DIY Chicken Waterer and Feeder from 5-gallon Buckets

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Spring is in the air, so it’s time to start preparing for backyard chickens! I will tell you everything you have ever wanted to know about Chicken Waterers and feeders and how to DIY your own from a 5-gallon bucket. 

DIY Chicken Waterer and Feeder From 5-Gallon Buckets.
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Providing animals with water to drink seems like a no-brainer, but there are many factors that go into watering chickens. For instance, how much water do chickens need, what type/material of waterer is best, how to keep the water clean, and how to DIY a simple and cost-efficient chicken waterer.

Appropriate access to clean water drastically influences how healthy a chicken is and how well it produces. If a chicken does not have ample water, they will stop laying eggs! Water also aids in the digestive process and helps a chicken eliminate waste. 

When sufficiently hydrated, chickens can more effectively regulate their body temperature. A chicken that drinks clean, cool water also has a healthy brain. This will keep the animal in tip-top shape and its mind sharper to watch for predators.

And if they’re well-hydrated, they’ll keep laying those beautiful eggs for delicious meals like an egg and potato casserole, perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  

farm and garden life with chicks.

How Much Water Chickens Drink Per Day

It doesn’t seem like chickens drink much water because they just take small sips throughout the day. However, on average, a single chicken will drink about 1 pint of water daily. They will drink more if the temperature is hot.

Cool and Fresh Water, Please!

They also like cool, fresh water. If the water has been sitting out in the sun too long, hasn’t been refreshed regularly, or starts to get dirty from the chicken’s own doing, they may stop drinking. You don’t want a chicken that isn’t drinking, so remedy the issue quickly. 

The process of chickens drinking water is fun to watch. Chickens use their tongue to push food to the back of their mouth to be swallowed, but that method doesn’t work for drinking.

If a chicken wants to drink water you will see them dip their beak into the water and rapidly tilt their head back to let the water drip down their throat. So you can imagine they can’t drink a whole bunch of water at once.

several different colored chickens pecking dirt.

Tips for Keeping Chicken Water Fresh and Clean

Keeping the water you feed your chickens clean is essential.

  • You should refresh their water daily to prevent bacteria buildup and algae forming.
  • Sanitize the waterer at least weekly. Clean it with dish soap, a brush, or a diluted bleach solution.  
  • Place the water containers in shaded areas to prevent overheating and algae growth.
  • Elevate the water containers off the ground to prevent dirt and droppings from getting into the water.
colorful eggs in cartons.

Project FAQs

Do chickens need water in their coop at night?

Chickens typically do not need water at night. They sleep on their roosts until morning. 

Where should I place my waterers?

You want to place your waterers without direct sunlight to keep the water as cool as possible. 

How many waterers do I need for my chickens?

I plan for one large waterer per 6-8 chickens. Remember that each chicken will drink about 1 pint daily, so plan accordingly. 

Can chickens drink tap water?

The general rule is that if it is safe enough for you to drink, your chickens can also drink it. 

What happens if chickens run out of water?

You will want to remedy the situation quickly if a chicken is dehydrated. When a chicken isn’t getting enough water, its egg-laying will slow down or stop completely. It will become lethargic, and you may notice it panting or having a pale comb. 

small red-headed boy holding a black and white chicken sitting on a porch.

DIY Chicken Waterer and Feeder From 5-Gallon Buckets

Chicken waterers can come in various shapes, sizes, and dollar amounts and can be constructed from various materials. In my experience, you don’t need to break the bank to provide water for chickens. Your chickens will thrive if they have clean, fresh water and lots of it.

We have used this DIY version for chicken waterers for years and have found great success. 

Materials Needed for Chicken Feeder and Waterer

  • Two 5-gallon buckets with lids
  • Drill
  • 1-inch standard drill bit or paddle drill bit
  • Two large foil roasting pans

Where to Get Materials

Buckets: Find a free source for the buckets. They are everywhere, really! Just ask your local sandwich shop to save you a few that the pickles come in. Bakeries are also a good source for free buckets.

Pans: Pick them up at the dollar store for a few bucks, or get these large feed pans.

How to Make the DIY Chicken Feeder

  1. Clean and empty a bucket
  2. Drill 1-inch holes around the bottom edge, spacing the holes about 2 inches apart.
  3. Place the bucket inside the 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 the chicken eats, more will come out.
  4. Replace the lid to the bucket so the chickens can’t get to the food from the top. Easy!

How to Make the DIY Chicken Waterer

  1. Clean and empty the 5-gallon bucket.
  2. Along the bottom edge of the bucket, drill two 1-inch holes opposite of each other.
  3. Place the bucket inside the pan, right-side-up (holes in the pan), and then fill it with water.
  4. 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.

If there isn’t a good seal, the water will keep running out of the bucket and overflow the pan. It’s a hydrodynamics thing—just ask my water engineer husband; he’d gladly explain it to you!

How to Make a DIY Chicken Feeder and Waterer – Picture Tutorial

DIY Chicken Water and Feeder From 5-Gallon Buckets.
Materials needed
chicken feeder how to.
Drill some holes
white buckets for chicken feeder and waterer.
Space the holes about 2 inches apart
chicken feeder from 5 gallon bucket.
Place the bucket in the pan and fill with feed. You have a completed DIY chicken feeder!
chicken water from 5 gallon bucket.
Repeat for the waterer, except only drill 2 holes on opposite sides of the bucket.
chicken feeder from bucket with top perch.
Completed DIY chicken water with lid (see, it’s not leaking!)

Sometimes life on the farm can be much simpler than we think, and this DIY chicken waterer and feeder from 5-gallon buckets is the perfect example. An easy and cheap way to provide an effective and reliable feed and watering system for your chickens.

If you’ve been bitten by the DIY spirit, you might try your hand at building a chicken coop for the little egg factory in your backyard. I believe happy chickens make more eggs!

Update: October 2017

I have been using these same buckets as a DIY chicken waterer and feeder for over 4 years, though I have upgraded from the foil turkey roaster pans. 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. Similar pans are available 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 used for years. They work great and I still highly recommend making these.

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  1. Julie says:

    We have pushed and pushed on the lid and it still keeps leaking. The hole is definitely under the edge of the pan. Anyone tried sealing the inside with Vaseline to create a barrier?

  2. Charlotte says:

    Thank you so much for this. We are planning a road trip and need something to keep the chickens fed and watered that wont break the bank.. you are a God send..

  3. Mary Martel says:

    So I just did this for my chickens, but how can I fill the bucket up all the way when the lid needs to be sealed to create the vacuum?

    1. Melissa says:

      I take it out and fill it through the bottom holes then flip it back into the pan.

  4. Caleb says:

    How do you actually fill the water bucket? Seems impossible…. Easy to make, impossible to fill.

    1. Melissa says:

      We take it out, flip it over and fill it through the holes we cut and then flip it back into the pan. Not ideal for everyone.

  5. Sharon says:

    Thanks so much!! I definitely did need a post on diy chicken feeders!! Greatly appreciated😀

  6. Sandy says:

    I made the water bucket and pan just as the directions, the water over flows until it gets down to the top of the hole??

    1. Melissa says:

      Either the holes are higher than the pan you are having the water go into or your bucket isn’t airtight, those are the two reasons the water over flows.

  7. sajeel says:

    thankyou it was so helpfull

  8. Marie says:

    This is fantastic and easy to do. I’m going to use it for my tortoise. I live in UK and there is a row of oak trees that drop leaves which fill the water trays. This method should reduce the chances of leaves filling the water. We also have hedgehogs that wander into the garden fo water in hot weather, so they will use this too.

  9. Joy says:

    I use the ice cream tubs from ice cream stands and Tupperware trays from thrift stores. Easy and cheap. Just incase you don’t have 5 gallon pails.