Commercial deer feeders are excellent tools to have on your property to ensure that wildlife are getting nutritious food to support a healthy environment. And unfortunately, commercial feeders are not always the most affordable way to support your wildlife population.

Building a deer or wildlife feeder from easy-to-obtain materials is a simple DIY project,, and here are a couple of designs that are popular. Furthermore, many of the most useful DIY deer feeders can be made from common materials you may already have on hand.

Types of Deer Feeders

There are two basic designs that cover almost all types of deer feeders out there. These are commonly known as either gravity feeders or trough feeders.

Both designs are meant to offer deer and other wildlife a constant supply of food they can feed on day or night. And deer feeders can helps attract healthy populations of wildlife and provides a good supply of healthy grains or pellets.

Gravity Feed Designs

All gravity feeds depend on gravity to allow grains to trickle down to a tray at the bottom. There are several styles of gravity feeders that are easy to make. Most are simple designs that don’t require many special tools or advanced skills.

A simple and effective DIY deer feeder can be made from four-inch PVC pipe. The design calls for a standing section roughly three to four feet with a pipe cap on the top. The bottom of the stand pipe has a four-inch Wye pipe with the entering pipe fitting facing upward. A cap is fitted to the bottom of the Wye pipe and often includes a fabricated drain to prevent moisture accumulation. This design is filled from the top and gravity pushes the feed down, but only to the level of the Wye pipe.

Another approach to gravity-fed deer feeders is the five-gallon method. There are several designs out there that are effective. The principle is to fit a length of all-thread through a hole in the bottom of the bucket and support it on a bridge placed inside the bucket. A washer and a series of jamb nuts are set just below the opening in the bottom of the bucket and close enough so that corn can easily fall out when the rod is moved. A large soup can attaches to the bottom of the all-thread. This makes it easy for deer to nudge the can and release food and the sound of the corn hitting the can will encourage deer to visit the feeder.

A larger version of a gravity feeder can be made from a 55-gallon plastic water barrel that has the lid attached. This design is for people who have larger properties or who are not able to go out and add feed very often. It starts with constructing a stable wooden platform so the barrel can sit off the ground. The platform will need to be tall enough so that deer will be able to feed from the bottom of the barrel as it sits on the platform.

DIY Gravity Feeder Instructions:

1. Drill two-inch holes in the sides of the barrel as near the bottom as possible.

2. Then use a two-inch flange pipe or a 45-degree PVC fitting glued securely into the opening. The flange pipe allows the fitting to be screwed and epoxied in place for additional strength. Drywall mud trays or another suitably sized container are used to catch the grain.

3. Cut a two-inch hole in the tray and epoxy it to the flange pipe of PVC connector. Use a couple screws to make sure the tray is fastened to the barrel.

4, Filling this design is done with a large funnel after removing the caps from the lid of the barrel. It will hold around 300 lbs of feed safely as long as the base is well-built and sturdy.

Trough Designs

Trough feeders are more attractive but also require a little more craftsmanship to build. An easy way to make a trough feeder simple and effective is to recycle other materials. A well-built trough-type feeder allows several deer to feed at once and provides plenty of feed to reduce maintenance.

A simple DIY trough feeder can be made from a plastic drum cut in half long-ways. The ends of one half are supported by a platform and a simple canopy prevents rain from dropping directly into the trough. The canopy can be anything from discarded galvanized metal or fiberglass shed roofing or even parts of playground toys your kids have outgrown. This design isn’t always the prettiest, but it is effective and low cost.

A more attractive design uses a wooden frame and support that cradles a wooden trough. One common way to make this DIY project more simple is to use a wooden planter box. The canopy is typically galvanized metal or roofing tile for the best weather resistance. The wooden trough design offers the flexibility to build at the size appropriate for the property. They can be built for deer, horses, goats, and other livestock or even made smaller and lower to the ground to provide feed for turkeys, chickens, ducks, and other fowl.

A wooden trough feeder should be built from lumber that is intended for use on the ground to prevent rot and insect damage. Building these designs can be as simple as possible or more ornate, depending on the builders desire. They can be built using little more than a hand saw, a hammer, and some nails, but investing in proper weather-proof screws and using high-quality wood glue at the joints will provide a more stable and longer-lasting project.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Gravity and Trough Feeders

While gravity and trough feeders are excellent DIY projects that can provide deer or other wildlife with a reliable food source, there are certain considerations to be made before selecting one or the other.

Pros and Cons of Gravity Feeders

Gravity feeders offer the ability to feed wildlife a continuous supply of food as long as the reservoir holds out. This “free-feeding” design is more natural for deer than automatic feeders because they will eat when they want. It is also a largely trouble-free design that can hold larger amounts of feed to ensure a constant supply of food. They are also fairly easy to build at home without expensive components or advanced skills.

A drawback to many gravity feed designs is the difficulty in filling the feeder once it is in place. They can be awkward to fill once attached to a tree or placed on a stand. Finding solutions to making the gravity feed design you like work well may require a method of raising and lowering the bucket if using that design or bringing a ladder to fill larger feeder designs.

Gravity feeders can also get stuck, particularly when rain causes the grains to swell. This can make the feeder stop working and might allow the corn or feed to rot. Sealing areas where water can get into the container will help prevent sticking.

Pros and Cons of Trough Feeders

Trough feeders are an excellent way to provide plenty of feed for a large group of deer that are eating at once. These designs are also easy to make attractive so that your property doesn’t have an ugly eyesore of a feeder sitting on it to ruin an otherwise pristine view.

The design of a trough feeder may require woodworking skills and power tools to build properly, but the result of a little work is an attractive feeder design tht will last for many years.

The open design of a trough feeder can encourage less-desirable visitors, including racoons, skunks, and armadillos. In turn, these animals can draw in many predators such as coyotes that may become a problem. Corn isn’t just a favorite food for deer, almost every other critter out there loves it, too. Birds are particularly fond of trough feeders.

My Final Take

Building a DIY deer feeder is a fun and inexpensive project that doesn’t require a bunch of complicated steps. A deer feeder can be put together in just a few hours for much less than what most commercial deer feeders retail at. Deer feeders offer a great way to attract deer onto your property and provide a source of food that is nutritious to encourage a healthy environment.

One advantage of any DIY deer feeder is the satisfaction you get when the project is completed and you are able to watch trail camera footage of deer using your feeder and knowing that you built it yourself.

Now, the real question is whether or not these are truly the best deer feeders out there for your next hunt?

For a blog about What Deer Sounds Mean we have that too!