My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?

The sparrows are eating all of my chick’s feed

17 Comments

I am surprised that the sparrows at our house can fly. Their tummies are so full of my chick’s grower pellets.

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The sparrows can’t get to my big girls chicken food. They have a sparrow proof chicken feeder (a Chooketaria).

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This is the Chooketaria open. The big girls stand on the little step, which opens the lid for them to gain access to their delicious treats.

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This is what the teenage chicks eat from. As you can see, the food is very accessible to all, including the sparrows. The feeder is kept in the chick’s coop through the day while I am at work and the chicks can go in and out of the coop to eat. But of course, so can the sparrows.

I used to fill this feeder right to the top every day and by the time I got home, it was completely empty and the sparrows would be still pecking away at the remaining dust as our car pulled into the drive. The chicks spend most of their day free ranging out and about and only a few times do they go back to their run to eat their pellets and corn so I have come to the conclusion that the sparrows are eating most of the food from the feeder each day.

During the weekend I think I have it under control. I shut the coop so the sparrows can’t get in and I bring the feeder out every couple of hours to put in front of the chicks and then I put it back. The sparrows are very cross with this and they sit outside the coop chirping indignantly at having their food source taken from them.

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A friend who keeps backyard  chickens told me that he has a bird feeder in the garden so that the birds eat their own feed and leave the chicken’s feed alone. So I tried that. I bought them their own feeder with their own wild bird feed to go in it. It took the birds a few days to notice the feeder and they loved the wild bird seed. But it definitely doesn’t stop the birds from eating the chick’s food. They just eat both.

So now that the sparrows have eaten all of the chick’s grower pellets, I have decided that the chicks can go onto a mixture of crushed corn and adult. (The adult pellets that my fussy adult birds won’t eat.) I know you are not supposed to feed chicks on adult food until they are about 16 weeks but mine are almost 14 weeks and I am not going to buy a big sack of grower pellets for 2 weeks. I checked with the man in the feed store and he said they will be fine. He added that the chicks might start laying in a few weeks as some start laying at 16 to 18 weeks! Arrgh. These are my babies I’m not ready for that. (I wonder when partridge wyandotte bantams start laying. I must try to find out.)

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17 thoughts on “The sparrows are eating all of my chick’s feed

  1. snap here! my resident blackbird and his chums always sneak the chickens grub! my chooks are back laying again now, except for my littlest one she always goes a bit poorly when she’s coming in to lay so I’m hoping she’s going to be ok! xxx

  2. I suspect there is pretty much no way to stop wild animals from eating chook food. If it’s not the birds it will be possums or bandicoots or rats or lions or tigers or bears OH MY! But it’s valiant of you to try 🙂

  3. I’m sure there are people who’d disagree with me, but because I always have a mixed-age flock, I no longer bother with chick and pullet feed. I did for my first flock. It hasn’t been a problem for my flock at all.

    • I have a chicken friend who doesn’t use grower pellets as she free ranges her chicks with the big girls and it is impossible to separate the food so I am beginning to think you are right. The man at the feed store said that grower pellets are a reasonably new product and in the past people have always gone from chick crumbles onto adult food.
      It is definitely a hassle trying to keep them separate.

  4. How frustrating! I hope you can find an easier way to deal with the sparrow issue. And I think it will be fine to put them on the adult pellets so you don’t have to buy a big bag of chick feed for only two weeks. We’ve done that before and didn’t have any issues.

  5. I think they will be fine, too. They are getting so big! One of my 20 week old pullets has just laid her first egg…I’m surprised that they would lay earlier than that. I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

  6. I was looking at one of those chookaterias the other day and I was wondering how long it took your chooks to work out how to use it.
    I have one of those plastic feeders and they knock it over when it is in their house as they use it as a step to get up to their perches. If I leave it outside it gets wet or eaten by others! I think one of the lidded feeders might be a good option but not if they just stand around waiting for me to open it for them! 😉

    • 🙂 The feeders come with instructions and you leave the lid open (by tightening the nut) for a week or so, and then you lower the lid to half way for another week or so and they still see the feed inside and they get used to the lid opening and shutting when they stand on it.
      Then after that you close it and they should be used to standing in it to get the lid open.
      My Barnies are very good at it but my bantam is not so good. Maybe the step it too heavy for her. I might tape a weight onto the step for her.

  7. Thanks everyone for your replies. I think you are right, I won’t ever beat the pesky sparrows. Also, I won’t be buying another bag of grower pellets so adult food it is, along with lots of grains.

  8. We have little birds (sparrows also?) that eat our big laying pellets. The hens don’t seem to mind sharing, they don’t take much, and I figure it’s much better than rats or racoons stealing it at night!

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  10. The sparrows and doves and blackbirds eat all the food so I have taken to sitting in the chookyard and when they have eaten a bit I cover it over.This is ok now but what to do in the winter.I don’t want to stop the bantams from free ranging.chooksitter.

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  12. Here is a good solution: http://www.thecarpentershop.net/mediumplywoodchickenfeeder.html Little birds will quickly learn to eat from the side of the feeder when they can as long as you have a good mix of birds.

    It stops wild birds as well as rats. Bird flu has been found in several backyard flocks and the giant corporations will ask for regulation of backyard flocks if the flu spreads.

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