DIY 5-Gallon Bucket Chicken Feeder

If you are looking for a short & sweet tutorial, you have found it! This DIY Bucket chicken feeder is so simple to make that it won’t take me long to walk you through the steps. Use this feeder to feed laying hens, meat birds, and even chicks. All you need is a bucket with a lid, a drill, and a pan. 

How to Make a 5-Gallon Bucket Chicken Feeder

Homesteading is all about sustainability… making the most of what you have, leaving a smaller footprint, and relying less on commercial stores. 

Making your own bucket chicken feeder can save money (have you seen the price of new ones lately:|) and make use of things that you may already have lying around. 

Most commercial feeders are basically a bucket with some type of catcher underneath (think of those big red saucers at the feed store). This DIY chicken feeder follows that same concept without costing $30.

meat bird tractor with feeder and waterer

I LOVE anything functional & low maintenance around here. Being a single mama with 5 kids means that I don’t have a ton of time to fuss with daily chores so it’s low maintenance or it is out. That’s one reason I am a fan of this automatic chicken feeder design.

The design of the feeder will also keep mice and other critters out better than DIY chicken feeders with large openings. The only downside that I see is that the bucket and pan need to be lifted together when moving unless you adhere the bucket to the pan (see notes). Let’s get into it!

Where to Get 5-Gallon Buckets

I’m going to assume for a moment that you don’t have a pile of buckets lying around your homestead somewhere. If that is the case, where do you get them? 

There are a few different options:

1. Feed/Supply Store

Grab brand new buckets for a few dollars each at a feed or supply store like Tractor Supply Company, Lowes, or Rural King. Don’t forget to grab a lid!

2. Online Shops

5 gallons buckets can be purchased online from stores like Amazon (great for free shipping) if you can’t find any locally.

2. Local Marketplaces

You can find affordable and sometimes free buckets on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Make sure that they weren’t used to hold any chemicals or other materials that could harm your birds. 

3. Local businesses

Many local businesses will give away or sell their used 5-gallon buckets. Again, make sure that you know what the buckets previously held and be sure that they come with lids.

DIY Bucket chicken feeder in a chicken tractor with red rangers in the background

Materials Needed:

Instructions for the 5-Gallon Bucket Chicken Feeder:

This low-cost DIY feeder is very simple to make with only 4 steps including filling it with feed!

STEP 1- Make Holes

Drill holes using the hole saw attachment at the bottom of the bucket (on the side) every 2-3 inches. You want the holes to be big enough for the feed to come out, but not so big that it spills out over the pan. I have found that a 1-2” hole works well. 

STEP 2- Place in Pan

Sit the Bucket with holes onto the pan. I use a galvanized pig pan, but you can also use a rubber pan or even an aluminum disposable baking pan. 

STEP 3- Fill with Feed

Fill the bucket up with feed and make sure that it flows out just until the pan is full. As the chickens eat the feed down, more feed will dispense. You may need to shake or spin the bucket every now and then to move the feed down further. 

STEP 4- Add the Lid

Pop the lid onto the bucket and set your new 5-gallon bucket chicken feeder where you want your birds to eat. 

DIY bucket feeder in chicken tractor

DIY Chicken Feeder Notes

  • If you have a large flock, you will want to make multiple chicken feeders so each chicken will be able to access feed as needed. 
  • I do recommend keeping this bucket chicken feeder out of the rain or the feed will get wet and stop up the holes.
  • I mentioned this earlier, but it is worth repeating- make sure that you don’t use buckets that previously held hazardous chemicals, drywall mud, or anything that may hurt your chickens even in trace amounts.  
  • This is a virtually vermin-proof feeder. Mice and other critters cannot get into the bucket to steal feed. They can eat what is in the pan, but they can’t enter the bucket.
  • You can turn this into a hanging feeder by drilling a hole in the center of the pan and the bottom of the bucket. Then insert a bolt and fasteners to hold them together.
  • You can drill smaller holes if you are feeding chicks. This isn’t necessary, but it is an option. As the birds grow you can drill larger holes and cover the small ones with masking tape to increase the flow of feed.

Curious to see what other projects you can do with 5-gallon buckets on the homestead? Read this article for 12 ideas!


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