Our 5-Gallon Bucket Chicken Feeder – Super Easy DIY and Vermin Proof!

Introducing our 5-gallon bucket chicken feeder! 

I first saw this idea for a vermin-proof chicken feeder on a local gardening show, and then my favorite permaculture farm made one as well. At the time, I was skeptical.

I mean, chickens aren’t particularly smart… Could they figure out how to get the food out?

Turns out – yep! They’re more clever than they look.

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In fact, it took them all of 1 minute to get the full hang of it!

How to Make a Chicken Feeder From a 5-Gallon Bucket

I’ve created a little video to show you how well it works. It’s always better to show than tell, right? You’ll find it below.

After the video, I’ll add a heap of photos showing you the exact steps we took to make ours – you’ll even catch a glimpse of my notoriously camera-shy husband!

Step 1: Get a Bucket

Not surprisingly, you will need a bucket for this how-to. It doesn’t need to be a 5-gallon bucket; you could make a smaller (or bigger, I suppose!) chicken feeder, too.

Since your girls will be eating their food out of this bucket, I recommend you find a food-safe one. Nothing yucky or toxic!

Every plastic bucket is stamped with a recycling number (usually on the bottom). You’re looking for preferably a “2”, but “1”, “4”, and “5” are fine too.

Amazon has some mighty-fine food-safe 5-gallon buckets if you’re in the market, or check out your local bakery or ice creamery for free ones!

Step 2: Drill a Hole

There he is!!!
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Step 3: Insert the Eye Bolt

Now, my husband is a diesel fitter and he works with very large machinery. He doesn’t do things by halves so our toggle setup will last for the rest of our lives.

It’ll never come off, nor move, nor get stuck (because no bolt is put together without anti-seize). And washers. A bear could use it and it wouldn’t come apart.

Even the toggle had to be hardwood!

Like our outdoor dining table. It weighs a ton (literally) and can only be moved with the excavator and even then it’s a bit hairy. But it will last for the rest of our lives. And our kids’ lives. And their kids’. And so on.

You don’t have to prepare for such a situation if you don’t want to or you’re not feeding bears or you’re not planning on the feeder bucket becoming an antique.

A simple eye bolt with a screwed-on piece of wood would do the trick just fine if you ask me (don’t ask my husband if you don’t want extra work).

Now, insert the eye bolt!

That’s inside the bucket
And that’s outside of the bucket

Step 4: Attach the Toggle Block

See how there’s enough space around the eye bolt for food pellets to fall through? That’s what you’re aiming for.

Play around a bit with the best hole size for the eye bolt you’re using, and the size of your food pellets.

For us, it didn’t work very well with grain but I usually feed pellets, so that’s what we made it for.

The pellets stay in the bucket, they don’t just fall out. When the chickens peck the toggle, a bit of food drops out for them to scoop up.

The girls all think it’s pretty exciting – who can get to the little dropped piece the quickest?

Step 5: Test

It appears it would work fine as a dog feeder too…

Step 6: Fill and Hang in the Coop

Final Famous Words

I adore our 5-gallon bucket chicken feeder. It’s saved so much money over the past few months!

We no longer feed half the rat population in the area, food doesn’t get wet (moldy, ewh!), and it keeps the chickens (and me, I admit) entertained.

The only thing I struggle with is the lid. It can be darned hard to get on and off to fill it. Even though I only need to fill it every 2 weeks or so, that lid is tough.

My mother-in-law has a bucket lid tool I might try – but for the moment, I’m just not shutting the lid completely. Our feeder is under a roof so there’s very little chance of the food getting wet.

It also hangs from the roof and I’m just assuming no rat could hang from the ceiling like Super Rat and somehow glide down the chain to get into the bucket.

Super Rat might surprise me one day, but for now, this DIY 5-gallon bucket chicken feeder is perfect for me.

What do you think?

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