When we first bought our homestead the first farm animals we had were chickens. We did exactly what most people would do – we built a fenced in coop and run.
Over time we built a larger coop on to the side of our large shed. It was expensive and it needs to be cleaned out fairly often. It gives the birds very little walking space and does not let us use them to help control the bug population in our area.
Later on we got some ducks. We wanted to let them go through the whole yard and not keep them in the coop – but how were we going to keep them from wandering off into the woods or flying away to find the nearest pond? Well, Jennifer came up with an amazingly simple idea that works wonders.
Livestock Feed: Automatic Feeder
If there is any way for us to save time, effort and money, we are all for it. We found all of that with this simple trick: Use a deer feeder to feed our ducks!
You can try this with any of your animals – chickens, ducks, turkey – maybe even your sheep or other livestock that you want kept close by.
Be sure your feeder has the settings you need – each brand and model has different options. Ours lets us set up to 6 different feeding times and lets us set how long the feeder spins, which controls just how much feed is put out for the animals. After about 3 days the ducks all figured out that the feeder would put out food on a regular basis, and so they stay nearby.
Many times they will start going toward the feeder just a few minutes before it goes off. Other times they will hear it go off and will get over to it as quick as they possibly can. It is actually quite amusing to watch them do this!
We have noticed a lot of benefits since doing this:
- We save time and effort by only having to feed the ducks every 2 weeks or so.
- We save money on feed and fencing. We use a lot less feed using this method than by dumping huge piles of grain once or twice a day.
- Spreading the feed across the yard (the deer feeder “throws” the grain – you can get one that just dumps it if you do not want it to do that) it encourages the ducks to find bugs at the same time.
- By not clipping their wings our birds are more able to flee from ground predators, like foxes
If you are looking to let your animals be in a larger area and yet keep them contained without fences, look at using an automatic deer feeder. This works especially well for poultry, since fencing in poultry takes a lot more money than just attracting them with an automatic feeder. Be sure your feeder has the timing options you want before you buy.