How to build an inexpensive automatic chicken feeder

Updated February 21, 2017

Feeding chickens is easier if you have an automatic feeder. An automatic chicken feeder has a large compartment that holds chicken feed, and openings that release the feed into a tray at the bottom as the chickens eat the food. At the time of publication these feeders cost £3 for small feeder, but large feeders run between £9 to £19. Making an inexpensive, homemade chicken feeder is simple, and a large feeder only costs about £3.

Clean out the 5-gallon bucket with warm, soapy water, and rinse it out. Make sure all of the soap residue is rinsed out of the bucket. Dry the bucket completely with paper towels. If you use an old bucket that was filled with paint or chemicals, wash it several times so none of the chemical residue is in the bucket. Some chemicals are toxic to chickens.

Turn the bucket so the bottom faces up. Drill a 1-inch hole on the side of the bucket right above the bottom. Put five more holes around the side wall right above the bottom. Space the holes evenly around the bucket.

Sit the planter base on the bottom of the bucket with the top facing down on the bucket. Center the planter base, and hold it firmly in place on the bucket. Drill three 1/8-inch holes in a triangular pattern with the holes about 5 inches apart. Drill through the planter base and the bucket.

Feed the bolts through the three holes and carefully turn the bucket on its side. Put the nuts on the bolts, and tighten the nut with the pliers. This holds the base in place and keeps the bolts out of the chickens' reach. Chickens like pecking anything that is shiny.

Dump out any plastic debris left inside the bucket from drilling the holes. Fill the bucket full of chicken feed, and put the lid on the bucket. Hang the automatic feeder using the handle. If hanging the feeder isn't possible, place the feeder on a breeze block. Shake the bucket a few times and make the feed start flowing out of the feeder. The weight of the feed inside the container keeps food moving out as the chickens eat what is in the planter base.


Put the feeder in a covered area, so the chickens' food stays dry. If it gets wet, the food clogs up the opening.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids
  • Paper towels
  • Drill
  • 1-inch paddle drill bit
  • 24-inch plastic planter pot base
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Pliers
  • 3 Short 1/8-inch bolt with fitting nuts
  • Center block
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