DIY Chicken Waterer and Feeder from 5-gallon Buckets

Not everyone needs a post on a DIY chicken waterer 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!

Now onto the tutorial.

DIY Chicken Waterer and Feeder From 5-Gallon Buckets

DIY chicken waterer 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 that the pickles come in).
  • Drill
  • 1-inch standard drill bit or paddle drill bit
  • Two large foil roasting pans ($2 – pick them up at the Dollar Store) OR these large feed pans 

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 thing….just ask my water engineer husband; he’d gladly explain it to you.

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. Five-gallon feeders and waterers 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 waterer and feeder and maybe 30 minutes worth of work. You really can’t beat those numbers!

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!)

UPDATE OCTOBER 2017: I’ve now been using these same buckets as a DIY chicken waterer and feeder for over 4 years. I have upgraded from the tin foil turkey roaster pans though. Those pans lasted about 6 weeks but I was in it for the long haul. I picked up some large (about 16 inches wide and 4 inches deep) round metal pans from our hardware store to replace the pans in these pictures. Here are similar pans on Amazon. They cost me less than $10 each and have lasted 4 years. So for $20 total, instead of $2, I have a large feeder and waterer that I’ve been using for years. They work great and I still highly recommend making these.

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About Melissa

I have a lot going on, and I’d much rather spend my time enjoying my messes than fretting about what I’m going to make for dinner. Over the past few years, I’ve nailed down a few strategies that helped me keep my kitchen running like a well-oiled machine, so I started Bless This Mess to help other mess-loving parents solve the nightly dinner delimma—no stress, no drama, just really great food your whole family will love. Read more...

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How do you fill them fast enough??? The water runs out so fast when trying to fill because you can’t fill with airtight.

I hate the problem with the water feeder is you literally have to have the bucket full of water upside down and then flip it over completely full with the lid on sealed in order for this to work it did not work the way that you described it

Really? I clean mine fill the pan with water sit the bucket in it fill it quickly with water and put the lid on!! Of course turning it upside down would not work…duh

Drill some holes under the lid easier to carry and fill

Thanks,it’s a great idea I’ll try it out. The pyiscs behind is that the partial vacuum prevents water from following , when the hole are above the water level air gets in, permitting some more water to follow our .
Since am a Christian please permit me also to tell you guys that Jesus saves
Thanks much Melissa

So which is better for a waterer? Drill holes at the bottom of bucket or at the top below the lid?

I would seem to think the bottom for 2 reasons. 1) filling it would be way easier 2) you can hang it . Just my thinking.

I did one with the holes at the top just above the lip on the bucket. I fill it up put the lid on it and then flip it over into their drinking tub.

Hmm – Drill the water holes a half inch below the lid closure edge, fill the bucket, seal it and gently turn it over into the bucket. Going out to try my modification!

This sounds genius…..I’m on my way to try it too thanks for this idea!

This is great. I have a new house that came with chickens and rabbits and mini pigs. I am going to make this for my animals so the pigs will not eat there food.

Great ideas! For the water, how do you fill the bucket without it running over the sides since the water only stops when the lid is on

I drilled my holes on the opposite end (about an inch or two) to prevent water spilling out when I filled it. Make sure you dont drill the holes too high because they should be submerged under the water in the pan. Worked great for me 🙂

Do you mind if I ask how long each fill lasts? I know that would depend largely on the number of chickens you have, but that would be helpful to know. Great job – thanks for sharing your expertise!!!

This is a GREAT idea!!! This will help me get to my goal faster as I am on a tight budget and kept crying each time I saw the cost of a waterer and feeder!!!
I live in Arco Idaho… I am concerned with this freezing and making a terrible mess with the bucket busting???
Curious if you know how the chicken nipples would work in a similar set up but hanging up instead of on the floor??? Maybe making two buckets so I can rotate them during freezing temps???

I have just enough experience to get myself into trouble!!! and second guess myself way more than I should>>>

Thank you for this great idea!!!

Excellent info. I like it.


Great info,I set mine on a cinder block so they don’t scratch bedding into it

I used your idea but modified it by replacing the foil pan with one of those plastic pans that go with planters. I bolted it with 3/8 bolt and washers (rubber) to prevent leaks and now the buckets hang with the base attached. No water has leaked yet. Fingers crossed.

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.