13 Chicken Feeder Ideas: No-Waste, PVC, & More!

13 Chicken Feeder Ideas: No-Waste, PVC, & More!

If you’re raising backyard chickens, then you’ve likely also come across the pesky problem of raising mice and rats. A good quality feeder solves unwanted food freeloaders and keeps your feed fresh and bacteria free. In this article, you’ll find DIY chicken feeder ideas that’ll keep your coop a clean and happy place for your flock.

 

Rats and mice are a problem because not only do they eat your chickens’ food, they leave droppings, attack young chicks, and spread disease.

 

So, keeping them out and away from your flock is critical.

 

Let’s go over what you need to know, and how you can make your own DIY no waste chicken feeder.

 

(If you don’t want to make one, here’s the no waste chicken feeders I recommend. There’s links to different ones on Amazon and they’re all high quality and affordable).

 

What Can I Make A Chicken Feeder Out Of?

Anything can be a chicken feeder as long as it can be removed from the coop for cleaning and it holds food.

 

But if you’re here, you likely want something more sophisticated AND that’ll keep pests away from your chicken feed.

 

A bowl is great, but it won’t keep mice and rats out during winter, when they’re more likely to try to build nests in the nooks and crannies of your coop.

 

It’ll also attract ants, and give your flock a way to throw their feed everywhere – making clean up a nightmare.

 

So, let’s look at different DIY chicken feeder ideas that you can try at home!

 

List Of Possible Materials For A DIY Chicken Feeder:

 

  • Wood
  • PVC
  • Tupperware bins
  • Repurposed food-grade barrels
  • Metal
  • Rubber

 

The possibilities are really endless – this is just a brief list of possible materials. You might even have them on hand if you build your own chicken coop!


We’ve found it easiest to make a no waste feeder from PVC, from parts sourced at any hardware store. Another easy option are the repurposed food-grade barrels. (See our DIY horse feeder tutorial here – it can easily be adapted for poultry).

 

In my experience, these are the two simplest chicken feeder ideas to implement.

 

While wood seems like a good idea, and it’s readily available, it’s not very easy to clean, and it can harbor bacteria in the grain.

 

If you have access to welder (a simple one is around $100 at hardware stores), a metal chicken feeder is great also.

 

5 Gallon Bucket DIY Automatic Chicken Feeders

Making a DIY chicken water feeder out of a 5 gallon bucket takes just minutes. This one is my favorite!

 

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While this video is about how to make an automatic chicken water feeder out of a 5 gallon bucket, this idea can very easily be adapted for feed.

 

It costs about $12, and will take 5 minutes of your time. 

 

Easy access to feed and water will improve egg production and lower the chances of your chickens developing bad habits like feather picking (which can easily be confused with chicken mites, so make sure they’re truly bored).

 

Click here for the tutorial for 5 gallon bucket automatic chicken feeder waterer

 

Here’s a second idea, using an an extra PVC component

Wood DIY Zero Waste Chicken Feeder

Wondering how to make a chicken feeder out of wood? This idea is good – but just note that it’s made out of wood. So, you’ll need to take extra care to clean it.

 

If you have wood hanging around, though, it’s very easy to make!

 

If I were to improve on it, I would add a second door at the bottom, so it can be shut at night to keep rodents out. (While chicken wire will keep most rodents out, keeping the feed closed at night will reduce the temptation to raid your coop, and reduce your mouse population.)

 

Get the tutorial here

 

Here’s a second idea that looks easy to execute

 

PVC Pipe Feeder

We recently built one of these for our chicken coop, and it’s an easy chicken feeder idea to execute.

 

You’ll need to decide whether you want to drill holes into a PVC pipe for individual feeding holes, or remove the top portion of the pipe for easy group access.

 

You’ll also need to make sure there’s enough holes for each chicken – so if you have a large flock, like I do, then making access as easy as possible will also make your life simpler.

 

PVC Feeder Idea #1 (group automatic feeder)

PVC chicken feeder idea

PVC Feeder Idea #2 here (multiple individual feeder holes)

PVC feeder idea #3 (single feeder hole)

 

DIY Rain Proof Chicken Feeder

If you want to locate your feeder outside the coop, then you’ll need to make sure it keeps the grain dry. Sometimes chickens can be picky about the texture of their feed, and might turn their beaks up at mushy mash.

 

Muddy feed also molds fast (and can shorten your backyard chickens’ lifespan) – so, it should always be a priority to ensure your chicken feeder keeps your flock’s food safe from the elements that could cause it to spoil.

 

The easiest way to execute this chicken feeder idea is to add a rain hood or cap onto a PVC feeder.

 

This idea is made from an old kitty litter bin. Just be sure to clean the bucket before using it (and clean the bucket more often than this author has)

 

Get the tutorial here

 

You can also try to make the PVC feeder below – this one has a rain hood you can find at any hardware store. The only caveat is that because of the rain hood, it can’t be closed – so rats can still get in.


However, it IS a no waste feeder. You will need to make multiple ones, however, if you have a larger flock.

 

Get the tutorial here

 

DIY No Waste Chicken Feeder Bin From A Tote

If you have a plastic tote (aka Tupperware bin) hanging around, you can make an easy no waste feeder from it. You’ll need to drill holes into it (2-3 inch holes) and add PVC pipes. You can use glue to hold the PVC in place.

 

It’s easy to clean, reduces food spoilage, and keeps your feed dry!

 

Get the tutorial here

 

DIY Hanging Automatic Feeder

DIY YouTube chicken feeders are easy to execute because you usually get step by step instructions. If you have a lot of time, and are handy, then this chicken feeder idea might be for you. Looking at the video, it feeds chickens a few grains at a time when they poke at a hanging element.

 

It’s clever, but I think it also can be improved upon. I personally would opt for one of the feeders above (but it might work well for your situation!), especially if you feed a mash (it looks like this will only work with pellets or a textured feed)

 

It’ll also certainly keep rats out of your food. For more intelligent and mischief-loving breeds, like Speckled Sussex, a feeder like this will entertain them for hours. 

 

 

DIY Baby Chick Feeder

For chicken feeder ideas for your chicks, here are some incredibly creative and simple chicken feeder ideas for you to try.

 

It’s always a good idea to keep plastic out of landfills! These look like they can me made in just a few minutes

 

I love how this one re-uses a yogurt container

 

Upcycled 2 liter soda bottle

 

DIY Chicken Feed Recipe

If you’re interested in feeding your chickens with organic and non-GMO feed that will keep them healthy and happy without costing you a lot of money then you’ll find this recipe helpful:

 

Get my best organic non-GMO chicken feed recipe here

 

Don’t want to make it yourself? You can buy my favorite 100% NON-GMO layer feed here

 

What Do You Feed Organic Chickens?

A high-quality layer feed with 16% protein and supplemented with nutrients is the best thing to feed backyard chickens. You can make your own feed using my layer feed recipe here, or find a high-quality non-GMO chicken feed here. You can also supplement their diet with table scraps, alternative chicken feeds like dried insects, and high quality chicken treats. It’s also critical to know what chickens can’t eat, like avocado and dried beans.

 

Here’s a brief table of what chickens can eat (not comprehensive):

 

Fruit Legumes Vegetables Seeds Proteins Dairy Grains
Berries Peanuts Spinach Sunflower Mealworms Milk Wheat
Cantaloupe Alfalfa Hay Tomatoes Flax Black Soldier Fly Larvae Greek Yogurt

(Plain)

Oats
Watermelon Peas Squash & Pumpkin Pumpkin Dried River Shrimp Cheese Rye
Bananas Clover Kale Hemp Eggs Whey Millet

 

You can also find a list of what chickens eat here.

 

Here’s a list of what chickens SHOULD NOT eat:

 

Vegetables Fruit Legumes Grains Other
Potato skins Avocado skins & pits Dried beans Dry rice Salt
Onions Apple seeds Uncooked beans Chocolate
Chards Peach pits Lots of sugar
Rhubarb leaves Coffee

 

Should I Hang My Chicken Feeder?

Yes, hang the chicken feeder to keep vermin out of it and so your chickens don’t poop in their grain. Be sure to at an appropriate height – 8 to 12 inches off the ground is best. You can also hang it about the middle of your bird’s back, if you think 12 inches is too high. In addition, by hanging your chicken feeders, you prevent vermin and predators from getting to the food.

 

How High Should I Hang My Chicken Feeder?

8 to 12 inches off the ground is best. You can also hang it about the middle of your bird’s back, if you think 12 inches is too high. Remember that some chicken breeds like Silkies can’t fly, and Cochin bantams and Sebrights are very short, so make sure your feeder is at the right height for everyone to get a meal.

 

How Do I Keep Rats Out Of My Chicken Feeder?

To keep rats out of your feeder, you’ll need to use a feeder that closes. Also store food away, and make sure to clean up any spills as they are likely to attract unwanted guests. You can check out my automatic chicken feeder ideas here.

Organic Homemade Chicken Feed Recipe (That Won’t Break The Bank)

Organic Homemade Chicken Feed Recipe (That Won’t Break The Bank)

Of course most people are interested in feeding their chicken flock a homemade, organic, non-gmo feed – you are what you eat, after all – but if you’re anything like me, the expense is out of your reach.

Until now. I’ve cracked the code on creating a homemade organic feed recipe your chicken will love, and your wallet will love it too. I’ve done it by pairing together two time-tested ideas, and the result is a huge amount of nutrients for your chicken with less cost.

I do keep a couple bags of commercial food on hand – sometimes this or that ingredient takes a while to get to us, and the flock still needs to eat!) You’re probably thinking, “Whoa, wait. You write books that tell readers to rely on a good layer ration. What gives?”

It’s true, I do tell readers to use brand name products. I’m a realistic person who’s here to help people – sometimes homemade products just aren’t for some chicken owners.

READ NEXT: 8 WAYS TO SAVE MEGA BUCKS ON YOUR CHICKEN FEED

Not everyone has the time or energy to research and mix a homemade organic chicken feed recipe, and commercial grains are formulated to give your flock the optimum amount of nutrients.

If you can afford to pay the high price for commercial organic grain, there’s nothing wrong with going that direction. Your chicken will get her basic nutritional needs met, and live a happy, productive life.

However: In my experience, what you’re really paying for is marketing. And if you use organic commercial chicken grain, you’re really going to break the bank.

So I’ve been testing a homemade recipe that still will let you throw organic chicken feed to your hens without breaking your wallet. Here’s my homemade recipe and method to creating an organic chicken feed that will help them stay healthy and produce great eggs and meat.

1. Gather Your Ingredients

The first question is to address the ingredients for your homemade chicken feed. You need ingredients that will provide the right protein, vitamin, and mineral content for your flock.

A note about corn: Although corn is a great source of energy, it’s nothing but empty calories.  It’s pretty much a cheap filler companies use to extend their ingredients that provide value. Can you raise a chicken on corn successfully? Yes. And there’s plenty of people who do it. But it’s not right for my flock because there’s other, better, things to feed them that are just as cost effective.

This homemade recipe leaves out corn, although a handful to your chicken’s dinner during the winter, if you live in a cold environment, will do some good since they’ll need an additional source of energy to help them stay warm.

READ NEXT: 10 ABNORMAL CHICKEN EGGS YOU NEED TO KNOW!

For my basic homemade chicken feed recipe, I use:

  • Wheat (hard or soft, winter or spring – it doesn’t matter)
  • Peas 
  • Mealworms (live or freeze dried)
  • Oats
  • Sesame seeds or sunflower seeds

A note about where to buy your grains: I do purchase my grains from Amazon. There’s no way around it for me because there’s no place local to purchase organic grains. Period. I included the links above for your reference, but you should always check to see if you can purchase them for less near you.

You can do the research about the ingredients for this organic mix here, but you’ll find when combined, this recipe yields between 16 – 18% protein – for a growing pullet and a layer, that’s the optimum amount of protein.

Both wheat and peas are great for protein (wheat has about 17% protein while the peas are about 24%). The oats are an excellent source of fiber in a homemade recipe, while the sesame and sunflower seeds are great for fat.

There’s some controversy about the amount of mealworms a chicken should eat. Given the ability to forage, hens will consume large quantities of bugs – which are almost pure protein.

However: If a chicken eats too much protein, she can develop kidney and other problems. When it comes to mealworms, add a 1/2 cup to their daily ration to start with, and let your chicken tell you if she needs more. If they seem like they need a protein bump, add another 1/2 cup or so of the meal worms.

While I believe it’s best to offer live mealworms, not everyone has the time or energy to raise them for a homemade recipe (or the desire, they’re bugs after all!). That’s okay – Freeze dried ones provide a nice protein bump to your homemade grain too, and they’re easier to store.

2. Sprout Your Seeds

This is where the real savings comes in. When you sprout your wheat into fodder, you automatically unlock nutrients, and create a homemade chicken feed that’s easier for your flock to digest. In other words, more of the nutrients become bioavailable.

The first time I sprouted seeds, it was revolutionary. Mind. Blown. A tiny berry in the recipe became something much more nutritious and valuable than it was before.

You can read my recipe to sprout fodder here. For homemade chicken feed, I recommend soaking the grains (also known as berries) for 24 hours, then allowing them 3 days to sprout. 

You can sprout them longer than 3 days, but you might run into issues with mold. After 3 days, they’ve started to sprout and unlock the grass, but they haven’t turned into a moldy mess that might make your chickens sick.

Once your grain has turned into fodder, you can feed the same weight or volume amount – which ends up being less seed overall.

And the berries have turned into something more nutritious that it could ever be as just a seed. Depending on the type of peas you purchase, you can sprout your peas as well. (Note, if you purchase split peas, you won’t be able to sprout fodder).

I don’t recommend sprouting oats. In my experience, by the time the oats actually sprout (it can take a while), they tend to be moldy. That being said, it’s perfectly fine to soak them overnight. (If you want, you can substitute the wheat for barley in your recipe – barley is hard to come by in my region, which is why I use and recommend wheat.) Before you feed your hens their ration, mix your sprouted seeds with the remaining ingredients. 

3. Create a daily ration

Because everyone has a different amount of chickens, it’s hard to give you exact recipe. For 5 chickens, however, in my experience, the following recipe works well for each meal:

  • Sprouted seeds (5 cups)
  • Peas (2.5 cups)
  • Oats (2.5 cups)
  • Sesame Seeds (2 tablespoons)
  • Mealworms (1/2 cup)

While this homemade recipe usually works well, you might need to scale up or down a bit depending on your flock’s needs, and whether you allow them to forage.

homemade organic chicken feed recipe with fodder

4. A note about fermenting

If you want to ferment your homemade chicken feed, you can leave the wheat soaking for another day or so. You will get bubbles what let you know the fermenting is taking place, and the berries will still sprout while submerged.

As with anything fermented, let your nose be your guide – if it smells funny or rancid, toss it. Wheat that’s properly fermented will smell something like fresh bread or slightly like beer. I don’t recommend letting it soak for longer than an additional 2 days. You will unlock a lot of nutrients as it ferments, but if you wait too long, you can run into other issues.

Make sure you keep your fermenting vessel covered and completely under water. You can ferment the peas as well, following the same steps. Here is my guide to fermenting chicken feed which works for my organic homemade chicken feed recipe or commercial feed.

5. Adding supplementary ingredients

You can add your supplementary ingredients to your homemade chicken feed, such as kelp, garlic, or oregano right before you feed your hens. Just mix them in as you normally would.

I’m a big supporter of giving all three of those supplements to your chickens in a homemade recipe – kelp especially will help ensure your flock gets an iron boost, and the garlic and oregano are great for their antiseptic and immune boosting properties.

This homemade organic chicken feed recipe has been successful for me – I hope it is for you, too!

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you tried making your own homemade organic chicken feed recipe? What have you tried? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!

Yes, you CAN make your own organic homemade chicken feed with this easy recipe!