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Chickens & Flocks

Building a DIY Chicken Feeder 

by Alexa Lehr | 07.14.2023
Building a DIY Chicken Feeder 
Whether or not you are a crafty DIYer, learning how to make a simple chicken feeder for your backyard flock is easy! Chickens are pretty flexible when it comes to how you serve their food. However, for your convenience, make sure the DIY feeder is easy to clean, accessible for emptying and refilling, and able to hold enough feed to last your flock for at least one to two days. Since many DIY chicken feeder systems use upcycled or inexpensive materials, making your own chicken feeder can help you save money on buying a feeder for your flock!

How to Make a Chicken Feeder  

There are many ways you can make a simple chicken feeder for your flock. The tools and supplies you use may depend on what you have available and how much you want to learn. However, most DIY chicken feeders can be put together using just a few simple skills. Here are some ideas for how to make a DIY chicken feeder:  


PVC Feeder: PVC chicken feeders are usually made using 3-4” PVC drain pipes. The pipes can be connected using various PVC elbows, caps, and adaptors to create a self-filling automatic chicken feeder. Other supplies you need to build a DIY PVC chicken feeder include pipe straps, PVC pipe glue, PVC T’s, and 45° Y PVC connectors. Look for street 90 PVC to use when building a DIY PVC chicken feeder.   

Gravity Chicken Feeder: A simple automatic gravity chicken feeder can be made using plywood, as long as you have some common tools to cut and assemble the feeder, like a saw, drill, and screws. To make a gravity feeder, you need to build a tall rectangle box with an angled trough at the bottom. The bottom of the box should be open to allow food to fill the trough. The top of the box should have a hinged lid so that the feeder can easily be filled.   

5-Gallon Bucket Feeders: Large 5-gallon buckets can be fashioned into numerous styles of automatic chicken feeders. A common set-up is to drill holes around the base of a 5-gallon bucket and then set it in a large foil roasting pan, a metal hog feed pan, or a large livestock feed bowl. You can fill the bucket with feed that then spills out of the holes drilled around the base of the bucket and fills the pan or bowl. Use a lid for the 5-gallon bucket to keep the feed clean and dry.   

DIY Treadle Feeder: If you are feeling a little more crafty, try making your own DIY treadle chicken feeder. A treadle feeder is basically a rectangle box with a pedal that a chicken can step on to open a lid and access a trough filled with feed. The rectangle box stores the feed and automatically fills the trough as the chickens eat the feed. The pedal system helps prevent feed waste and keeps rodents and wild birds out of the feeder.   

Plastic Tote Feeders: Another simple DIY chicken feeder system can be fashioned out of plastic totes and a few PVC elbows. The PVC elbows are mounted into the sides of the plastic tote to allow a chicken to stick their head into the elbows and access feed stored inside. You will need a large tote, PVC elbows, PVC glue, and an electric saw to cut holes in the plastic tote. Make sure you mount enough PVC elbows into the tote so that at least half your flock can eat at the same time.     


DIY Chicken Waterer Ideas  

Since we are on the topic of DIY, you may find it helpful to know that you can build a DIY chicken water for your backyard flock, too! As with DIY chicken feeders, DIY chicken water systems can come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure your DIY chicken waterer is easy to clean and that it stays free of debris like chicken poop or coop litter. Here are a few ideas to get you started:  


Can & Pan System: A simple DIY chicken waterer can be made using a large can or bucket and a sturdy pan or feed bowl. This system is similar to the 5-gallon bucket chicken feeder. Drill holes around the base of the can or bucket and then set it into a deep pan or bowl. The holes need to be low enough on the can or bucket so that they are not higher than the lip of the pan or bowl. Water spills out of the holes and fills the pan or bowl. The water stops once the pan or bowl fills to the level of the holes in the bucket or can.   

Bucket Nipple Drinker: Another popular chicken waterer system can be assembled using a 5-gallon bucket and poultry nipple drinkers. Poultry nipple drinkers are systems that allow a chicken to peck at a nipple which releases water from the drinker. Poultry nipple drinkers can be simple nipples or cup-style nipple drinkers.  Mount them onto the sides or bottom of a 5-gallon bucket to create a DIY chicken waterer that can easily be hung in the chicken coop.   

PVC Nipple Drinker: You can also make a poultry nipple drinker system using PVC pipes. Attach poultry nipples or nipple drinker cups to straight PVC pipes and use an assortment of PVC caps, elbows, and adaptors to make a PVC nipple drinker for your flock. Make sure you use at least one poultry nipple for every two chickens in your flock.    



Building a DIY Chicken Feeder  

Here’s how you can make a simple, automatic filling PVC chicken feeder:  



  1. Start by using the jigsaw or sawzall to cut away a portion of one side of the gallon bucket. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom of the bucket since you need a lip there to create a trough for holding in the feed. It should look like you cut a U shape from half of the bucket.   
  2. Using the battery drill, drill 4 holes in the remaining full side of the bucket opposite from the U shape cut. These holes should be big enough for the zip ties you are using to easily fit through.   
  3. Place the PVC pipe against the tall side of the bucket where the 4 holes are drilled. Hold the PVC so that it is about ½-1” above the bottom of the bucket. Mark where the holes in the bucket line up on the PVC pipe and then drill corresponding holes in the PVC pipe. It is important that the holes are sized just big enough to fit the zip ties so that too much feed doesn’t spill out the holes.   
  4. Use the zip ties to tie the PVC pipe to the bucket. This should provide you with a PVC pipe that can be filled with feed that will empty into the bucket trough at the bottom.   

Building a DIY Chicken Waterer  

Here’s how to build a simple bucket poultry nipple drinker for your flock:  



  1. Start by using the battery drill to drill holes around the base of the bucket. The drill bit should be sized according to the style of poultry nipples you are using. Drill enough holes around the base of the bucket so that you can mount the necessary number of nipples.  
  2. NOTE: If you are using simple poultry nipples, drill holes into the bottom of the bucket. If you are using poultry nipple cups, drill holes around the base of the bucket.   
  3. Install the nipples by wrapping the grooved portion of each nipple in teflon tape or plumbers pipe tape and then screwing the nipples into each hole in the bucket. The tape helps prevent leakage around the nipples.   
  4. You should end up with an easy-to-clean and fill automatic chicken waterer that can be hung in the chicken coop or enclosure!  



Building DIY chicken feeders and water systems is a great way to economically furnish your chicken coop with the necessities for your flock. DIY automatic chicken feeders can be fashioned out of PVC pipes, plastic totes, buckets, or plywood. DIY chicken water systems can be created using buckets, cans, feed bowls, PVC pipes, poultry nipple drinkers, or a combination of these materials. It's easy to get creative when building a feeder or water system for raising your backyard flock!   

Alexa Lehr

Alexa Lehr

Alexa grew up raising, showing, and caring for poultry. Her passion for poultry grew into her current small farm business, the Black Feather Farm, where she breeds rare and heritage chicken breeds. She uses her vast experience to improve the lives of chickens and educate Grubbly readers as well as readers on her own blog, The Pioneer Chicks.

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