Introduction: Automatic Chicken Feeder With Upcycled Gutter & Metal Pieces

About: Hey! We're Yasmine, Simon, Blaze, Nick, and Ben. We made a bunch of little guides for our engineering senior design project that we decided to share with you. Our aim is to encourage upcycling/recycling, homes…

This guide will walk through primary steps to create an automatic chicken feeder by using upcycled gutter and metal pieces.

The feeder stays closed to keep the feed inside clean and safe. Chickens would have access to the feed when they step on the pedal. Some training may be required at the beginning of the implement so that chickens know how to access the food.

There are four primary components: the gutter base, cover lid, mechanical linkage, and pedal. The fabrication process will be explained in the later step.

An alternative version of the feeder uses plywood instead of metal pieces, see link here:

This guide is also part of an automated chicken coop project. Other guides listed below and be found via this link:

  • Automated Chicken Coop Build (with drawer)
  • Automatic Chicken Door
  • Automatic Chicken Watering System
  • Automatic Misting System
  • Solar Panel & Rechargeable Battery Setup

*The fabrication process involves working with metals and requires some skills of using average household tools, such as power dill, snip, hacksaw, etc. Please ensure safety when fabricating. Safety glasses are recommended.

Step 1: Gather Materials & Tools

The materials used in this guide are mostly upcycled. They come from waste sources, such as local pick n' pull or junkyard. If desired, you can purchase them in a local hardware store or online.


  • Gutter & side caps
  • Upcycled metal piece (enough for making cover, pedal & mechanical linkage)
  • Upcycled hinges (size according to the dimension of the gutter, a piano hinge is desired in this case)
  • One or two brackets (attach to the cover lid, as part of mechanical linkage, reference step 4)
  • Two 1.5" long bolts
  • Two 1" long bolts
  • Two 2" long bolts
  • Nuts (more are needed than shown in the picture)
  • Rivets (or screws)
  • Washers (optional)


  • Power drill/screw
  • Metal sheet snip tool
  • Hot glue
  • Hammer
  • Rivet gun (alternatively using screws)

Step 2: Make the Cover Lid

Use a piece of metal to make the cover lid:

  1. place the piece above the gutter
  2. make sure it can cover the gutter
  3. flip the gutter around the place it on the metal piece
  4. mark a line on the piece
  5. use snip tool to cut out the cover

Step 3: Attach the Hinge

Depends on the metal piece you have, you may have to flatten it first, which is true in this case.

  1. place the cover lid on a flat surface
  2. flatten the cover lid, set it aside
  3. position the piano hinge on the gutter (use screw temporarily if choose to use rivets)
  4. use rivets of screws to secure the hinge
  5. check the hinge works and lid pivots well.

*if you don't have a piano hinge, reference step 3 & step 6 to put regular hinges on.

Step 4: Attach a Bracket on to the Cover Lid

One side of the cover lid has no side panel to put a screw in, so a bracket is needed:

  • drill two holes on a bracket
  • place the bracket on the cover lid (about 1" from the pivot end)
  • use a marker to trace bracket's holes onto the cover lid
  • drill the holes on the lid according to the mark
  • use rivets to secure the bracket
  • the other side has side panel to put through a screw, so no need for a bracket

*the bracket will be used for mechanical linkage later

Step 5: Drill Holes on the Side Caps

Drill a hole on each of the caps:

  1. mark the hole position as shown in the picture (2" from the base, 1" from the side)
  2. drill through the mark
  3. make sure a bolt can fit through

*the holes will be used as the pivot point for the opening mechanism

Step 6: Fix the Caps Onto the Gutter

  1. Drill the holes so that rivets can go through
  2. use a rivet gun to put on the rivets

Step 7: Make the Lever Arms

  1. use a metal strip, make the lever arms
  2. mark two strips as12" long (1-ft)
  3. mark hole positions as shown in the picture
  4. drill through the mark
  5. make sure bolt can fit through

Step 8: Mount the Lever Arms

use bolts and nuts secure the lever arms onto the gutter as shown in the picture

Step 9: Add Supports to the Front

  1. mark two strips on a metal piece
  2. use snip tool to cut along the mark
  3. bend the edges to correct angle
  4. drill holes on the supporting pieces and the gutter
  5. use rivets to secure them

Step 10: Make the Pedal & Attach It to the Two Lever Arms

use the similar method used in making the cover lid to make the pedal:

  1. mark a line on a piece of metal, leave some room for making the small side panel for mounting
  2. use snip tool to cut along the long
  3. bend the ends to create side panel for mounting by using a clamp tool
  4. drill holes on the side panels created & on the lever arms
  5. use rivets to mount the pedal panel

Step 11: Connect Lever Arms to the Lid

  • Make the connecting arms with the leftover of the metal strip used earlier (make them longer first, the length may need to be reduced)
  • Go from 4.5'' to around 3.5'', the correct length should be in this range
  • use trial & error to find out the proper length that allows the cover lid to a reasonable opening after the pedal is stepped on

Step 12: Use Hot Glue to Secure Nuts

  • apply hot glue to every nut
  • it acts as end cap to prevent nut from moving out

Step 13: Add Weight to the Cover Lid

use a small piece of metal sheet as weight so that the lid can close by itself when nothing is on the pedal

  1. cut a piece of metal to be used as weight panel
  2. drill two holes on the weight panel
  3. place the weight panel on the lid
  4. mark the through the holes
  5. drill on the lid based on the mark
  6. place the weight panel inside the feeder right under the lid
  7. use rivets to attach the weight panel

Step 14: Check the Mechanism Work & Train Chicken to Use It

  • check minimum weight to open the feeder
  • add or reduce weight if needed
  • the weight required is about a 8 oz hammer in this case