There's a misconception that chickens attract mice and rats. Chickens don't - but their spilled feed does. Make a no spill chicken feeder with PVC pipe and a few connectors to reduce your risk of rats. And therefore the need to self medicate.
It's 7 o'clock, or close to it, on a warm summer morning. I'm still in bed, awake, but trying to fall back asleep again. Everything is quiet and motionless, with just the faintest sounds of the neighbourhood coming to life. A car door closing as someone gets ready to drive to work, sparrows chirping from a tree in the distance.
Just as the heaviness of sleep presses my body deeper into the bed, there is an earth shattering shriek that comes screaming out of the backyard.
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I'm not sure if you speak chicken or not but loosely translated that means, "Hey! Stupid!". Chickens are quite ignorant. And pushy.
So I hop out of bed and pad down the stairs and out the back door to let the chickens out into their run for the day. My guess is they were bored and wanted to shake their tail feathers around a bit. You know. Have a little fun. Scratch at some straw, roll around in some dirt, maybe poop a little. A real party.
But when I got down to the coop I realized the chickens had no food. In their feeder. There was plenty thrown on the ground, but nothing left in their feeder.
That's because chickens are pigs.
My chickens have had this problem from day one. They THROW their food everywhere. They stick their pecky little beaks into the grain and just start flinging and chucking everything out of the feeder.
I used to give them organic grain but for some reason that particular food REALLY threw them into a food throwing frenzy. So I switched back to organic pellet chicken feed hoping it would slow down the daily food fights.
It did not. Exhibit "A".
This is a classic chicken feeder which I love based only and entirely on the look of it.
I even put a pan under their feeder to catch a lot of what they flung. Sometimes they'd eat out of that pan, but once it hit the floor of the coop they wanted nothing to do with their food. So it was a HUGE waste. I was having to go up to the feed store twice as often as I should have.
PLUS - rats. I don't want rats because I simply don't have enough time in my day to devote the hours of therapy I'd need to undergo if I got them. I didn't have any yet but with feed around like this I was likely to attract not only rats, but mice, raccoons, skunks, deer, swans, geese, birds, and possibly lawn bowlers. I don't know that lawn bowlers like chicken feed but I have heard they're a bit odd.
So I made myself a homemade PVC feeder. A girl needs her beauty rest and it wasn't going to happen until this food situation was figured out.
Basically I made a long tube that gets filled with feed. That runs to another small, upward facing tube. The angle and length of the feeding tube prevents the chickens from being able to partake in the food fling.
Wanna do it too? Here's how ...
Making a DIY Chicken Feeder
You can make this no spill feeder in no time at all with supplies from your local hardware store. You don't need to glue it or anything. Just put it together like Lego and within minutes you're done.
3' of 3" PVC pipe
1, "Y" connector
1 end cap
Putting it Together
- Cut a 26" - 27" length of PVC pipe.
- Cut the remaining pipe into a 6" and a 3" length
- Attach the long piece of pipe to one end of the "Y" connector and the 6" length of pipe to the opposite end.
- Attach the 3" piece of pipe to the portion of the "Y" connector that is sticking out at an angle.
- Add the cap to the very bottom of the feeder.
- Fill with feed.
How it Works
Gravity and the weight of the feed allow it to drop to the bottom of the feeder where the chickens peck at it from the opening.
It's big enough for them to feed from but not so big that they can whip their little heads around throwing feed everywhere.
This feeder forces the chickens to be civilized in their table manners.
If you keep your feeder outside you have to cap the top opening and the feeding tube opening so rain doesn't get in. If it does, the feed will go mouldy.
I keep one feeder outside the coop during the day and one inside. At night I bring the outside feeder into the coop to prevent raccoons and other critters from getting into it. One day when I'm at Home Depot, I'll remember to buy 2 extra caps for the outside feeder. I'll just put a cap on the top and one on the mouth of the feeder at night and leave it outside.
The caps will keep both rain and vermin out. Unless that vermin has hands and opposable thumbs. Like a leprechaun. If a leprechaun finds my feeder I'm shit outta luck.
(Second Update: To stop the feed from dropping down to the bottom of the feeder use this little hack I came up with last summer. Just add a mason jar sealer in between the bottom piece and the feeding tube. For years I used a flimsy yogurt container lid because ... well I have no idea why. Because I was stupid I guess.)
Making it Even Better
Remove the bottom 6" piece of pipe from the PVC elbow.
Just take the bottom piece of the tube off (the part that sits on the ground).
Find an old seal from a mason jar.
Put it on the top of tube. A standard (not wide mouth) sealer fits the top of a 3" plastic pipe PERFECTLY.
Now just reassemble the feeder again.
Ready to roll. Or feed the chickens. And squirrels and chipmunks and birds ... and of course leprechauns.
I switched out this DIY feeder a few years ago with a treadle feeder. The chickens step on it and that opens up door to allow the chickens to feed. That means the feed is closed off entirely unless a chicken is stepping on it.
It's worked fantastic but something has figured out how to push itself into the flap, eat all the food and then exit. So I'll be dragging out my original DIY feeder today hoping that whatever figured out how to outsmart the treadle feeder won't figure out the PVC feeder.
At least not for a while. Not until I get some beauty rest.
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Tried the PVC feeder with canning seal to keep it in the top part. Feed molded in the bottom anyway and was difficult to get out. This made birds sick when we went on vacation. I suggest filling the bottom with concrete, making its surface slant to allow the feed to flow towards the opening. Also, our rooster with his average-tall comb could not eat out of it at all. So if you want to make these keep in mind the diameter of the pipe needed for the rooster.
You always brighten my day - lawn bowlers! Love you. IF I lived without HOA, the first thing I would do is run fast to buy some hens. I won't even slow down to raise my own chicks, cute but not eggy enough. I want the Buckauk so badly. Nothing is sweeter music than when they are bragging about there new egg. Sweet memories sitting here in my rocking chair. You really Buckauk, girl!
I thought you had installed an automatic chicken door so they could get out themselves in the morning and you could sleep in.
At the time I made this originally there was no automatic door. :) ~ karen!
I made two chicken feeders. Easy to do. My chickens are acting like they don’t see the food in the pipe. How do you get them to notice?? Of course they are spoiled so maybe ticked off at me for changing feeders??
That's probably it, lol. Try adding a scoop or two of feed into the feeder tube so it's more full. That should get them interested. ~ karen!
I am sick of wasting feed and feeding sparrows so I am very interested in trying your DIY feeder. Curious why you switched to a treadle feeder and if you had any problems with less dominant hens getting a fair share at feeding?
How often do you find yourself refilling this feeder? Curious as I'm just starting out with chicks, but would love to have an idea, as I'm building a few of these today.
This is such a wonderful project! Thanks for sharing, and thanks in advance for any insight!
Hi Moon! I actually am not sure. I pay terrible attention to how often I refill things. Probably once every two weeks ... but ultimately it will depend on how many chickens you have. :) ~ karen!
I loved your article and I especially loved your writing style 😊. I saved it the minute I read it cause it’s GENIUS (sorry for shouting). Me and the fam just moved into our new home away from the city and all it’s crazy everything. We bought 10 chickens and two goats, raised old glory, and planted a crop of freedom Yeeeeeehaw. Just bought the items to make this, but of course I had to change it up a bit as most ADHD peeps like me. Anyhoo, We have never owed farmy animals but here we go… Yeeeeeehaw 😜