How To Build A Low-Cost Chicken Feeder

With a 5-gallon bucket and cheap veggie tray, you’re flock will be fine dining at a low cost.

by Alli Kelley
PHOTO: Alli Kelley

When we finished our chicken coop, I was disheartened when I went to buy a feeder. I thought the ones available were too expensive for the size and build. So I decided to do a little research and come up with a design on my own out of a bucket and a veggie tray. I’ll outline how I made it, and also include what I learned along the way and what I would change should I do it again.

I started with a 5-gallon bucket and lid I picked up at my local tack-and-feed store. If you have 5-gallon buckets and lids around, just wash them well and use those. Then I went to the dollar store and bought this veggie tray. I thought it would be good because it was harder plastic. I was wrong! In retrospect, I would use a tray made of more flexible plastic with edges that come up higher, which would help minimize the amount of feed the chickens can knock out. So when mine cracks to the point of no use, I’ll go get the more flexible one.

Alli Kelley

Before attaching the bucket to the veggie tray, we drilled 1-inch holes in the bucket that lined up with the compartments in the veggie tray. Then we drilled smaller holes in the bucket and the tray for the bolts to hold it all together. Because I picked a more brittle veggie tray, we were careful when we did this so that it didn’t crack. Then we bolted the tray onto the bucket, tightening just enough to keep it in place. Tightening it too much will also crack the tray. The feed doesn’t come out too fast with the 1-inch holes, which helps minimize wasted feed. As mentioned before, a tray with higher sides (deeper wells) would be even better, further reducing feed waste. This feeder is so simple, and so easy My chickens had no problems realizing this was their new feeder.

I was concerned about the tray cracking when the bucket was full of feed, but it has held up well. I load mine up almost completely full and have it sitting on cinder blocks, and I haven’t had any issues with cracking. If yours does, it will still work. I know this because I actually did crack mine pretty badly. But that was because I was moving it in the dark and half tripped over it while I was holding it. Something that definitely falls under the “user error” category—whoops!

Alli Kelley

Here is the cost line up for my homemade feeder:

Item                                                Cost
Lid                                                       $2.00
Bucket                                                $4.00
Tray                                                    $1.00
Total                                               $7.00

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Compared to a mid-range $20 feeder I could have purchased, that is a savings of 65 percent. Not too shabby, even if I do have to replace the tray for another buck. If you already have the 5-gallon bucket and lid, you could potentially make this feeder for just a dollar.

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