Chickens are messy eaters. Food on the ground, dirt in the feeder, food in the water, bedding in the feeder, poop in the feeder… and then opportunists like mice, rats, and wild birds may come calling, bringing diseases along with them. Not to mention the wasted food.
What’s a good solution?
If you’re having trouble with food spillage, you can place the feeders on bricks or cinderblocks so they are about at the height of the hens’ backs. This forces the birds to eat up high, and prevents them from scratching the feed out with the feet, or “beaking out” the feed with their beaks. In the image below, the waterers have been blocked up off the floor. The same can be done with feeders. Feeders can also hang from the ceiling to keep them at an appropriate height off the floor.
A second solution is to place the feeders in the coop. This will make it more difficult for visitors to find the food, especially if they are nocturnal visitors who come around to a closed-up coop.
A third option is to switch from mash, which is finely ground and messy, to pellets, which are easily snatched up one at a time by the hens. The down side of pellets is that some nutrition is lost in the processing.
Another option is to purchase a specialized feeder that opens only when a certain weight hits the trip pedal. One of my clients is delighted with the Grandpa’s Feeder she purchased. While it was expensive, she says it was well worth it.