If you’re anything like me, then you probably don’t throw out a whole lot of your building scraps. But then they sit around the shed or garage and they get burned, or they rot, or they’re possibly used in some projects.
After building a new chicken coop last summer, I found a great way to use some of the smaller scrap pieces of trim.
I had purchased some three-inch PVC pipe to make a feeder, and I spent about $30 on the PVC, a T piece, and two angle pieces to make a double-sided chicken feeder. The feeder part, though, got wet in the rain, and the feed turned so mushy that the chickens would barely touch it. So after staring at a pile of small trim pieces, I decided to do something with them.
It turns out that a 1×4 piece of lumber is the same width as the outside diameter of three-inch PVC. So by simply adding four sides to a small piece of 1×4 wood, a length of PVC pipe will fit right into the box, and provide a few days of food. That is, as long as you keep it covered from the rain and snow.
This turned out to be a perfect solution to our problem of wasting chicken scratch. So much of what we were feeding the chickens went to waste by getting wet on the ground or being covered up by dirt or pine shavings. Also, since our winters are brutally cold, the chickens stay in the coop a lot of the days. This feeder that cost virtually nothing provides them with a steady source of food for a couple of days with very little waste.
The first step is to make the base box. I used three-inch PVC and 1×4 pine because that’s what I had around, but with a little finagling, you can make this with just about any size PVC and any wood you have around. I’ve found that for my seven chickens, this 30-inch-tall feeder lasts two days. You can always make two if you want it to last a little longer.
The box needs to be only basic. The bottom and ends are cut from the same piece of scrap lumber, and I cut some quarter-inch plywood to make the longer sides. The first one of these I made, I used all 1×4 wood, but again, just use what you have around. It is extremely important that the base and one end are really solid.
Once the box is made, cut your PVC to length. You will need to do three things to the PVC. First, make a notch cut in what will be the bottom end of the pipe. This notch should be about one inch high and one inch wide at the bottom, with a taper to a point at the top. This will ensure that too much food doesn’t come out and spill all over.
Second, on the exact opposite side of the notch, and at the other end of the pipe, make a hole from which to hang the feeder. I use two drill bits, one smaller than the other, to make a keyhole cut. This is the type of hole where it is larger on the bottom to accommodate the head of a screw, but then smaller on top so that when it hangs, it can’t pull off the wall over the head of the screw.
This is actually quite important as the chickens will be knocking into the feeder pretty regularly, and you don’t want it to fall on to them. You will also want to consider at this point if you need to put a cap on the top of the feeder. If it’s going to be inside the coop or really well-sheltered, then a cap probably isn’t necessary. But be sure to put the keyhole low enough to be clear of the cap if you think you might need one.
Then, put the pipe into the base, and pre-drill a hole through the back of the base and directly into the pipe. This is the screw that will hold the base to the pipe. This is why the one end and base should be made from something more solid than just plywood.
Once the base box is built and the holes in the pipe are all drilled and cut, you can attach the base to the pipe. Just use a sturdy screw to pull them together. The base is only supporting itself on the pipe, as the PVC is hung from the keyhole you put in at the top. That top screw is what is holding the weight of the entire feeder.
Then pour in feed from the top, and you’re all set for a couple of days. This is a nice, easy project that can be customized to your needs. If you have a tall coop or covered run, then feel free to use a longer length of pipe. If you have lots of chickens, then get the biggest diameter pipe you can find.
Just be sure to clean out all of the little pieces of PVC that are made when drilling and cutting. You don’t want your chickens eating all of that stuff.
So for basically no cost, you can build your girls a nice feeder that may actually allow you to go away for a night or two without worrying about your chickens. Plus you can get rid of some of the scrap lying around the shop. It’s really a win-win type of project.
Have you ever built a chicken feeder? Do you have any questions or advice? Share it in the section below: