DIY Chicken Feed Indicator for PVC Chicken Feeder

Chicken feed indicator for PVC feeder


Today I decided to make a feed indicator for the PVC chicken feeder I made recently. If you decide to make the feeder I made, I highly recommend adding this modification before you do step 4, or it will be a pain in the arse attaching the plate to the bolt. Basically all this indicator consists of is a bolt, with a round metal plate attached to it, that is uneven in weight. So when you fill the feeder, you hold the flag up and the feed will keep the flag raised until it drops below the plate. Keep in mind I am no engineer, so it was trial and error and some steps have no measurements, but I will inform you what I did to make it work. So lets get started.

DIY PVC Chicken Feeder

Materials Needed:

12×12 inch 18 gauge piece of sheet metal

1/4 inch metal/rubber cable clamps. Qty. 2

1/4 x 5 – 1/2 inch Hex Bolt. Qty. 1

1/4 – 20 nuts. Qty. 3

Ceiling fan weights.

Self tapping sheet metal screws.

Tools Needed:


Drill bits.

Tin Snips

Screw Drivers.


Step 1.

Find the center of your 4 inch PVC pipe. Next measure 4 – 1/4  inches up from your center marks on each side to mark your drill holes.  See pictures below.

4 inch PVC half marks

4 inch PVC drill hole measurements


Step 2.

Next drill out both marks with a 9/32 drill bit. Make sure to clean off any burrs, and then slide your 5 – 1/2 inch hex bolt through the holes and make sure it spins freely.

4 inch PVC drilled


Step 3.

On this next step I started out with a 3 – 3/4 inch circle but later on I found I had to trim it quit a bit to account for the side to side bolt play. The plate kept hitting the sides of the PVC and binding, so you might want to go with a 3 – 1/2 inch circle. I also didn’t have any specific measurements for the flag I kind of winged it. Once you have both drawn out on your sheet metal cut them out with a pair of tin snips. Then drill a 1/4 inch hole in the flag as shown below. Now is also a good time to paint your flag a bright color.

Sheet Metal Flag and Circle Plate

Flag cut out.


Step 4.

For this next step my neighbor gave me some cool clamp on weights, she said they were for balancing fan blades. Now I don’t know where you can get these, but they do sell ceiling fan blade weighs at home depot that are stick on. So you can skip cutting out the top part of the plate and just stick on a ceiling fan weight. I made this cut because the weights were sticking out to far and they hit the inside of the PVC pipe. Also the cut I made on the bottom of the plate, I just recommend cutting the 7/8 inch line straight across. So start buy finding the center of the circle plate you cut out in step 3, and then measure down 7/8″ and cut that line off. See the pictures below.

Circle plate measurements

Circle plate first cut

In this picture I had to cut off the two sharp corners at the 7/8″ mark. See picture below.

Final Plate Design

This is what the plate ended up looking like when I finished.

Fan Weights

These are the 5 gram fan weights my neighbor gave me.


 Step 5. 

Next lay your 1/4 x 5 – 1/2 inch hex bolt with two 1/4 metal/rubber clamps across the center line of the plate. Then mark your two clamp holes and drill them out. I used two machine screws with lock nuts to attach the clamps but it was a pain to tighten once attached to the bolt. I recommend using some self tapping sheet metal screws instead and just drill two small pilot holes for them.

Mark Clamp Holes

Drilled Clamp Holes

Rubber Clamps

Here are the clamps I used 1/4 inch, purchased at sears hardware.


Step 6.

Next attach the clamps to the plate loosely with two self tapping screw. Just start the screws don’t tighten them all the way.

Final Plate Design


Step 7.

Put the plate inside the 4 inch PVC pipe then slide the bolt through the PVC pipe and the clamps on the plate. Once the plate is nice and centered on the bolt tighten the two clamp screws.

Plate attached


Step 8.

Next thread two of the 1/4 – 20 nuts onto the hex bolt. tighten the first one as far as it will got then tighten the second nut to the first. Next attach the flag and the final 1/4 – 20 nut but don’t tighten yet.

Flag attached.


Step 9.

Next you want to have the plate vertical with the weighted part up. Now align the flag so it is up too, now tighten the nut to secure the flag. When you hold the flag up now the plate inside should be vertical with the weights facing up. When you release the flag it should drop.

Flag aligned


That’s it for the feed indicator. When you fill the feeder just keep the flag up, the chicken feed will keep the flag in position until the level of feed drops below the plate. You can now continue onto step 4 of the feeder I built here. You can also use this indicator with any 4 inch pvc chicken feeder that you may have designed.