have a fox trap to catch any stray/feral cats and foxes.
I really like the idea of the bottle trap I guess the mice die in there so it could get quite smelly and full.

Happy chooking!
sheryl miller
I bought a grandpa feeder, its steel and is covered no rats or mice can get in. I'm from Sydney Australia and they make these in New Zealand about $85 AUD. "Grandpafeeder" check it out online they deliver worldwide. You may have similar ones in the U.S.
 

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it's definitely ongoing. Algerhart how long have you had chickens?

CQ, I don't do cats. For 19 years I had a horse or horses and never had a rat. I guess it just was not a rat area. I did have mice. they liked the house. so that was maintenance problem.
Since 2009 this time around but I was raised a farm boy so really since I was about six years old. Off and on, move into the city and not have any for a while, move back out to a property and pick right back up again where I left off. Of course now city birds are a bit easier to have in a lot of towns.
 

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That is so true, more humane for the birds, and it creates a little more freedom in this world as people are less dependent on the big corporations. Thomas Jefferson would love this movement taking root as his view of America was the independent artisan and small farmer.
 

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The best free way I know is to buy one of those 5 gallon home depot buckets. remove handle and drill a small hole in the bottom. put twine or rope thru hole and make a few knots to keep it there. if you can, place feeder on an 18" cement block. if your chickens are messy, make a 2x2 foot square, 3 1/2 inches tall and nail together. close in with plywood on one side and hardware cloth on the other. stand feeder on it. close with bucket them at night.

the whole and rope is something I use as a pulley so I can cover the feeders out the pens.

to keep mice and rats to a minimum, you have to lock and clean up all the feed. adding a bait station works great with that.
Your coop is spotless. I love this idea.
 
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