Introduction: Automatic Chicken Feeder With Upcycled Gutter & Plywood

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 make an automatic chicken feeder by using upcycled gutter and plywood.

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 metal pieces instead of plywood, 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 requires some skills of using average household tools, such as power dill, 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.


  • a sheet of plywood (enough for making cover, pedal & mechanical linkage)
  • Gutter & side caps Two hinges
  • (size according to the dimension of the gutter)
  • Ten screws
  • Two 1.5" long bolts
  • Two 0.75" long bolts
  • Two 1" long wooden screws washers (nylon or metal) nuts


  • Hacksaw power drill/screw
  • hot glue or epoxy
  • hammer or table clamp

Alternative for side caps: use plywood, shown in a later step

Step 2: Add Support at the Front

  1. On a piece of plywood, use a marker trace the front shape of the gutter
  2. Cut along the trace
  3. Repeat & make two pieces in total
  4. Use hot glue or epoxy to attach the two pieces to the front of the gutter

Step 3: Flatten the Back Side of the Gutter

  • If necessary, use a hammer or clap flatten the back side of the gutter so that hinges can be attached later.
  • If you have a piano hinge, this step is not necessary. A piano hinge can be mounted directly.
  • Please reference the metal version of the feeder in step 3 in terming attaching a piano hinge.

Step 4: Side Cap Alternative

Alternative to steel side caps:

  1. Trace inside of the gutter on a piece of plywood
  2. Cut along the trace
  3. Repeat & make two pieces
  4. Put one on each end of the gutter by using hot glue or epoxy

Step 5: Drill Holes on the Side Caps & Mount Them

Drill holes on the two side 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 screw can fit through
  • The holes will be used for resting the bolts and as part of the mechanical linkage. Therefore, they should be big enough for the bolts to go through.
  • Put the side caps onto the gutter, use nails or screws to secure them.

Step 6: Put on Hinges

  1. Position the hinges on the two sides of the gutter
  2. Mark two holes position & pre-drill the holes for the screws
  3. Screw in the hinges

Step 7: Make the Cover Lid

  • Cut a piece of plywood that would cover the gutter
  • Screw it onto the other half of the hinges

Step 8: Make the Lever Arm and Pedal

  1. From plywood sheet, make two strips,1-ft long and 1-inch wide
  2. Drill holes at the position shown in the picture ( 1st hole: 0.75'' from one end, 2nd hole: 5-inch from the same end)
  3. Cut a piece of plywood used at pedal (6-inch wide, length depends on the gutter, make sure the pedal is wider than the length of the gutter)
  4. Place the two strips onto the pedal perpendicularly
  5. Use nail or glue to fix the three pieces into one part

Step 9: Connect the Pedal and Gutter Base

  • using bolts and nut, fix the pedal onto the gutter so that it pivots properly

Step 10: Make the Linkage Bar

  1. Cut two 5-inch long and 1-in wide pieces from the plywood sheet
  2. The length should be a bit longer than the height of the gutter
  3. Make holes on one end of the bars (half an inch from the end)

*The location of the second hole will be determined in the later step

Step 11: Connect Linkage Bar to the Pedal

  • Using bolt, nut & washers to connect linkage bar to the pedal assembly

Step 12: Connect Linkage Bar to the Top Cover

Referencing the pictures, complete the opening mechanism

Step 13: Put on Hot Glue to Seal Off Gap, Hold Screw & Nuts

  1. apply hot glue to every nut
  2. it acts as end cap to prevent nut from moving out

Step 14: Add Stopper & Weight (optional)

  • Screw on two pieces of plywood strip (one long, one short) on the back of the gutter to prevent the cover from rollover
  • Add a block of 2by4 on the cover to increase minimum weight required to open the feeder

Step 15: Check the Mechanism Work & Paint (optional) & Train Chicken to Use It