Sure, getting a visit from a cute songbird can sound like a magical experience, but when you get visited by a whole flock of neighborhood birds trying to eat your chickens’ feed it’s a whole different story.
It’s not just frustrating because you go through more food and have to keep topping it up, but it’s not good for your chickens either. All types of birds are capable of carrying Avian diseases which can pass to your chooks, and having a busy backyard full of birds can also encourage other birds of prey or other unwanted predators too!
So, if you’ve simply had enough, join the club. Here’s how to stop other birds from eating your chicken food, why it’s important to stop them, and how to keep them away for good.
How To Stop Other Birds Eating Your Chickens Food
I’ve found that wild birds, particularly little sparrows, are incredibly determined. No matter where I put the feeder, whether it’s inside the run or not, they will find it, bring all their buddies, and feast on the spoils.
So how do you stop other birds from eating your chicken food?
Well, there really isn’t a shortage of strategies you can use to keep wild birds away from your chicken feeder. The problem is finding one that actually works!
In the end, it’s going to depend on your budget, schedule, and perhaps even your creativity.
In my experience, the best ways to keep other birds from eating your chicken’s food is to modify your chicken run, use treadle feeders, use an owl statue, or feed your chickens at set times throughout the day. Or some winning combination of all.
Modify Your Chicken Run
Many chicken owners, including myself, want to let their chickens free-range all day but have open access to the run and coop should they want to go eat, drink, or go lay their precious eggs.
The dilemma isn’t that your chicken run or coop is compromised, it’s that you want to purposely leave the door open so your chickens can come in and out. With this, you’ll naturally find you’ll attract more and more wild birds, from sparrows to pigeons to blackbirds.
So, if you want to keep this habit, then you can modify your chicken coops cleverly, to discourage all other birds from entering, even when there is food.
The best way I’ve found to do this is to modify your run’s door and make sure the feeder is out of sight. If you only allow a small hole for your chickens, and the rest of the coop is covered, then birds passing by won’t see the food, and won’t be able to find an easy way in either. It really does reduce the chances of other birds getting your chicken food.
You can also hang or place reflective surfaces at the entrance to the chicken coop, like tiny mirrors or old CDs. Sure it makes the coop look less attractive but it’ll mean there is one less bird eating your chicken’s feed!
Use Treadle Feeders
Compared with a standard chicken feeder, a treadle feeder is like a Rolls Royce. Not only can chickens help themselves to food, but their large capacity means you hardly ever need to refill it.
You see, chickens are rather intelligent, or at least I like to think so! It’s very easy to train your chickens to use a treadle feeder, as the action of stepping on the peddle literally presents them with a reward. After all, this is how a chicken learns and remembers by conditioning, learning by associating an experience of behavior with a reward or punishment.
The benefit here is that smaller birds will not be able to activate the treadle. This doesn’t mean they will leave your yard entirely, as they may still try to get scraps, but it will discourage them from hanging around your chickens and they will come much less frequently.
Use An “Owl” Statue To Scare Away Smaller Birds.
Bird scarecrows or lifelike owl statues are the most traditional ways to keep unwanted birds away. Although traditionally used to keep birds away from your garden or flowers, you can use the same strategy to discourage smaller birds from coming anywhere close to your chicken coop and feeder.
In my experience, chickens will quickly learn that the owl statue is not real, and won’t care if it’s there at all. But, smaller birds will certainly hesitate and often will fly away when they see it. It really works wonders.
A tip that really helps keep the smaller birds away is to semi-regularly move the owl from one location to another around your chicken coop or feeders.
Feed Your Chickens At Certain Times of Day
If you leave a constant source of food out, you’ll see wild birds come any time they please and help themselves. This makes it almost impossible for you to stop them, as more and more birds will learn this is a constant source of food for them.
So, to combat this, what you can do is feed your chickens only at certain times of the day. After they’ve had their fill, bring the food in, not allowing any of the wild birds to get it at all.
So long as your chickens do eat their fill, they will happily forage around the yard, eating any insects they come into contact with, from worms and crickets, even to spiders or mosquitoes too. Your chickens are very resourceful.
The best times to feed your chickens are in the morning, just after noon for a midday snack, and in the late afternoon, before your chickens put themselves away and you lock up the chicken run.
After every feeding session, simply bring the feeder inside or remove it from your backyard. Soon the wild birds will learn that there is no longer a source of food there, and either won’t stay long or won’t come back at all!
Why You Should Stop Other Birds Eating From Your Chicken Feeder
Some backyard chicken owners seem to be completely OK with feeding the wild birds, finding it fun or even charitable.
Sure, although it sounds harmless it actually has several serious downsides – both to your chicken’s food supply, and also to your chicken’s health, wellbeing, and safety. This is because avian diseases are actually more common than you would think, and some can easily spread between wild birds and your chooks.
Here’s why you should always try to stop other birds from eating from your chicken feeder.
Otherwise, You Have to Keep Refilling It!
No matter how much you try to account for wild birds eating your chickens’ feed, it will still run out much quicker than you could ever imagine.
So, if you don’t stop the birds from eating your chicken feed, then not only will it leave you out of pocket and constantly trying to refill your feeder, but it will also mean that there may be times when your chickens are hungry and can’t feed.
Believe me, I know how frustrating it can be to fill up the feeder only to find it empty a few hours later.
Helps Keep Birds Of Prey From Finding Your Chickens
We all know how keen birds of prey can be, and just how terrifying it can be for you and your flock.
The truth is, if your chicken coop is an open buffet for smaller birds, it’s only a matter of time until birds of prey catch on. When they are around, they won’t notice the difference between a small songbird and one of your beloved chooks.
Stops The Spread Of Avian Disease
An average sparrow can transmit countless different avian diseases to your chickens through their droppings, saliva, or nasal secretions.
This is a real serious issue, particularly if these sparrows, songbirds, or other birds are sharing food from the same feeder as your chickens.
This is why it’s so important to stop other birds from eating chicken food, as the safety of your chickens is at stake.
How To Stop Other Animals Eating Your Chicken Food
If you’ve conquered the wild birds, preventing them from eating your chickens feed your one step further towards an invader-free backyard.
Sometimes an owl statue and a modified chicken run here just won’t cut it.
One truly amazing and ingenious way to keep other animals from eating your chicken food is actually to spice things up by adding chili seeds. You see, chickens don’t actually experience the spice component of chili, but other animals do.
This means your chickens won’t even bat an eye when eating some chili seeds from their feeder, but any curious rodent or creature who dares to eat from the feeder will quickly learn not to and will stay clear way.
Chili is also considered very healthy for your chickens too, so it’s a win-win scenario.
So, we know how vitally important it is to keep other birds from eating your chicken’s food. The trouble is that it’s just so difficult to keep them away.
The best way to stop other birds from eating your chicken food is to modify your coop, use an owl statue, and feed your chooks at certain times throughout the day, preventing an all-day buffet for wild birds. A treadle feeder also goes a long way to limiting unwanted birds from having their fill too.
The best approach is to try a combination of all the strategies, and find what works for you and your schedule, and for your flock too!