Chicken Feeder Ideas – Buy New Or Simply Build One In Minutes For Almost FREE

If you’ve landed here, you’re contemplating what type of chicken feeder to either buy or make yourself. Either way is fine, but let’s dive in and look at a variety of different chicken feeder ideas, both DIY and from the store, so you can make an informed choice!

What Makes A Good Chicken Feeder?

  • Does Not Spill A Lot Of Feed (most important) – Feed spillage can cost you a lot of money!
  • Easy To Fill/Refill
  • Durable – must withstand chickens flying on top of it, etc.
  • Holds Enough Feed To Support Your Flock – you don’t want to buy a feeder that’s too small for your flock or you’ll have to refill it all the time. Conversely, you don’t want to buy a huge feeder if you have 2 chickens as the food may get stale.
  • Can Be Moved If Needed – maybe this doesn’t apply to you, but it took ME a while to position my roosts, feeder, and watering system in my own coop and I appreciated the fact that my bucket feeder could be easily re-positioned.

How To Prevent Feed Spillage

As mentioned earlier, chicken feed spillage can be costly. Here are a few ideas to help eliminate, or at least reduce, the amount of chicken feed spilled on the floor from those crazy birds!

How To Stop Chickens From Spilling Feed
My Pet Peeve – chickens in the feed (Photo By Rachel Lees, Unsplash)

Place The Eating/Pecking Bin Just Below Beak Level – This Helps A Lot

If it’s positioned too low, they can get their feet in the feed, and start scratching it out of the feeder and all over the floor – super frustrating! My 5-gallon feeder below is positioned on top of 2 cinder blocks placed next to one another and it’s worked well that way for years!

I’ve seen very little spillage placing it at this height. You can also just hang it from a chain or rope from the ceiling supports of your coop to a similar height.

Build Or Buy A Feeder That Is Designed To Eliminate Spillage 

Positioning your feeder like mine above will help but there are some great designs available for you to make or buy which help even more. The PVC feeder is a great example of this design…

Double PVC Feeder
Photo By Insteading

You can make these feeders yourself or buy them online. But it will save you a lot of money to buy the pipes at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. and they are very easy to assemble!

You basically just need some glue to hold the fittings together, and a hack saw to cut the plastic piping to the correct length and that’s it!

5 Gallon Chicken Feeder

The farm stores all carry a nice selection of chicken feeders and water containers but they can be rather expensive. I made a 5-gallon feeder and waterer using two 5-gallon buckets I got for free at our local grocery store – usually the bakery or deli section – and two 20-inch plastic planter bases.

The plastic planter bases cost around $5.00 – $10.00. I purchased mine from a garage sale. Of course, any local retailer such as Walmart, Target, or your local hardware store would carry them as well. The 5-gallon feeder I’m currently using is pictured below – after filling it with feed, it will last about 3 – 4 weeks for 13 chickens.

Of note, we also feed our chickens leftover veggie scraps, so that may delay how often we need to re-fill it.

How it’s done: To make the Chicken feeder – drill several holes about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch diameter around the bottom of the bucket. Make sure the bottom edge of the holes are no higher up than 1/2″ from the very bottom of the bucket.

Next – place the bucket in the bottom of the plant base so the top of the bucket is still up. Don’t throw away the lid – you’ll still need it. Make sure the bucket is centered as best as possible in the plant bottom and then screw it in place using 3 or 4 screws until it is secure.

That’s it! Just pour in the feed and put the lid on and you’ve got 5 gallons worth of feed. I’m guessing this would be roughly 20 lbs of feed since it holds about half of a 40 lb bag of chicken feed in my feeder.

I placed my feeder on top of 2 concrete cinder blocks – chickens are sloppy eaters and this helps prevent feed spillage. I’ve seen other people hang their feeders a few inches off the ground with a rope. The suggested distance off the ground is about the height of the chicken’s back.

10 Gallon Chicken Feeder

UPDATE: You can also make a feeder double the size with 2 buckets! This will double the amount of feed you can provide. As our flock grew, we used this one. It will now hold a 40-pound bag of chicken feed! To put it together, you simply have two 5-gallon buckets. Just cut out the bottom of a second bucket and screw it about 2-3 inches from the top of the first bucket (as pictured).

Then drill in 4 – 6 screws around the perimeter, which works great to hold it in place (see picture). The screw length I used was 2 1/2 inches. Don’t forget about those screws in there if you ever need to reach inside the bucket. You don’t want to get cut! But that’s all there is to it – You now have an extra large chicken feeder.

To reduce the risk of getting cut on those sharp screws, we suggest using bolts instead! I had the screws readily available so I used those for our feeder. It’s still holding up several years later!

Wooden Chicken Feeder

If you are handy and like working with wood, there are many variations of wood feeders that work swell. Wood chicken feeders can be mounted on the wall and designed in a way that greatly reduces feed waste!

There are a lot of variations of these feeders but I like the ones with a steeply angled top. The one in the picture is great but you may want to consider adding a sloped top on it or the chickens may likely fly on top of it and poop in the feed…we know from personal experience (insert poop emoji here!)

Wooden Feeder For Chickens
Wooden Chicken Feeder

But as long as the roof extends well over the bin the feed pours into, that should eliminate that issue. If you have a large flock you can make a large wooden feeder, or simply build several smaller feeders like the one pictured above.

PVC Chicken Feeder

These feeders are also really awesome! There are a lot of configurations that can be made PVC feeders an excellent choice for your chickens. They are easy to assemble and secure, and they also are made with the “Y” fitting at the bottom – this feature makes for very little mess, a big bonus for most people!

There are varying sizes of PVC piping that can be used, but a 3-inch width seems to be the most common. As for feed, chicken mash tends to get bound up in this type of feeder so it works better with feed in crumble or pellet form. Our personal favorite is pellets because they tend to spill much less than in either crumble or mash feed.

PVC Trough Feeder
PVC trough feeder.  Photo, Pinterest

Pictured above is a PVC trough feeder – yet another cool idea of what you can do with PVC. I personally don’t prefer this over the “Y” feeder as I think you lose more feed. But as with anything – you need to determine what works best for YOU and your chickens.

Tupperware Feeder

Another great no-spill option is the Tupperware container from the folks at the MyPetChicken blog. They provide an excellent DIY tutorial for building it here.

This is a great no-spill design and we love it! Very affordable, and easy to pour feed into. You can use a clear or colored container.

As for size, use whatever works best for you as these containers come in many sizes. We recommend using one large enough to hold a full bag of feed. Although if you don’t have a large number of chickens, you may want to consider a smaller size so the feed does not get stale or moldy.

Chicken Feeder Ideas
Picture from MyPetChicken blog. (Click the link to see building instructions)

Buying A Chicken Feeder

Many of the chicken feeders discussed so far can be made from home. But if you’re not feeling like bringing out the tools and have a bit of extra money lying around, you can always BUY a chicken feeder from a farm store or online.

Many companies have free shipping now and there are A LOT of options to choose from.  We encourage you to look for feeders that are designed for less feed spillage. You may pay more upfront for this type of feeder, but it’ll save you a lot of money in the end from the amount of money saved.

If you’re looking for coop building plans, check out these free ones.

A high-end, galvanized steel feeder is Grandpa’s Feeders. These are pricey but will last a long time! Those can be found online. If you feed your chickens outside, this is a good option.

Per the company, it holds 20 lbs of feed and comes with a weather-proof lid. Nice!

feeder ideas for chickens

Another great option that is not as expensive is the Roosty’s feeder caps, which can be screwed into the side of a bucket, Tupperware container, or whatever container you decide to use.

These require a bit of work to get started by drilling a few holes before installing them. But the caps are designed to withstand damage from the sun, something that is an issue with our 5-gallon bucket setup. We have to replace them every few years due to being brittle from sun exposure.

Another feature we liked is that it’s rodent-proof! Rats and mice love chicken feed and this is an excellent way to deter them!

There are dozens of other options for chicken feeders to choose from, either online or off. Many will work just fine.

If you want to see the product first or simply don’t want to buy a feeder online, just head to your local farm store and get one there!

Closing Thoughts

We hope you gained a few helpful ideas for buying or making your chicken feeder! We’ve both made and built chicken feeders and both have worked just fine.

Honestly, we are partial to making things for our coop when time allows and we have the gumption to do so. But sometimes life gets busy and it’s just easier to buy one!

Regardless of whether you choose to build or buy your next feeder, your chickens will be happy either way.

Have a chicken feeder idea of your own? Please tell us about it below.

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Chicken Feeder

4 thoughts on “Chicken Feeder Ideas – Buy New Or Simply Build One In Minutes For Almost FREE”

  1. Thank you for sharing this information on how to choose the right chicken feeder. It’s so true that chickens are messy eaters and can end up wasting the food which indeed is expensive. My mum rears road runner chickens in her backyard, and they have a lower maintenance need as compared to other breeds of chickens. She uses anything from different sized bowls, pieces of asbestos roofs and uniquely cut out plastic bottles to lace the chicken feed inside. These are placed at various points so that the chickens don’t crowd in one place. These are all placed securely between stones and others above some bricks to raise the height for easier feeding. One disadvantage I have seen with the wider feeders like the asbestos roof is that the chickens can jump on it and leave droppings there by contaminating the feed for other chickens. I like your idea of the gallon feeders and will pass that along to her as well as the ones available on sale.

    • Nozipho – that sounds like a very ingenious set up your Mom uses. As chicken owners, we are always looking to try new and better ideas and, hopefully, save some money in the process. I hope your mom will try the bucket feeder.  

      Also – I’ve never heard of road runner chickens so I did some reading on them before responding back to you. It sounds like that is a fairly common chicken breed in Africa – I don’t think they are in the US, at least to my knowledge, but it sounds like a great breed. 

      Take care, and thanks for stopping by!

  2. We have been contemplating buying chickens again and I like all of these idea! I like the pvc ones the best as they are so versatile! Our problem is we have such a problem with wild life! The last time one of the neighbors had chickens the wild bob cats wormed their way in to the cage! It was awful!

    • Hello Brianna – We hope you decide to get some chickens! The PVC pipe feeders are easy to assemble – glue is not required for most of them which makes it super simple. I hope you don’t have bobcats in your area! A good chicken coop can withstand them but they are BIG. Good luck to you!


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