Your chickens have to eat – but sometimes mealtime in the coop can be a struggle. Even the best open feeder designs tend to waste a lot of feed as chickens seem to believe that food is for playing with as well as eating. And, if you’re anything like most small farm owners and homesteaders, it’s a little painful to watch so much feed – and so much money – go to waste.
To solve the problem, most people head to the local farm supply store and find a feeder that’s not terribly expensive and looks like it’ll do the trick. Others put a little more effort into it and try to find a design that they can build with cheap supplies – like a PVC chicken feeder.
Unfortunately, many PVC chicken feeders quickly malfunction, and all of a sudden, you’re back to watching your chickens walk through their feed, kick it out into the dirt, and bury it. Here are some of the most common problems that you should look out for when purchasing a PVC chicken feeder or creating your own.
Common PVC Chicken Feeder Problems (The Short Answer)
Many chicken owners use PVC to create chicken feeders as it’s cheap and easy to work with. However, many vertical PVC feeder designs leak in the rain, causing clumpy feed, flow issues, and rusting parts. These problems might resolve with a few minor adjustments to your chicken feeder design, or you might need to change the design completely.
3 Problems With PVC Chicken Feeders (+ How to Overcome Them)
I’ve compiled the most common issues with PVC chicken feeders, along with my favorite tips for fixing them.
Wet Weather Leakage
PVC isn’t waterproof or airproof at the joints. As a result, whether it’s fog, drizzle, or rain, wetness will get into the works which in turn causes other issues, like clumping food that’s more likely to get stuck.
Obviously, don’t leave a PVC chicken feeder out in the rain as the chances of water leaking into the system are high. Try to find or build a PVC chicken feeder that’s waterproof. It doesn’t need to be entirely airtight, but if water drips onto the feeder, it shouldn’t get into the feed.
You can also try to protect the feed from rain and other sources of moisture by moving it inside your chicken enclosure. You might also be able to seal the connectors using a sealant to prevent water from getting in there.
Feed Flow Issues
Many PVC feeders work fine for a few days, and then, for whatever reason, clog up. Water getting into the feed can be a big issue as that causes clumping that gets stuck easily. Some types of feed may flow better than others, so keep that in mind as well. Ultimately, though, flow issues are typically caused by design. Find a PVC chicken feeder that is created for great feed flow.
A vertical-style feeder is a common PVC pipe feeder design. These feeders use gravity to move the feed down to an area where the chickens can access it. They usually have a horizontal end that is open or includes a number of holes for the chickens to eat from. If you’re struggling with flow issues in one of these feeders, try shortening the horizontal section of the pipe to minimize clogging.
Not all PVC chicken feeders are made entirely of PVC pipes. Some contain screws and other parts that may rust if they get wet. While rust in itself isn’t harmful to chickens or humans, rusting parts on your chicken feeder can cause problems. It’s also a good indication that moisture is affecting your chicken feeder.
Find a PVC chicken feeder design that does not require screws or any other parts that may rust, or use rust-resistant parts.
Alternatives to PVC Chicken Feeders
PVC chicken feeders often bring many issues, but with the right design, they can actually be quite effective. Depending on the issues you’ve found, try changing parts of your design.
If a vertical feeder just isn’t cutting it, you might want to change your design entirely. I typically use a horizontal design that works quite well. Simply cut a large pipe in half the long way and use it as a trough. That way, there’s plenty of room for all your chickens to access the feed, but they won’t be able to climb into the feeder and kick it out into the dirt.
You can also cut holes in a large pipe big enough for chickens to fit their heads in. These designs are a little more difficult to fill, but they’re more effective at preventing chickens from wasting feed.
Of course, there are many more feeder designs out there. PVC pipe feeders are cheap, easy to make, and often quite effective with the right design. However, whether you want to purchase a feeder or make one, you’ll have no shortage of options.