Motorized Automatic Feeders for Deer, Turkey or Other Wildlife Attraction
Ready made motorized automatic feeders are readily available at nearly all
hunting retailers but many do not have the components necessary to make your
own. Once again the internet fills this gap.
The motorized wildlife feeder is easy to make and save money while doing so. To
make your own you will need the following:
- a barrel to provide a large source of grain or protein pellets,
metal 30 or 55 gallon barrels are the most practical size, If you plan to feed
several months during the year the 55gal will provide longer use times between
- a removable top will be required. The best tops are the type with a band
to clamp the top to the barrel.
- legs to mount the barrel at a height of about six feet to the bottom. The
three leg tripod design works well. They can be made of pipe or angle iron
steel shapes. Galvanized electrical conduit is long lasting. In either case a
mounting configuration decision has to be made. The steel or pipe legs can be
directly attached to the barrel or to a ring which the barrel can sit on.
- Some sort of steel leg reinforcement ties, these can be the same material
as the legs. Make them long enough to bolt between two legs and provide
stability. (an economical option is to make the entire barrel stand of 2" X 4"
- an economical option is to make the stand of 2" X 4" treated lumber.
- if using a barrel, an inverted inner cone (funnel) having a small hole
will be necessary to keep the feed from sitting stagnant in the corners and
fostering dangerous fungus growths. Besides it will be more efficient to have
- a motorized spinning wheel with mounting brackets to bolt to the bottom of
the barrel under the feed hole. This is what makes this a motorized automatic
- a battery to provide power for the motor.
- an optional solar charger for the battery ( this precludes the having to
remove the battery and charge it with your vehicle.)
A hole can be cut near the bottom of the barrel and a door installed so the
battery can sit behind it. This will be in the space below the inverted cone.
Hinges and a locking hasp can be tack welded or bolted to the barrel and door
for theft security. The control board photocell and/or timer for starting and
stopping the motorized automatic feeder can be mounted on the little door. If
the control board has a photocell a hole will have to be cut in the door
to allow light entry. To keep the elements out glue a small piece of clear
acrylic over the hole. Better yet make the door from clear acrylic. When setting
up the feeder the window for the photocell should be facing north. DIY
motorized automatic feeders
components can be
ordered from a single convenient source.
Home made motorized automatic feeder with wooden hopper:
The same components ( motorized automatic feeder slinger and motor ) can also be used with the home made wooden feeder. Decide on
the size box you want and build in a 45 degree sloped inverted pyramid in the
lower section. Choose the motorized automatic feeder you desire. Such
feeders have a built in auger to pull deer feed from the hopper. Drill a hole in
the center of the inverted pyramid based on the motorized automatic feeder
manufacturers instructions. If there are no instructions keep the hole as small
as possible, for sure less than 11/4" in diameter. The idea is to have a hole
small enough that it will bridge over and stop flowing from gravity when the
motorized automatic feeder is not running.
The construction of the box matters little as long as it is strong. Marine
grade 1/2" plywood sheathing with a treated 2" X 2" frame will be plenty strong.
The 2" x 2" which rings the top of the box should be ripped on the high side to
the same angle as the box slope for proper fit after adding hinges.
Make the hopper lid (top cover) large enough to keep blowing rain out. A 3-4"
overlap will work if sealed as discussed later. Center the lid over the top of
the box and draw a continuous line around the box on the lid. Place hinges so
that they are on the high side. if looking for security position hinges so the
leaves are inside the box The box should be built such that the lid will
slope like a shed roof .The top can be cut from the same treated plywood. To
assure a good weather tight seal apply self adhesive closed cell rubber or
flexible plastic window stripping around top where itcontacts the box Cover the lid with plain
old tar paper and shingles. Make a lid holder from a length of 2" x 2",
drill a hole near one end, the size required to allow it to swivel around a bolt
you position as shown on the side of the box. This stick will hold up the top
while the hopper is being filled. A1" x 2" strip along the front lip of the top
will serve for a stick support.
Add legs or build a separate platform from treated 2" x 4" lumber. and add a
locking hasp between the top and box. As done with the metal drum, cut a hole
near the bottom and make a wooden cover to mount the battery and control board.
Last no matter the type of feeder you build or buy when setting it up set the
legs on concrete pads. They are available from the lumber yards and can be
drilled for bolts to hold the legs in place. These pads will help prevent
rusting and corrosion an well as termites and will keep the legs from sinking in
the ground after rains.
Finally paint the motorized automatic feeder hopper exterior with a good deck
stain having a five year minimum life warranty. Deck stain protects the wood
while allowing moisture to be eliminated. and will not peel like paint.
Many control boards cause the motorized automatic feeders to feed at daybreak
and sunset. Feeding at daybreak is great because you can see the animals for the
rest of the day but feeding at sunset is not practical because it is illegal to
hunt after sunset. For this reason the control board the hunter chooses should
feed at sunrise when the photocell activates then feed again about 30 min.
before sunset. To do this get a control board with a photocell and adjustable
timer. This forces the deer to start moving earlier in the afternoon than they
would normally do.
Motorized Automatic Feeder Preventative Maintenance:
Being a mechanical device motorized automatic feeders require maintenance and
is not the time for your equipment to fail.
If the feeder fails prematurely and stops feeding, what do the deer do?
The motor can burn up, the
battery and chargers can fail, wires corrode, get shorted and seals fail causing
motor freeze up. If any wire terminations are bare or become bare coat them with
silicone construction sealant.
Purchase a spare control board and battery in the least. When going to the
lease or hunting site take the well charged spare battery. Take a volt meter
with to check the old battery and charger output. Check for loose connections
and tighten. Spray w/silicone weather proffer.
Check the slinger, use it to spin the motor, if it is loose you are going to
need an Allen wrench so put one in the kit. If the motor does not spin freely it
may require replacement. At the least take some machine oil and use it in the
shaft even if it has sealed bearings Trip the timer to make sure it runs and
Check the lid and seal to make sure the feed is not getting wet. Before
refilling an empty hopper brush out any residual feed.
When the season is over remove the battery and charger. If not too much
trouble remove the motor also and store inside. Remember do not store batteries
on a concrete floor, lift them off the floor with a painted board.
Your Tool Kit
As pointed out earlier get a dedicated Allen wrench for all sizes used in
your feeder a multi-meter , screw drivers of both kinds, pliers and a couple of
Machine oil, roll of electrical tape, 3M Scotch 33 is best. Add a tube of
silicone construction sealant and can of silicone spray. A small bottle of
liquid wire insulation might be handy. Add a fresh roll of foam insulation tape and granulated ant poison to put in motor case.