.What are your views on the use of Feeders and topping up chicks?
First of all, may I say the reason for using feeders is not that the Borders won't feed, it is because, early season they, or some of them will not sit. The feeders are natural incubators, at the end of the incubation period you don't have to worry about where you are going to place the chicks, sometimes less can in fact be more. If by keeping less Borders and replacing them with a couple of pair of feeders allows you to breed a few more Borders can only be good. I think that your feeders should be a couple of days behind the Borders in the breeding cycle.
The way I go about this is that I place the feeder cocks in the breeding cage, when a Border hen has laid I take a feeder hen from the flight cage and place it in the breeding cage with the cock bird. Normally within two to three days she has laid. Hopefully the Border hen will sit, then at some stage before they hatch I can decide whether I let her rear them or move them to a feeder.
It depends on the circumstances at any given time, i.e., what hens are sitting, what options are available with regard to feeder availability. The thought that by using feeders you will develop a non-feeding strain is load of hog wash as far as I am concerned. The in-built force in all healthy beings is so strong, who teaches them to copulate or build a nest, it's just there and would be very difficult to eradicate, in my opinion.
I top my chicks up every night, normally from the second day. They are just pleasantly full, and not full to bursting point, which I have seen on one or two occasions during my visits to others in years gone by.