Building chicken feeder canes from PVC is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save time on chores around the homestead.
When I first got my chickens, it seemed like the beginning of a dream coming to fruition. I was finally beginning to farm. What I quickly discovered however, is that on a farm, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. Gardens need weeding, fences need mending, and animals need feeding.
Saving Time is Critical
I figured out pretty quickly that efficiency is crucial to successful farming. Everything I’d read in Joel Salatin’s You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise seemed to agree. He preaches the importance of deliberate, efficient action with every movement that you make on a farm. It’s the only way to make it work without burning yourself out with consistent 12-hour days.
And so, I needed to figure out some way to decrease the amount of time I spent on my morning chores. One of the best ways I figured that I could do this would be to eliminate the amount of time I spend per week feeding chickens. I began a bit of research on the subject, and concluded that I needed to build some chicken feeder canes out of PVC.
What is a Chicken Feeder Cane?
A chicken feeder cane is nothing more than a PVC pipe in the shape of a cane, but that simple “cane” has saved me countless hours of work over the years. Instead of having to feed the chickens every day, I now just fill the PVC tubes every three days!
Aside from the work that it’s saved me, it’s also allowed my wife and I to make overnight trips once again without having to worry about the chickens being fed. This project is a heck of a lot of bang for your buck!
We’re going to assume that you have around 10 chickens for this project. From most of the people I’ve met who raise chickens, that’s a pretty average number. To regularly feed 10 chickens in a way that allows them to all eat at roughly the same time with minimal fighting, I made three chicken feeding canes. Total project cost was somewhere around $30.
How to Make PVC Chicken Feeder Canes
Your supply list for this project is easy and inexpensive. You will need:
- PVC pipe cement
- PVC pipe
- 3 – PVC 90 degree elbow joints that are double sided female ends
- 3 – PVC 45 degree elbow joints that are male on one side
The diameter of the pipe and fittings doesn’t really matter too much. Just pick a size that you think will work right for you. I used 4” diameter pipe for this project, as I thought it would allow me to store a reasonable amount of food in each pipe. I also feel that this size minimizes the risk of food getting stuck in the middle of the tube.
Step 1 – Cut the Pipe
I used a hacksaw to cut off a piece of pipe 3’ long. The longer you make this pipe, the less often you’ll have to refill it. Just keep in mind that if you make it obnoxiously long, you’re going to regularly be lifting scoops full of feed above your head, pouring it down your shirt in the process.
Step 2 – Glue the Elbows
The next step is to glue the first elbow joint to the pipe. Put the purple PVC primer on the outside of the pipe (where it’s going to attach), and on the inside of the elbow joint of one of the double female end joints. Then put the gloppy PVC glue on the outside of the pipe and on the inside of the elbow joint. The purple primer activates the glue, forming a hard bond after only a few seconds. Insert the pipe into the elbow joint, twisting as you do so, and then hold the pieces together tight for 30-60 seconds.
Once the glue has dried, repeat the process for the male elbow joint – attaching it to the female elbow joint to form a candy cane shape.
You’ve now completed your one! Repeat the whole process two more times to get the three canes need for your chickens.
Step 3 – Attach Them in Your Coop
Once this is accomplished, the next step is to actually install them within your chicken coop. Chickens are pretty tenacious when it comes to food. If they know it’s around, they’ll find a way to get to it. So you don’t have to worry about the exact height that you install the cane off of the ground, just do so that the bottom opening is somewhere around “chicken height.”
The only caveat I would give is to make sure that the cane isn’t resting directly on the ground. Chickens will throw a lot of dirt into the feed tubes as they scratch around on the ground for spilled bits of feed over time if you do this. Not a huge deal, but it’s less work for you if you raise the height a little bit so that as little dirt gets in there as possible. If dirt does get in there, I just brush it out with a gloved finger.
The way I installed my candy cane feeders was with a single screw and washer about an inch below the top opening (the corner pipe got two screws). I drilled straight into the 2×4 brace of my coop, and each of those single screws has been holding my feed tubes steady ever since. I’ve never had a problem with the feed tubes breaking off.
Filling and Maintaining Your Canes
And voila! Now you’ve done it! You’ve successfully installed your chicken feed candy canes! I’ve seen several other people who put minerals in one tube, feed in another, and some other type of food in the third, but I just put regular pellets in all three. Mash will go in each of them fine as well, and you won’t really have a problem with it getting stuck or anything like that.
If you ever have food caught up at some point in the feed tube, just shake the thing a little bit and it all comes on down to the bottom. Food is the only thing that will actually hold in these things as well. You can’t use them for water. The water will just shoot out the end like a little water slide if you try (not one of my smarter moments).
PVC Chicken Feeder Canes Summary
Chickens aren’t really a lot of work to begin with, but you can decrease your daily workload with this simple project. Have you tried this project before and found success? Are there other work-saving projects that you’ve discovered on your homesteading journey? Let us know in the comments below!