PVC Chicken Feeder With Meter




About: I am a husband and a father of 5. We try to stretch our resources to save money and stimulate creativity. There is no telling what you will find from us here on Instructables.

I'm not sure if anyone else has done this, but if you have, it will confirm that my idea was a good one! I just finished my coop and I wanted a way for my wife and kids to tell if the chickens needed more food without having to open the coop, unhook the feeder, open the lid and look into it. Sometimes you just want to get your eggs and get back into the house. I needed something on the outside of the coop to tell them what the feed level was inside the PVC feeder. This would make their trip to the coop more efficient as they would bring back valuable data in addition to the eggs.

I made the feeder based on many different designs I saw on Google images. I made a "weight" to sit on top of the food.  The weight would be tied to another object, which would dangle on the outside of the coop.  As the chickens eat the feed and the amount of food decreases, the weight goes down, and the object on the outside would then go up, indicating that my girls were running on "E".

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Step 1: Rigging It Up

I decided to use weed whacker wire as the string. I didn't want twine or butcher string fraying and getting caught on the wood.

Step 2: Testing Weight

Drill a hole in the cap for the weed whacker wire to slide through. I used a tape measure as a weight for testing purposes. You can use whatever you want, but I would try to make the weight as close to what you really use as possible.

Step 3: Fitting the PVC Feeder Into the Coop.

The next step will be to drill a hole through the wall to slide the wire through.

Step 4: Installing Meter

For the stopper thingy, I used the handle from an old wok that my wife accidentally set on fire. I cut a small piece off of the handle to use. It was light weight and whatever I used as a weight would easily pull it up when the level lowered inside the feeder.

Step 5: Weight Installed

And the water bottle says, "Take a load off, Annie. And you put the load right on me!" This is "The Weight" for "The Feeder"........ awesome! (that's a good song to have stuck in your head!)

Step 6: Secure Feeder Inside Coop

Try to secure the feeder inside the coop to where it can easily removed by your kids. That way they can do all the work! :)
This is a good look at the wire coming out of the cap and going out of the coop through the wall.

Step 7: DONE!!

To mark the levels I just emptied half and marked it, then emptied the whole thing and marked it again.

For a more detailed description of this project visit: http://eighthrising.com/pvc-chicken-feeder-with-meter/

BTW: I've been using this setup for about 3 weeks now and it has worked like a champ. The kids are always letting me know how much food is left.

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    23 Discussions


    3 years ago

    great idea. i am still in the planning stage of my chicken plans.

    look at step 8 on this:


    i will use a bandsaw to cut the cap, should be less scary than a chop saw.

    FYI the 2 inch caps work great for covering the top of jack stands, just cut a notch for the handle


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Oh man this is the next upgrade on our pvc feeder! Thanks for sharing! Love it!



    5 years ago

    Do the chickens waste much food with this setup? I have about 350 chickens, 300 of which we hatched and are at the stage where they don't stop eating! Food's expensive as it is, if this helps stop them from wasting so much, I'm on board!

    3 replies

    I have three of these (https://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Chicken-Feeder/) for a dozen birds, and we've found that waste depends on what kind of food we use and on whether the chickens have decided to be buttheads on any given day. For a while we thought pellets cause more digging around for the best piece and therefore spillage, but then we'd find that the crumble would be scattered sometimes. Never much though, never an even amount across all three, and quite often zero. And if they've made a mess in front of one feeder, we cap it off until they clean up after themselves (they can also easily go to the other feeders, but don't tell them that).


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    This is how much was left on the coop
    floor when the feeder was on "E". Looks like about a handfull. This
    isn't the scientific method I promised, but it should help.

    -maybe the opening for the food could be a little deeper and that would cut the waste down.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I have 4 hens and a roo. If I measure the amount of food that fills the feeder, then collect as much feed that hits the coop floor by the time it needs a refill it will give you a ratio. One good thing is that having the opening elevated almost a foot off the coop floor prevents chickens from pooping into them. I have never had poop in the feeder. Also, the rim of the opening acts as a cup which keeps most loose feed inside the feeder. There isn't much wasted. I'll see about getting the volume of the feeder tonight.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Good, proven idea. I watch the water level in a barrel for irrigation. The level is maintained automatically (pressure sensor from the washing machine). But it is interesting to observe. In a barrel - heavy float. Outside - pointer filling.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    This is giving me an idea for water level in my cheapo "home depot bucket" waterer. I'll keep you posted if I actually make it! (that video is what I used to make my waterer)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    baecker03, since the string had to go through the wooden coop wall, I wanted to use something that would fray and get caught on a splinter resulting in incorrect readings. Weed whacker line was smooth and strong which eliminated that risk. However, you could always drill a hole and push a grommet of some sort (like the plastic shaft from a BIC pen) into the wood so the string/rope wouldn't rub the wood. For rope you could probably use a piece of PVC.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    just use a lighter and melt the fraying ends... only concern is that the line is such a pain when it curls and is somewhat stiff.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice idea, simple and elegant.

    Was thinking about you having to remove the feeder to fill it.

    Why not put another joint (like the one at the bottom) at the top of the feeder tube. The angled pipe can then come out of the coop and used to fill the feeder. You can cap the filling tube with a standard cap or a screw on cap. The string and weight still go through the top (vertical section) cap.

    Filling is then, remove the outside cap, pull the weight up, pour in feed. You can still make it removable for cleaning, etc.

    Just a thought :)

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, I was trying to think of something like that, but the top of the feeder is already about 67" high. If I added a PVC joint I would have to stand on a stool or small platform and somehow get the feed into the small tube. That would have been ideal for the kids refilling it without my help, but it just didn't work out that way. Removing the tube ended up being pretty easy and I made a "chicken feed tube holder" to keep her steady while I poured the feed. I'll take a snap of that and add it tomorrow. Thanks for commenting!


    5 years ago on Step 7

    Super idea! I just posted a similar PVC feeder. I'm definitely going to incorporate your feed level idea. I'm also glad you gave the updated post letting us know it still works.


    5 years ago

    Three comments:
    1) great, simple feeder. I will try this when we set up our coop(first timers raising Chickens);
    2) The Band was awesome!
    The Weight was the best hands down;
    3) the statement "my wife burned up the wok?" Did you pay for that comment?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Techie. Hahaha, no she doesn't care. She's happy we were able to repurpose part of it.

    Awesome idea! If you wanted to you could probable set up a small switch on the top so that when it is empty a light turns on.