Sunday, May 26, 2013

DIY Chicken Feeder ~ Easily Make it Yourself with PVC

One thing I hear quite often from backyard chicken keepers is the complaint that their chickens either poop in the feed dish or spill it all over the place.  Since I'm starting out with new chicks, I wanted to start out on the right foot by finding a feeder that would not allow them to get into it or onto it to poop in the food and I certainly didn't want them spilling it on the ground.  Feed is rather inexpensive, but not so much that you can afford to lose half of it to waste.  So once again I went on a search of the chicken forums that I belong to, to find out what might work for me.

After looking at several PVC feeders I settled on a final design that I got from a fellow chicken keeper called "appps" on the Backyard Chickens forum.  This design holds about 10 lbs of of feed (depending on how long you make the vertical tube) and has two feeder holes with a slight (22 degree) bend to prevent the chickens from accidentally scooping out more food then they can eat.  I went shopping for the parts but my limited knowledge about plumbing parts caused me to get parts that wouldn't work together.  On my next trip to the hardware store I took the hubby along.

Our Shopping List: (All parts are 3" white PVC)

(1) 5' length of pipe (they cut the pipe to the size I needed)
(1 ) "T"
(2) 90 degree Elbows
(1) Cap
PVC cement (which we already had)

How to assemble: (see Image #1 below for the finished product)

1.) Cut off two 3" long pieces from the 5' pipe. (needed to join the Elbows to the "T")
2.) Apply the PVC cement into one of the side holes of the "T" and quickly place one of the 3" long pipe pieces in the hole.  Work quickly because this stuff becomes solid almost instantly.  Then repeat for the other side.
3.) Dry-fit (do not cement yet) the Elbows onto the 3" pipe stubs.  Turn the Elbows in a slightly upward & forward position about a 22 degrees forward.
4.) With a Sharpie or other black marker, make a line on the Elbow pieces and directly across to the joining part of the "T".  This will help you quickly get the right angle when you are actually gluing the parts together in the next step.
5.) Now use the PVC cement to glue the pieces together in step 4.
6.) Glue the long pipe in the top hole of the "T".
7.) (Optional) Turn the cap upside-down and Carefully cut four slots in the sides of the cap. (this helped me to keep the cap from getting too snug on the pipe) (see Image #2)
8.) Install the feeder where you want it, (I used wire) strapped in two or more places s that it not only holds it up at the level you desire, but also supports the tall tube so it doesn't move.  Make sure there is sufficient room at the top to allow access for refilling.  If it is too tall, you can always cut off a bit of the tube.  Also make sure the feed bowls are no higher than chest-high of your shortest chicken.
9.) Fill the tube with your desired chicken feed and place the cap on top...Do NOT force the cap on because you will need to get it off when its time for refilling.  

Image #1 (finished product)
Image #2 Cap with slits cut.
Since my chicks were spending most of their time in the coop still, I installed my feeder inside and right on the floor.  A few days later I moved it outside and attached it to my watering system (see next post). The chicks had no problems reaching the food, even when the food level was down very low. Sometimes (probably because of humidity or the compaction of the feed) it takes a little extra pecking at the food at the bottom before the feed in the tube loses its battle with gravity and falls down into the bowls.  The chicks can always reach the food in the bottom even when it seems really low, then all of a sudden it will give way in the tube and pile up higher in the holes, but never overfills the feeding bowls.  Unlike other PVC feeders, this design with the 22 degree angles and deeper bowls, also prevents the chicks from scooping out more food than they are eating. 

I plan to build a roof or cover over the feed tube area when it starts approaching monsoon season so the food does not get wet in the holes.  Even if it did get a little wet though, it wont get the food up in the tube wet so once the chicks eat away at the wet food, the new dry food will come tumbling down for them.

This was a very easy project that just about anyone could do, but if you are not familiar with the plumbing parts, take a picture of this with you to the hardware store and they will be able to get you everything you need so the parts will work together properly.  This will save you the time I wasted returning to get the right parts.

Well with the feeder done, time to work on the waterer.  Please come back soon to see how I found the Perfect Watering System for my chicks!

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Did this post stir something inside of you? If so, Please leave me a comment, I would love to know what you're thinking!!!


  1. Wondering if this would work if it were shorter, like 3 feet instead of 5 feet? My coop is pretty short, so the 5 foot length would have to stick out the top, and I'd rather not do that. Wasn't sure whether or not you needed the full five feet drop for the gravity element to work...

  2. Thanks for the tips. I think I may try this for mine.


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