DIY chicken water and feeder from 5-gallon buckets

DIY Chicken Water and Feeder From 5-Gallon BucketsNot everyone needs a post on a DIY chicken water and feeder from 5-gallon buckets, but someone out there does need it! Is it you? Even if you don’t have your own hens yet, this might be something to store away in your “someday” file because you just never know when you might need some great info that will save you a dollar or two! Or you might have a friend who is getting into backyard chickens and you could mention this cool site you found *cough cough* and then they could benefit!


We have to start out today’s post with a shout out to Ryobi Tools. After meeting their fun crew at SNAP! (a blogging conference) in April I emailed them and asked for some help on my long, long list of projects I’ve been wanting to get done. They were awesome to work with me and sent me a huge bag of tools of my very own. Husband was totally jealous. The first thing I whipped up was this DIY portable chicken run. These DIY chicken water and feeders are project number two.

I told them that in exchange for the tools, I’d tell you all when I used them and about something pretty cool that they have going on. One things I like about Ryobi is that it’s so much more than a tool company. They have worked really hard to put together a website/community called Ryobi Nation. Ryobi Nation is essentially Pinterest for the DIYer but way more interactive. If you click on this link or on the image below then it will zip you over to Ryobi Nation.

You’ll be able to see some amazing projects that people just like you and me have made and posted about. These people are seriously talented and have some really neat ideas. Pop over and you’ll get some great ideas of things you’ll be wanting to make yourself! Sign up to be a part of the Nation and you can leave comments and vote on projects (winners get sweet prizes). Enjoy a new distraction. :)

Ryobi Nation - boombox1

Now onto the tutorial.

DIY chicken water and feeder from 5-gallon buckets

What you’ll need:

Two 5-gallon buckets with lids (free – they are everywhere! Really… just ask your local sandwich shop to save you a few the pickles come in.)
1-inch standard drill bit or paddle drill bit
Two large foil roasting pans ($2 – pick them up at the Dollar Store)

I found this awesome video by Ric Steel on Youtube on how to make these. I used his ideas and techniques. I highly recommend watching it. He’s a great host and has lots of tips and tricks for using these (like how to keep the water from freezing in the winter).

How to:

For the DIY chicken feeder:
Clean and empty your 5-gallon bucket. Along the bottom edge of the bucket drill 1-inch holes all the way around the bottom, spacing the holes about 2 inches apart. Place the bucket inside the foil roasting pan, right-side-up (holes in the pan), and then fill it with chicken feed. The feed will pour through the holes into the pan and as they eat, more will come out. Replace the lid to the bucket so that the chickens can’t get to the food from the top (and poo in it…). Easy!

For the DIY chicken waterer:
Clean and empty your 5-gallon bucket. Along the bottom edge of the bucket drill two 1-inch holes, holes opposite of each other. Place the bucket inside the foil roasting pan, right-side-up (holes in the pan), and then fill it with chicken water. Quickly replace the lid and make sure that it has an airtight seal. This seal is key!! The water will stop coming out of the holes once the water covers the holes completely if the lid is airtight. The water will keep running out of the bucket and over flow the roasting pan if there isn’t a good seal. It’s a hydrodynamics things… just ask my water engineer husband; he’d gladly explain it to you.

The video that I got the ideas from has two different options for the waterer – one that you fill up with a hose and stays stationary and a little different design that you carry the bucket to the water. I recommend watching and seeing which best fits your needs.

Here’s how all that looks in pictures:

What you need:
DIY Chicken Water and Feeder From 5-Gallon Buckets

Drill some holes:
chicken feeder how to

chicken feed and and buckets

Completed DIY chicken feeder:
chicken feeder from 5 gallon bucket

Completed DIY chicken water with lid (see, it’s not leaking!)
chicken water from 5 gallon bucket

The ladies enjoying their new housewares:
chicken feeder from bucket with top perch

I stuck a board on top of them both so that the chickens could stand on top and poop wouldn’t fall into the pans. The goal with such large food and water supplies was to cut down on chicken maintenance and poo in the water is not maintenance free. I’d rather prevent than clean.

The idea behind using the heavy duty aluminum pans was that they are cheap and easy to find. It really cuts down on the cost. I’ve been using mine for about three weeks now and things are looking great. I’ll keep you updated though on how well the foil roasters hold up.  5-gallon feeder and waters at the feed store cost between $50 and $60 (EACH!), so being able to make your own is a much cheaper option and the hens sure don’t know the difference. It only cost me $2 total to make both the DIY chicken water and feeder and maybe 30 minutes worth of work. You really can’t beat those numbers!

Again, a big thanks to Ryobi for helping me get this done, and don’t forget to check out Ryobi Nation for some killer projects ideas.

Thanks for reading and happy backyard chickens to you :)

(Psst. If you are new you can meet my newest chicks here and check out my backyard chicken history here. Enjoy!)


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44 comments on “DIY chicken water and feeder from 5-gallon buckets

  1. This is awesome and totally timely for me since my flock went from 9 to 23 and those gals are drinking more than my waterer will hold! You can buy steel feed pans @ Murdoch’s for $6. I’m going to make the waterer this weekend. Thanks!

    1. Erin-

      So glad you found me (and left your blog too so I can check you out!!) just so you know… I ended up buying big metal pans to replace the turkey roasters after about 6 weeks. The pans were $6 each at the farm supply store (near the buckets) so my price is now at $12 for the two. Still great but not as cheap as $2. I need to update that on the post! Thanks for stopping by. M.

      1. yes that is right. when the chickens get older they drink more and the metal pan holds up better. Could you drill less holes? The bucket is hard to turn over for my daughter. Do you have any other ideas >

  2. I love your baby blue eggs! Reminds me of grandma’s. .. You are awesome at what you do Melissa, keep it up! I love reading what cool things you are up to!

  3. I just have a quick question… How do you refill the waterer without losing the proper seal? As I am picturing it in my head… The water would go all over, and I wasn’t sure if I was misunderstanding the design? My husband attempted to make one of them for me using an old milk can, but we couldn’t get the seal correct so we scrapped it for ice cream pails until I came up with another option.

    These look really good! I plan to make them up as soon as I convince my hubby to come out from his nice warm blankets! LOL

    Have a good day & congratulations on the new baby!

    1. You can hammer the lid back on or I just stick the end of the hose in the hole that I drilled (with the bucket upside down), fill it up and then flip it over into the water container when I get it to the coop. Does that make sense? It is SO nice to have a full 5 gallons of water for the hens and I think you’ll love it!

      1. Can you drill a hole in bottom for filling, or I wonder about drilling hole around top so you still have use of the handle, would I still need lid if open end is in pan. And how hard would it be to flip over without getting wet.

        1. We just stick the hose in the holes at the bottom and then flip it over… not super easy but we can do it fine. If you drip holes in the top though it won’t make the suction that it needs to hold the water in the pan. Those crazy hydrodynamics!

    1. I ended up just keeping a board with a big flat-bottomed rock on top of both the food and the water. It really helps to keep the food and water clean and the hens like to perch on the rock :)

    2. You can also modify the board with a couple of magnets (I use the ones I salvage out of old computer hard drives and a piece of steel (like a bean can cut open and laid out flat. The magnets hold the board on to the top of the bucket, but can be easily removed to clean the board and refill the bucket. E-Z-CHEEZ-E

  4. Instead of foil containers which the chickens can peck holes in I just used very large glass roasting dishes, they’re way too thick and heavy for chickens to break, are relatively cheap to buy second hand, and best of all can be bleached/disinfected without any worries about tainting for future use. And if you have chicks, you only need put a small amt in the bottom (water) and the chicks and drink (with mum) with no worries about them being tipped over or chicks drowning.

  5. I cannot get the food to pour out of my holes. I ended up drilling a extra holes but it still isn’t working. Do they need to just be bigger holes, you think

  6. Maybe you already covered this option and I missed it, but for the waterer, if you drill the holes at the top, you can carry the water and turn it upside down to create the waterer……….

  7. Can those waterers be made warm in winter by the addition of a bird bath heater with the cord sticking out the lid or would that cause all of the water to leak out?

    1. The water would leak. You can stick the bottom pan on bricks (use 4, one on each corner) and place a 45 watt bulb underneath it. The heat from the bulb will keep it from freezing!

  8. HELP, everytime I make one of these bucket waterers it does not stop filling ip the pan, it just runs over until the bucket is empty dow. to the hole.
    What am I doin wrong?

    1. If that is happening then the lid isn’t airtight and it’s not making a vacuum seal so the water will all leak out. I’d try a different bucket or a little caulk around the top before you pound the lid on! Good luck Caryn because once you get it to work you will LOVE IT!

      1. Mine will stop flowing when I get the lid on but its hard to fill it up and get the lid on before the water is over flowing the tub. I can’t carry five gallons of water and neither can my kids. Suggestions?

        1. We just keep the lid on and stick a hose in the hole to fill them up (while they are sitting upside down). I normally back them to and from the water with a wagon! Then all I have to do is flip them over into the pan.