5 Steps to Make an Automatic Chicken Feeder (for Under $20)

Cheap DIY Automatic Chicken Feeder

I’m going to update the chicken feeder into a semi-automatic feeding system. It’s gonna hold a bit more feed so we can fill it once a week instead of daily.

This partially automated feeder will go very well with my automatic chicken watering system. The chickens will get easy access to food and water with minimal work from my end! Win-win.

Right now the chickens are still using the small feeder they’ve had since they were chicks.

But at 5 months old they are eating more than they can hold. So, it’s time for an upgrade!

Cheap DIY Automatic Chicken Feeder

This setup allows you to feed your chicken automatically (or is it semi-automatic?), without needing any electricity.

Here’s what you need and the steps to DIY this simple setup:

What do you need to build a chicken feeder

Here’s what you need to prepare to DIY your own automatic chicken feeder:

  • 10 feet long 4″ sewer pipes (similar to schedule 40 PVC pipes but far cheaper)
  • 2 x PVC elbows
  • PVC glue
  • Sawzall
  • Safety glasses
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • 3 x PVC caps
  • PVC T-joint
  • Clamps and plumber straps
  • Wire cutter

How do you make an automatic chicken feeder with PVC pipe

I had two choices for piping and wanted to go with the most effective and economic.

The first choice was 4” schedule 40 PVC pipes and fittings, but these are very expensive. Instead I got a 10 foot length of 4” sewer pipe.

The walls are thin, it’s lightweight, and even the fittings are cheaper. I got all of this for under 20 dollars. 

I’m not going to use primer on this since it doesn’t need to be watertight, so I’m just going with PVC cement on the fittings to hold it together.

To cut my pipes I’ll be using my Sawzall with a metal blade, sandpaper to round off the cut edges, some PVC glue, a few fittings for the design I’ve chosen, and three caps (two for the sides, and one for the top where I’ll be filling with feed).

I also have a T fitting that goes on the bottom and splits this line in two directions. I have a few clamps and some plumber straps to secure the system to the chicken coop. 

I will also need my wire cutters because I’ll be cutting through some hardware cloth I have on the chicken coop.

Step 1: Prepare the feeding tubes

Measure the PVC pipes to identify the 2 spots you’ll need to cut for the chickens to feed from. Roughly 2 feet from both ends should do it.

Mark the mid point of each end, at 12 inches from each ends of the tube. Then, use your Sawzall to cut through.

Now you’ll have 2 smaller pieces of about 12 inch long tubes. Sand the edges (where you cut them) till they’re smoothened out.

Take the T-joint and insert both of these smaller tubes into the T pipe.

Note: Don't glue the pipes to the T-joint yet! This will come later

Step 2: Cut the feeding holes

Next, you’ll need to cut through the pipe surface and make a rectangular hole on each end.

Measure and draw an outline of where you’ll need to cut through. This part doesn’t have to be exact, just a rough estimation would do. But don’t cut too close to the pipe edges or too near the middle T-joint.

Take your Sawzall and cut according to the outline you’ve drawn.

Then, use your sandpaper to smoothen out the cut outlines. Your chickens will be feeding through this hold, so better make sure there are no sharp edges!

Now you can use your PVC glue to stick the smaller 12 inch pipes to the T-joint PVC pipe.

Step 3: Attach the feeder to the coop

You should now have your T-shaped feeder done and ready to be placed in the coop!

Find a suitable place to hang the feeder, ideally neither too low nor too high.

Attach it to the coop walls with your clamps and plumber straps.

Next, cut through the coop wall wires so the top part of the feeder can fit through it. Attach the rest of the pipe and elbow pipe joint to the outer part of the feeder tubes.

Step 4: Place the end of the tube on the feeder

Finally, attach the end of the feeding tube to the automatic feeder. Pour in your chicken feed.

Close the cap once you’ve poured enough into the feeder.

And that’s it!

Final Thoughts

So far the chickens seem to like it.

There isn’t a lot of feed in there now, but we’re going to top it off later and that should hold enough food for 3-4 chickens for several days.

The feeder fill pipe comes out the back of the coop by the nesting box and this makes it pretty automatic. 

You don’t have to go inside the dirty coop or anything and it requires less maintenance.