Rachel Hurd Anger
July 15, 2015



For the last five years I’ve dangled a traditional, galvanized metal chicken feeder from a hard-to-reach hook in the run of my mobile A-frame chicken coop. The traditional feeder works fine, but it isn’t without problems:

  1. Chickens parade around the feeder like a merry-go-round, which leaves a crop circle in the grass every time we move the coop.
  2. Beaks splash crumble on the ground, wasting feed that becomes compacted into each new crop circle. Flies love it.
  3. While the flock free-ranges, the traditional feeder invites wild birds that can bring disease and parasites to my hens.
  4. The feeder takes up too much space when the chickens are confined—about a full square foot, right in the middle of the largest area in their 4-by-8-foot run.
DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

I wanted to try something different. I needed a new feeder that was simple and inexpensive, that would reduce waste, and be less vulnerable to wild birds. A PVC chicken feeder was my answer.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 3” x 5’ PVC pipe
  • 1 3” PVC cap
  • 1 3” PVC wye connector
  • 1 3” PVC cleanout plug
  • 1 3” PVC female adapter
  • 1 10’ galvanized pipe hanger
  • hacksaw
  • rubber mallet
  • 1?” wood screws (or what you have available)
  • jigsaw

Optional Materials:

  • 1 3” PVC 45 street adapter
  • 1 3” PVC 45 elbow

Step 1: Assemble the feeder base.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

To attach the cap to the bottom of the wye connector, you’ll need a short section of PVC pipe. First, measure the depth of the cap and the inside of the wye connector, and add the measurements together. Then cut a section of pipe that length using a hacksaw—ours was just shy of 3¼ inches. Fit the pieces together with the help of a rubber mallet.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

Step 2: Attach the remaining length of PVC pipe.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

Fit one end of the PVC pipe into the top of the wye connector, and stand it up to determine the best height for the feeder. Then cut the pipe if you choose.

Step 3: Add the female adapter and the clean out plug.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC  

Rachel Hurd Anger

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

If your version of the PVC feeder will remain vertical, you can add the female adapter and the cleanout plug at this point. For our coop, we needed to snake the top of the feeder around the roof and sidewall to reach our desired height, and we used the optional elbow materials to accomplish that. After that, we added the adapter and plug.

Step 4: Determine where your feeder will go.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

Perhaps you’ll mount your feeder to a wall in your coop or to a post in your run. We attached ours to the outside of the coop to make it easy to fill, but we cut a hole in the one of the door so the chickens can access their feed on the inside of the run. Once we decided where the hole should be, we reinforced the door by repurposing some old 2-by-2-inch furring strips to each side. Then we cut the hole, so the angled wye connector opening fit inside the door. Once the feeder was positioned exactly how we wanted it, we secured the feeder to the door with galvanized pipe hanger and screws.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

Step 5: Fill the feeder.

DIY Chicken Feeder Made Out Of PVC
Rachel Hurd Anger

I was worried about chicken feed becoming compacted in the bottom of the feeder, so I poured oyster shell grit to just below the level where the chickens will be eating. Then I filled the feeder with their regular crumble. Our feeder has about 2½ feet of pipe to fill, which holds a little more than half the amount of feed that the traditional feeder holds.

The beauty of this feeder is its simplicity, though it’s not perfect: A PVC feeder can be prone to condensation inside. Because we haven’t permanently sealed the feeder with plumbing adhesive and it’s outside the coop, it can get a little damp inside during hard rain. However, because our feeder is short and because the chickens eat voraciously, feed is always moving down and out. We haven’t had any trouble with mold or with smelly, fermenting feed. If we do, we’ll make some modifications.

If I find any evidence of mold or fermenting feed, I’ll empty the feeder, clean it with vinegar and let it air dry. (I’ll clean the feeder this way on a monthly basis even without problems.) Then I’ll put a vent cap for the top of the feeder to let air in and allow moisture to evaporate, while protecting the inside from rain. Seasonal changes might affect the success of this type of feeder or just necessitate a little ventilation, but so far it’s working great and there are no signs of problems.

The chickens and I all love our new PVC feeder. It’s already paying for itself in the amount of feed we’d otherwise spoil in crop circles or that we’d lose to wild birds. For my modest flock of eight, one feeder is plenty. If your flock and coop are larger, you might consider building two feeders to accommodate all of your hungry beaks.

 



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