Update: The Lowe’s lids and buckets are being transitioned to better quality food grade buckets. The Lowes lids crack after a few months, and we’ve had one crack around the street elbow.
We’ve tried a number of different feeders over the past few years, some purchased and some homemade. We’ve settled on one we really like. The design came to us when we purchased an inexpensive chicken coop on Craigslist. A family had been keeping chickens in their backyard when a neighbor turned them in to the homeowners association. Along with the coop came a home-made bucket feeder. We’ve taken the design and made one improvement.
It’s a simple design, requiring 15-20 minutes to build. There are only two pieces and these can be purchased at any hardware store. The original design utilized silicone to seal the water out, but we found this to not be sufficient in keeping the water out. Instead of using silicone, we “weld” the two materials to keep water out.
3 inch PVC street elbow
Plumbing torch (or similar heat source)
1. Prepare the 3″ elbow by using the hack saw to cut notches out of the male end of the elbow. I’d recommend two or three 1.5″ wide by 0.5″ high notches. It does not have to be exact. When installed in the bucket, the notches allow the feed to fall into the inside of the elbow and be accessible to the chickens.
2. Determine the installation location for the elbow on the bucket. The shoulder of female end will be flush with the outside of the bucket and the male end will be flush with the bottom inside of the bucket. I roughly eyeball this location and mark it by holding the elbow as shown in the photo below. Mark by tracing the circumference of the elbow on the bucket.
3. Using a 2″ hole saw drill a hole in the center of the previously marked circle. I turn the hole saw by hand. If using an electric drill, make sure the bucket is secured as the hole saw tends to catch and rotate the bucket. If you don’t have a hole saw, you can cut by making a hole with a smaller drill bit and making the 2″ hole with the hack saw.
4. Being careful not burn yourself, use the torch to heat the edges of the hole until the plastic is malleable. See below. Gloves are advisable.
5. Quickly, insert the street elbow into the hole, with the male end sitting flat against the bottom of the bucket. Hold the elbow briefly as the plastic cools. Remember that the plastic is hot, avoid contact and wear gloves. Finished product below.
If desired you could put in multiple PVC elbows for multiple spots for the chickens to eat. I personally prefer to only put one and put it in the opposite direction of the prevailing wind (to avoid rain blowing into the bucket).
Note: A five gallon bucket will hold 20-25 lbs of feed. This will last 10 chickens about 10 days. This is dependent on forage availability, age of the chickens and other factors. In general, chickens consume about 0.2-0.4 lbs per day. We have about 50 chickens and use 5 bucket feeders.
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