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If you're looking to get chickens and wondering what type of feeder is best to buy than before spending a lot of money perhaps try making a chicken feeder yourself - it's easy and could cost you absolutely nothing! In this short article, I'll show you step by step how I made my chicken feeder.

Sometimes the simple and best ideas are right under our noses and this do-it-yourself chicken feeder is one of those revelations - well, in my opinion it is anyway... For many years I've been unhappy with commercial poultry feeders and believe me I have tried nearly all of them! Unfortunately, feed loss is the biggest flaw with most commercial chicken or poultry feeders usually caused by the hens raking out the feed.

A major design flaw in many of these feeders is the gravity feed element. That is, the feeder dispenses feed automatically as the birds eat and this would be fine if the chickens were actually eating the grain or pellets but if a hen learns to rake through the feed without eating it causes more grain to dispense into the feed chamber and then it pours all over the ground. I don't want to dwell too much on the flaws in feeders except to say if you own chickens and have used standard chicken feeders or even most of the designer brand ones you'd know what I mean.

Lost feed to wild birds or rodents is robbing your poultry of their food and you of good money, not only that, feed spilt all over the ground is messy, annoying, and quite frankly NOT supposed to happen. In the end, I got fed up with expensive treadle chicken feeders or those PVC pipe gravity feeders and decided to design my own.

One afternoon whilst in my poultry pen I was testing some fermented feed on my hens - I had the feed in a medium-sized bucket and would scoop a little out to throw it to the flock. Naturally, as curious hens can be one came over to the bucket and proceeded to stretch her neck over the large opening and down to reach the feed. I was surprised at just how far a hen could reach down the bucket and that's when I started thinking about designing a simple bucket or container feeder.  

This design is amazingly simple and a picture tells a thousand words but essentially it's any container (like a bin or bucket) with holes in the side for the chickens to poke their heads in to get to the feed. The advantages of this chicken feeder design are:

  • Easy to make - If you can measure and use a box cutter then you can make one of these feeders.    
  • Low cost - Any old bucket, container, or bin can be used to make this poultry feeder.  
  • Minimal feed spill or loss - Provided the feeder is not overfilled, it will not spill grain or pellets over the edge of the eating chamber. The way the feeder works means even if the hens do rake through the feed to find their favourite grains they can't rake up and out so the feed stays in the container - this a major advantage over a gravity fed feeders where the feed chamber continues to fill until it overflows. However, there is an exception... when this feeder is used for ducks, there's still some mess and feed spill but this is not from the feeder it's by the ducks and the way they eat (they're just messy eaters) and no feeder can stop this behaviour. Overall, this design of poultry feeder is truly no mess.     
  • Clog free - A big problem with some feeders in particular gravity fed ones is the chute or feed chamber getting clogged due to condensation or wet weather/damp conditions. This feeder will never get clogged!
  • Use any feed type - You can use this type of feeder for any feed such as: pellets, grains, fermented wet feed, garden or kitchen scraps. 
  • Can be used for ducks and other poultry - Most chicken feeders are problematic for ducks making it hard for them to get their bills into the feed chamber and get a good mouth full of feed. If you have a mixed flock this DIY bin feeder is perfect for all types of poultry and allows birds like ducks to scoop out a good bill full of feed.   
  • All weather - Fitting a storm or rain cover over this feeder is easy enough to do to keep the feed inside the container dry; however, a little moisture accidentally splashed inside the feeder won't hurt.  
  • Multi-point access - Some trendy and expensive commercial feeders only have one access point (or feed chamber) meaning the birds have to line up to get a go and this can cause fighting or bullying. This feeder design has at least two holes and depending on the size of the container 4 or 5 access points can be created so no hen misses out on their share of feed!   
  • Rats and mice can't get in - If the container is made from a slippery material like hardened plastic or galvanised steel mice and rats generally won't get in, also, the container can be raised slightly off the ground to make it even harder for rodents to climb up.  
  • Holds good measure of feed - Initially, you may think the design is wasteful because it only utilises the bottom third of the container (sometimes even less) but you'll be surprised at how much feed this chicken feeder holds. A 20 kg (4 to 5 gallon) bucket holds about 4 or 5 kgs of feed and a 50 litre bin can be safely filled with close to 10 kgs!   
  • Open to modification - My chicken feeder design is as basic as I could make it - and, it works perfect as is for my needs. Nevertheless, you may like to use this no mess DIY chicken feeder idea as a base to build something better suited to your situation. For example, instead of a round container use a rectangle one, or, how about incorporating a gravity feed element to the container? It's up to you, make it basic like mine or think outside the box and design your own.    

How to make this DIY chicken feeder

Now to the making of this feeder and let me assure you it's not rocket science! Besides the container, you will need: a suitable tool (eg box cutter) to cut plastic or metal depending on the material your container is made from; some irrigation pipe (hose, or grey water piping); and something for a lid (if your container doesn't come with one).  

Step 1 

Find a suitable container. Any bucket will work, small bins are good, large bins work well as long as the base of the container isn't so wide that a hen can't physically reach the centre otherwise feed will be left to stagnate in the middle. As a guide, I wouldn't use a container with a base diametre over 18 inches (about 45 cms) this max size makes it 9 inches ( about 23 cms) to reach the centre, which an average sized hen should easily do. 

Step 2 

Measure the access points or feed holes. Make a square template out of paper or cardboard 15 x 15 cms (or 6 x 6 inches) and round the corners off at the bottom so it looks more like a "U" shape. Then use this template to mark out where the feeder holes will go by placing it 15 cms (6 inches) up from the base of the container - this is important because my testing found if the base of the hole is any higher than this the hens have a difficult time reaching the bottom of the container. For a small container two access points are enough and on larger containers two or more may be suitable. 

Step 3

Cut out the access points or feed holes. Using a box cutter or other cutting tool cut out the marked area - drilling a few starter holes can help make cutting out easier. Trim off any sharp or jagged edges.

Step 4

Fit the comfort rail. Measure out about 6-8 inches of hose (20-25 mm or 1 x inch irrigation hose works well) and cut it lengthways then push it firmly into place over the bottom of the access hole. This comfort rail provides a nice round smooth area for the birds to slide their necks over when they are feeding rather than a sharp thin edge, which could rub and irritate their necks during frequent usage.  

Step 5 

Find a lid or storm/rain cover. If the container already has a lid then you're ready to go, otherwise, any old lid or piece of tin, wood, etc weighed down with a brick will do! 

Step 6 

Fill the feeder. When filling the feeder try not to overfill past the base of the access holes otherwise feed will inevitably fall out, obviously... I've found filling the container about an inch from the bottom lip of the comfort rail is perfect. That's it! 

Video on how to make a free no mess DIY chicken or duck poultry feeder

This video explains all the above steps to making your own poultry feeder in detail. The first half rambles on about why I decided to design and make my own feeder and the second half demonstrates exactly how to make it.    

Conclusion

So there we have it, a no mess no fuss and easy to make chicken feeder. Yes, it probably isn't the "prettiest" feeder design but it works and your hens won't care how it looks anyway. 

Feel free to give your thoughts below or even join our forum and comment in the discussion thread right here. 

More designs from other people modifying my original feeder

I will update/add more videos to this article if/when they become available...

 

 

 

Comment on Facebook below or use our section further down to have your say...

Comments (17)

Rated 0 out of 5 based on 0 voters
  1. Erika Arndt
  1. 5 / 5

Mark, this feeder is GREAT. Have 27 1 month old Buff Orpington chicks, still eating out of a chick feeder, which I was filling 3 times a day. Made a chick version of your feeder, hole starts 4" off the ground, and is roughly 4" square, 3 holes in...

Mark, this feeder is GREAT. Have 27 1 month old Buff Orpington chicks, still eating out of a chick feeder, which I was filling 3 times a day. Made a chick version of your feeder, hole starts 4" off the ground, and is roughly 4" square, 3 holes in a 5 gallon bucket. When they outgrow it I will make a couple of the grown up version. It works a treat, it took them maybe 5 minutes to figure it out. Thank you!!

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  1. Mark Valencia    Erika Arndt

Hi Erika, I'm really happy you took the time to share your modifications to my chicken bin feeder design adapting it to chicks. Time is valuable and when there's lots of birds to feed it can be a pain to constantly top up the feeder so a bulk...

Hi Erika, I'm really happy you took the time to share your modifications to my chicken bin feeder design adapting it to chicks. Time is valuable and when there's lots of birds to feed it can be a pain to constantly top up the feeder so a bulk feeder like this (which is also not messy) can be a real time saver! I love hearing how people have used my feeder design as a base to create their own variation. All the best and thank you

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  1. Mark Valencia
  1. 5 / 5

Here's a pic from the inside of the DIY bin feeder

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  1. Gung

Hi Mark, Thank you for your suggestion. Going

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  1. Mark Valencia

Hi Gung,

I have replied below - thanks for your question!

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  Comment was last edited about 2 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
  1. Mark Valencia

Hi Gung,

if you only have a few hens in a backyard coop setup then I would try an off-the-shelf bell waterer because this is all you would need to be honest. Get one that you can hang (with a top handle) about chest high to the hens and this...

Hi Gung,

if you only have a few hens in a backyard coop setup then I would try an off-the-shelf bell waterer because this is all you would need to be honest. Get one that you can hang (with a top handle) about chest high to the hens and this will keep it clean alternatively you can place the drinker on a bessa brick to get it up off the ground. At least a 10 ltr drinker is what I'd get because the smaller ones will have you filling it up too often.

If you didn't want to buy a standard bell drinker then you can use any shallow bucket or wide open bason for your drinker really.

Consider joining our forum at http://www.selfsufficientculture.com we have a growing online chicken keeping community and we're keen to answer any questions! For example, if you'd like me to outline a more elaborate drinker set-up to DIY then I'd be happy to explain it.

Cheers

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  1. Gung

Hi Mark, Fantastic video, think this no waste feeder is midst suited to my basic requirements. Do you have a simplicity similar idea for a water feeder? Or can you zero in on recommending one of two videos on water feeder? I have minimal handyman...

Hi Mark, Fantastic video, think this no waste feeder is midst suited to my basic requirements. Do you have a simplicity similar idea for a water feeder? Or can you zero in on recommending one of two videos on water feeder? I have minimal handyman skills. And I so far not able find a Perth based chook Society to join for fellowship to share experience and ideas.

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  1. Mark Valencia

Hi LeAnn,

yes roosters do have trouble getting their big heads in those PVC feeders - mine did anyway - but he definitely had no issues with the bucket design. I do hope your feeder turns out as you expect and saves you some money as well as...

Hi LeAnn,

yes roosters do have trouble getting their big heads in those PVC feeders - mine did anyway - but he definitely had no issues with the bucket design. I do hope your feeder turns out as you expect and saves you some money as well as just being a good feeder. Weatherproofing is pretty easy (just use a large lid to cover the top but like I described in the article if the feed gets a little wet it doesn't matter anyway because this feeder won't clog and hens don't mind their feed a little soggy - they sometimes even prefer it! Thanks for commenting, cheers

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  Comment was last edited about 2 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
  1. LeAnn Lewis

Oh I almost bought PVC at Lowe's Hardware yesterday, I was going to make the gravity type feeder. I had the parts in my hand, it wasn't going to be cheap like I kept seeing its supposed to be on You Tube. I kept wondering if my roo was going to...

Oh I almost bought PVC at Lowe's Hardware yesterday, I was going to make the gravity type feeder. I had the parts in my hand, it wasn't going to be cheap like I kept seeing its supposed to be on You Tube. I kept wondering if my roo was going to be able to get his big head in there, kept picturing him with a bloody comb from rubbing on that small opening! I put it all back. Found your feeder on You Tube today, I'll be making it tomorrow! I live where we get no snow, lots of rain though. I was thinking next time I go up north in the winter I will get a saucer sled to use as a weather guard for the top. Thanks for the video, and saving me a lot of money!

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  1. Mark Valencia

Hi Jenny, I really love it when I receive these types of comments from people who have found some of our articles or ideas worthwhile so thanks for taking the time to say so because it motivates me to keep making more media!

Best of luck with...

Hi Jenny, I really love it when I receive these types of comments from people who have found some of our articles or ideas worthwhile so thanks for taking the time to say so because it motivates me to keep making more media!

Best of luck with your second go at keeping chickens!

Cheers

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  Comment was last edited about 2 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
  1. Jenny

Your bucket / bin feeder is brilliant! We are looking at our second go of chook ownership and the feeder we had last time wasted kilos of feed. Definitely going to make our own feeder this time round and going to use your method of dog proofing...

Your bucket / bin feeder is brilliant! We are looking at our second go of chook ownership and the feeder we had last time wasted kilos of feed. Definitely going to make our own feeder this time round and going to use your method of dog proofing at the base of their pen. Very informative sight.

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