Picture of PVC Chicken Feeder
We wanted a lot from our chicken feeder: it had to be easy to fill, hard to spill, safe from non-chicken life forms, weather resistant, easy to make, and inexpensive. We tried a number of other designs that worked to varying degrees, but this was the only one that did all we asked it to. Enjoy!
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Step 1: Trial and error

Picture of Trial and error
There are lots of PVC chicken feeders out there, and several folks have gone with a design very similar to this one. But I haven't seen the extra three-inch piece added to the Y connector: without that small extension the chickens managed to spill quite a lot of food, but that three-inch piece cut spillage to almost zero! 

We tried a 180-degree elbow with the edge cut off: the birds were able to eat just fine but they spilled quite a lot, and closing the pipe for waterproofing and rodent-proofing would have required additional engineering. We considered quite a few other variations, but they all had drawbacks; mostly related to spillage and security.

At first the bottom part connected to the "Y" was only three inches long and the birds didn't like that much, so we set it up on a brick and the chickens seemed to like the altitude better, so the final version uses a six-inch length of pipe to place the food where the chickens can easily reach it.

Another way to go (and in response to some reader comments): if you add some kind of plug right at the bottom of the Y, the birds would be able to reach all the food. It will take you more than 3 minutes to assemble, but it would be more efficient. Of course, it's best to use plastic or something else that can be thoroughly cleaned. Most of the plugs I see out there would work, but you'd be back to the height problem (if you're concerned about chicken ergonomics). Easy to fix: just mount the feeder higher. Or: run a long carriage bolt through the base cap (or plug), letting the end stick out and hit the ground, like the spike that sticks out of the bottom of a stand-up bass or cello.

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Bloodbeard11 hours ago

I really wanted to make one of these, but I've searched all over for the PVC and have had a lot of trouble finding anything over 2". I could use ABS, but that stuff is too pricey -- I'd wind up paying something like $40-50 for one feeder.

sohosh.soto4 months ago

If you use one of these 2 chken can eat at the same time

sohosh.soto4 months ago

If you use one of these 2 chken can eat at the same time

montyhl1 year ago
Instead of using PVC glue, avoid toxic fumes and allow for reuse by sealing joints with white electrical tape. Also, more then one chicken in the coop will crowd around and fight over access to the feeder. Why not create several outlets by daisy-chaining "T" connectors. Nice idea. An improvement over the wooden trough feeder I made as it prevents the chickens from walking in the trough and using it as an outhouse.
Daisy chaining the Y connectors would make them go vertical.. the upper ones would
go empty as the food level diminishes. that type of feeder wont work horizontally, because its gravity fed. Maybe more then one if you have chickens with bad manners ;)

You could make a double feeder by using this instead of a "Y" Connector.

Although that part is over $100, you could probably get away with something like this and a couple 45 degrees and get similar results.

mcraghead (author)  montyhl1 year ago
Whether it's a feeder or a nest box or a treat tossed to the flock, they are all about "prize envy:" the things they find most appealing are the things another chicken has. So yes, they do all want the same feeder, and every meal is another pecking-order negotiation. But yes, this design would br fine for a few birds, but out flock hovers around 15, and three feeders seems to sufficiently keep the peace.
Around here there are troughs with a rotating perch above the food, running lengthwise.

If chickens try and step into the trough, they'll fall.

You can do the same with a piece of pipe hanging on a steel wire.
BarryC25 months ago

I found this style worked better for my girls:

flodato made it!1 year ago

I used this to make my feeder. So easy and works great! I added a feed level indicator to it. I also made this little stand to hold it steady while I fill it.

mcraghead (author)  flodato1 year ago

Very nice, love the meter and the stand, well done!

bakdrft1 year ago

I took a similar design for a Deer Feeder

plaracy1 year ago
Thanks! Saw this and built one. Makes life easy.
wasinaus1 year ago
Great idea - I built a variation of the U (or J) shaped feeder which works ok - It had a cap on the end and then I cut a couple of large holes in the top of the flat section to provide access - works ok but occasionally if things get wet and the grain sprouts it is a pain to clean out - your design would be easier and take less space Thanks

myrrhmaid1 year ago
MUST HAVE! Thank you!!!
I've bee using this ever since the instructable came out. I used a 2" tube instead and had the 3" tube on the bottom. I also used a 1 1/2" ring to lessen the spillage. I just dump out the feed from the bottom and refill instead of remixing it. I haven't had a problem with mol because it's hot and summertime here. I also Velcro it to a post and another one to the chicken wire and all under the roofing of the coop/run. You guys worry too much.
This is awesome!
denswei1 year ago
You could provide some rain protection by cutting the protruding pipe at an angle--so the bottom would be 3", and the top at least 6" long. It might make it more difficult for the chickens, but it would protect against rain that's not blowing.
Another idea is split a length of larger diameter pipe (6"?), and bolt it to the top. The half pipe would allow the same access from below, while the extra width better shelter the opening.
skylane1 year ago
One could also use black ABS using the same design...
and yes.. glue is not mandatory... you could easily use a
small wood screw into each joint if you need it. The parts
should fit pretty snugly without any glue...
bahi1 year ago
Clever, simple and useful, nice instructable, thanks.
Very clever. Simplicity is high value. Just use a wider pipe.
dimdiode1 year ago
This is so simple, and yet so good. A really elegant design. We keep chickens, and I have to say this design could solve the problems of having to crawl around in the run to fill the feeder. Just make the pipe tall enough to reach outside the run. I imagine some sort of truncated cone could be used to keep ratty from getting to the feed - maybe something to consider. Nice.
mcraghead (author)  dimdiode1 year ago
Rats are too smart for me... but they don't show up during the day and we cap off the feeder at night.
Lazy Glen1 year ago
I don't have chickens, but I like your design. If it is exposed to the rain, I would think that an awning type cover to keep rain out of the eating hole would be appropriate. As for elevating it ... what about short / young chickens?


I just gotta ask the other question - aren't chickens pretty much DESIGNED to eat from the ground? Is "Carpel Neck Syndrome" a problem for your flock?

mcraghead (author)  Lazy Glen1 year ago
Good point about pecking - chickens are indeed designed for whacking their little heads at the ground. Maybe they were just playing a joke on me when they convinced me to elevate their feeder? Damn, outsmarted again.

As for the young ones: they are usually segregated in different accomodations and eating different food than the big girls, so they would be eating out of something else entirely.

Light rain is barely a factor and our feeders are mounted where we can rotate them so they are covered by the raised planter boxes in heavier rain... but I do like the idea of an integrated awning-ish thingy for a torrential downpour.
Great simple design, only problem is that food in the opening of the feeder would still get wet when it rains, not a huge issue since most of the food would be protected, so I'll definitely be trying out this design.

As for the plug to prevent any food being wasted in the bottom, you should be able to find test caps like this.

Get the right size for whatever diameter pipe you're using, plug the top of the 6" length piece you're using for the added height, and insert the pipe into the "Y." You could even punch several small holes in it to allow rainwater to drain out if it's going to be in the rain at some point.

I would posit that it still keeps the assembly time under 3 minutes.
mcraghead (author)  Londonbrig01 year ago
Nice, that plug would be perfect!
genne1 year ago
Cool! I'll do it right now for my hen named Bianca!
Greetings from Italy
mcraghead (author)  genne1 year ago
Wingloader1 year ago
I love your badass chicken!
mcraghead (author)  Wingloader1 year ago
She keeps beating me up and taking my lunch money.
Would it be possible to top it with a 5 gallon bucket to extend the time between refills?
mcraghead (author)  esotericman1 year ago
Absolutely! As long as you're not risking mold: I wouldn't do that here in Humboldt County, CA., because it's so humid...
Buy or build one of these.
rrehor1 year ago
After thinking about it a plug would be a great thing to have. The old food would never be pushed out of the bottom. Therefore the old food would act as a plug. Correct me if I'm wrong please.
But having old food in the bottom of the pipe would likely cause mold...probably not the best thing for your poultry to eat.
mcraghead (author)  DeeRilee1 year ago
Right: we rotate through the food very quickly, dump it and stir it up so it never becomes a plug or gets moldy. You'd definitely want to make adjustments if you're birds aren't eating fast enough to require routine maintenance.
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