Rodent-proof Chicken Feeder

Here in peri urban Hobart we have to stay on top of managing rodents and birds getting into our chicken’s feed. Over the years we’ve tried lots of different designs and none of them have worked as well as we needed.

Enter this beauty. While trawling the world wide web I stumbled across this design on youtube for an automatic feeder. People – it actually really works and does everything it promises to do. It’s bird proof, weather proof and rodent proof –  basically all our chicken feeding dreams coming true at once.

The basic premise is that the bucket is full of grain. A hole has been drilled into the bottom and a “ toggle” (aka an eye bolt with a chunk of wood attached) is installed which the chooks peck to access the grain – only a few grains at a time. This means they peck once, then quickly eat all the grain off the ground before doing another peck to get more grain – ensuring no excess grain is left out on the ground for rodents and birds.

One chook pecking the toggle which releases a small amount of grain. The other chooks have their heads down, eating off the ground. 

This is an automatic feeder which means you don’t have to tend them everyday (as long as they have access to fresh water). This means you can go away for the weekend or just improve efficiency in your garden tasks.

Oh, and it’s dead easy to make – here’s how…

Ingredients

  • One bucket with a handle and lid. I recommend either a 20 litre or 10 litre bucket so it can hold a decent amount of grain.
  • One eye bolt – we’ve used a 5mm one.
  • A chunk of wood.

Method

  • Using a 16mm drill bit – drill a hole into the bottom of the bucket. This size of the hole will vary depending on what type of grain you have. We have mixed grain with chunky sunflowers included – so our holes quite generous. If you’re not sure, start with a small hole and gradually make it bigger until you hit the sweet spot.
  • Drill a 5mm holes into the chunk of wood.
  • Poke the eye bolt through, with the eye on the inside of the bucket.
  • Screw the eye bolt into the chunk of wood – which I call “the toggle”.

Our mixed grain has different sizes in there so we’ve made our hole quite big to make sure they can all get through. 

Edit: We’ve since switched to feeding them chicken pellets (crushed up grain) as the chooks eventually worked out how to “mine” the grain mix to only eat their favourite bits and leave the rest on the ground for the birds. The pellets have been working for us really well as they’re all the same size and look. 

The 16mm holes in the bottom of the bucket

The toggle (chunk of wood) with a 5mm hole drilled into it and the 6mm eye bolt. 

Poke the eye bolt through the hole with the eye on the inside of the bucket. 

Screw the toggle onto the other end of the eye bolt so it hangs as seen above. 

That’s it! Only three bits of materials to make the chook feeder of your dreams.

That’s it. Told you it was easy. Next up you can hang it in your chook run. Make sure you hang it from a chain or a steel rod so rodents can’t crawl along it to access the bucket.

Special thanks to Anton for making me a gorgeous spiral rod using the campfire as his forge. 

The other hot tip is to make sure it’s not too close to the ground that rodents could jump up to hit the toggle to release the grain.

And don’t worry about the chooks working it out. They’re very clever when it comes to food, and will have orientated themselves to it within one day.

This has been a game changer for us. The flocks of sparrows (small birds) are no more and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic the rodents that live in our neighbouring bushland wont find this one.

The feeding station, nestled between our worm farm (on the right-  an old bath in a timber frame) and the branch prunings from our goats which will be turned into woodchips or biochar. 

30 Responses to “Rodent-proof Chicken Feeder”

  1. Sarah

    We have so many sparrows and rats getting a free meal at our place. I hope this sorts them out. Thanks

    Reply
  2. Thomas

    I did this, using a teaspoon as the lever (a Kat Lavers’ design). It didn’t work well with mixed grain, as the chooks pecks up the grains they preferred, leaving the boring grain on the ground whilst they toggled more of the good stuff out.

    Reply
  3. Al

    Uh, how is this rodent proof or bird proof? The chickens are dumping the feed on the ground and wild birds quickly learn to fly into the trigger to drop feed, not that they need to, the chickens leave plenty laying on the ground. Spend the money for a proper rat proof and wild bird proof treadle feeder. It needs to have a spring loaded door, a heavy counterweight system, and a narrow and distant treadle for it to work. The ones without these things don’t have anyway to prevent rats and wild birds from just pushing the doors or lids open. http://ratproofchickenfeeder.net/

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Hi Al, Once the birds peck the “dongle” only some grain/pellets come out, they then proceed to peck the food off the ground before going back before more. We’ve tried a few automatic feeders like the ones you make and sell, but have had no luck with large birds and rats (and once possums) learning how to use them. This design’s been a big game changer for us and we no longer have swarms of birds hanging out or the neighbour’s rats.

      Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Great question. We ended up switching to pellets (crushed grain) as the chook’s were only eating their favourite grain and leaving the rest on the ground for birds. This doesn’t happen when you use one type of “thing”. Choose the grain/pellet size that suits how big you’ve made the hole at the bottom of the feeder – might take some experimenting!

      Reply
      • Jill Garrett

        That is helpful feedback. Can’t wait to try! I’ll let you know our results!

        Reply
  4. HJ

    I have been looking for a rat/mouse proof feeder for quite some time, and I was delighted when I found this in YouTube.

    Unfortunately it didn’t work with mixed grains. Chickens quickly worked out how to get their favourite grains – keep pecking the toggle!
    ” …they only eating their favourite grain and leaving the rest on the ground” and back to pecking the toggle.

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Ah yes, we had this too and had to switch to chicken pellets which are all the same size and look. Now it works really well! I’ve also just edited this blog to share this info above :-). Cheers.

      Reply
  5. Lynn

    Great! I’m so excited with this feeder and it’s easy enough for me to make. Thank you so much for the great ideas.

    Reply
  6. Dina

    Thanks for this Hannah, we’ve had really bad problems with sparrows in the chook run. We made the new feeder yesterday and the chooks seemed to work it out straight away, smart little birdies. Love your work 😊

    Reply
  7. Elyse Tierney

    Thanks for sharing this idea, looks great! We’ve just moved and acquired chickens but have been having trouble keeping possums out of the chicken run. We’re working to improve the floppy fence and electrify if needed as they’re eating the chicken feed which we were leaving out overnight. Have you ever had trouble with possums accessing and working out how to use this feeder? Would love to find a possum proof feeder, my uncle who lives nearby said they’ve worked out how to use a treadle feeder at his place – they seem pretty persistent here in Northern Tasmania.

    Reply
  8. Helen of the North West

    Great idea…will have a crack at it…we looked at a treadle feeder yesterday at a local produce store …it was $175 …not happening on our single income family…this feeder you’ve created will help encourage sustainability and reduce repetitive chook feeding tasks, so I can spoil them with more interesting/creative feed options every now and then whilst the everyday feed chore is done eg stringing together spinach etc…

    Reply
  9. Renae

    Has anyone got any tips for teaching the chickens how to use the feeder? After a week of demonstrations they are still clueless! I’ve been hand feeding them (which is what they’re used to) at the feeder so they associate it with food. I’ve even been tapping the toggle in front of them. They eat the fallen grain but still seem to have no idea that they’re supposed to peck it!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS