Frugal Low-Waste Chicken Feeder

by Texas Homesteader~ 

This is our first year to explore raising our own chickens. They have been so much fun to raise so far, and they are doing an amazing job of severely reducing the massive load of grasshoppers in our barn pasture, as well as almost eliminating the fly load on our calves when they’re confined here near the barn. 

Truly organic pest control – I can get used to this!

Using items picked up second hand we constructed a large chicken feeder that doesn't waste feed. See how! #TexasHomesteader

Flimsy Chicken Feeders For Sale

When we initially purchased our cute little day-old chicks we bought the basic starter supplies needed such as the little mason-jar feeder and waterer.  We opted to spend a couple of extra bucks and get the metal ones since they will last much longer than the flimsy plastic ones. But it wasn’t not too long before the chickens outgrew these tiny feeders.

We began eyeballing the next step up for feeders yet they seemed to be pretty pricey.  RancherMan and I began to formulate ways we could make our own. 

At first we tried with a 2-quart lidded tub attached to a large lid repurposed from a tub of ice cream. Although it worked fine there were some drawbacks.

The lightweight construction meant that when they jumped on top of the feeder to play ‘King Of The Hill’ it often turned over spilling it’s contents and wasting the feed.  Hummmm…

Looking For Items To Repurpose

You know I love to buy items used whenever possible and if I can buy those things at a thrift store even better – I can support a worthy cause. 

So RancherMan & I perused the isles of a thrift store recently looking for ideas. We found a large 19-cup Rubbermaid canister. Then we found what looked like a heavyweight metal lid with flat top & sides.  This will be PERFECT!

The lid is heavy so it will be harder to tip, plus although it’s apparently missing a part it will be perfect for us since it already has two holes drilled. 

We gleefully plunked down our $1.98 and exited the store, construction plans swirling in our minds.

Assembling Our New Chicken Feeder

Now let me say here that RancherMan is an invention genius – he has the ability to look at something and figure out how it can all go together seamlessly.  He really hit the mark this time.

He decided to drill four 3/4″ holes around the bottom the canister and he made sure to drill them as close to the bottom as he could.  This results in less waste when the feeder is filled because the chicken feed will not simply cascade out of the canister, but will flow out slowly as it’s consumed. 

The size of the canister in relation to the sides of the metal lid plus the fact that the canister flares slightly at the opening means there’s not enough space for the chickens to sit in the feeder and contaminate the feed (apparently a common problem)

Using items picked up second hand we constructed a large chicken feeder that doesn't waste feed. See how! #TexasHomesteader

The feeder works great and we’ve cut our chicken-feed waste to almost nothing with this setup.  It holds about 5 lbs of feed.

And it only cost us a whopping $1.98! Plus we were able to get that money to a worthy cause.

Using items picked up second hand we constructed a large chicken feeder that doesn't waste feed. See how! #TexasHomesteader

Sometimes ya just gotta think outside the  box… The chickens are very happy with their new feeder and so are we!


We’ve made other low-waste chicken feeders over the years using things we had around the homestead.

Coffee Canister. Using items picked up second hand we constructed a large chicken feeder that doesn't waste feed. See how! #TexasHomesteaderWhen the canister wore out of this feeder we replaced it with (wait for it) a coffee canister!




PVC Chicken Feeder

PVC Chicken Feeder. Using items picked up second hand we constructed a large chicken feeder that doesn't waste feed. See how! #TexasHomesteader

We also made this chicken feeder from PVC. This one is currently in the chicken run too.




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19 thoughts on “Frugal Low-Waste Chicken Feeder

  1. Jamie @ Medium Sized Family

    That’s a really smart idea! I miss my chickens so much. They kept the snakes and the ticks down around here. I’m getting more soon, though!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I know I really miss them when we don’t have them Jamie. We sell our hens each fall and buy more the following spring to raise them only during the warm months. Love them! ~TxH~

  2. kirsten

    Great post! What a wonderful idea. Going to have to make my own!

  3. John White

    Just had a thought. I’d try placing an upside down funnel in the center of the feeder. Black electric tape to hold it in place and cover the top. This would divert a larger portion of the feed to the outside edges. ???

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Hummm… a funnel would certainly move the seed toward the edges of the feeder John. Thanks for the idea. ~TxH~

  4. nancy

    Looks just like our store bought one. We put ours on top of a concrete block, keeps them off it…

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We tried setting the feeder up higher to keep them off of it but they still managed to jump up there & tip the feeder over somehow – very determined chickens. LOL ~TxH~

  5. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Although we have hawks here as well, we’ve really not had them bother the chickens yet (knock on wood) ~TxH~

  6. Redd

    I have been looking at ‘automatic’ feeders, but I am concerned that this method will attract rodents, which will attract snakes (I didn’t know that chickens will eat little snakes – thank you Kalamity kelli).

    I have been considering broad-cast feeding. My grandmother did this, she’d just scatter the feed on the ground. The chickens would eat it all. She didn’t ‘measure’, but I know she was putting down only as much as they’d eat.

    I am not sure if this is a good idea or not. What do you think?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Redd, that’s the way my grandmother fed as well. I’d think that although it’s more hands-on, feeding only what they’ll eat at one time is the best way to go. When either convenience or times when more feed is necessary (such as an out-of-town trip, etc) this feeder we came up with certainly works well. The chickens are in the barn where there’s already surely plenty of mice & rats, yet I’ve never seen one in all the time they have been housed in the coop. From what I’m reading chickens will eat not only snakes but mice as well (although I’m new to raising chickens so I can’t speak from personal experience) We’ve not experienced any rodent problems to date – Woo-Hoo! ~TxH~

  7. Candy C.

    What a great feeder! We finally broke down and bought the expensive metal ones because we got tired of replacing the cheap plastic ones. It cost us a LOT more than $1.98 though! LOL!!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL – I know Candy! And part of the fun of assembling this feeder was in the hunt itself. I think RancherMan did an awesome job! ~TxH~

  8. Erin

    My sweet man made a feeder out of one of those big ice cream tubs w/ large holes cut along the bottom just like yours and he set it into an old cake pan….

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Similar to the one we tried first Erin, but ours was too lightweight & these big girls kept jumping on top of it & knocking it over, spilling their feed. We didn’t have it in an old cake pan though, that certainly would have made it a little heavier-duty. Good job! ~TxH~

  9. Holly Johnson

    What a neat “re-purpose”!

    I’ve just started with chickens myself and I’m having fun learning as I go. Do you make your own chicken feed or buy it already made?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We buy chicken feed from our local NE Texas Farmers Co-Op. It’s less inexpensive there compared to the prices at the farm stores. ~TxH~

  10. Kalamity kelli

    That is truly ingenious! I grew up with about 200 chickens back when having free-range chickens was normal. If you haven’t already, you will notice a decrease in your snake population as they like to eat them when they are small – and that’s a very good thing out on the ranch!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      🙂 Thanks KalamityKelli – I’ve noticed a strong reduction in several different pests so I’m loving the free-ranging organic pest control. Can’t wait until they start laying eggs for us – any day now! ~TxH~


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