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Building Nest Structures, Feeders, and Photo Blinds
for North Dakota Wildlife

Barrel Feeder for Wildlife

A simple feeder can be constructed from a 55 or 30 gallon steel barrel which can often be acquired for little or no cost. This type of feeder can be filled with any grain including black oil sunflower, corn, oats, or a mixture of grains. It serves as a ground feeder and is excellent for deer, turkeys, and other upland birds.


Find a barrel which did not contain pesticides or other toxic chemicals. The barrels most commonly available are those which contained petroleum products. Ensure any residue is washed from the inside of such barrels.

Remove one end of the barrel. This will become the top end into which grain is poured. Do not attempt cutting out the end with a cutting torch as vapors within the barrel may be explosive. Instead, use a saber saw with a metal cutting blade or a large hammer and metal cutting chisel.

Make a 12 inch cut lengthwise along the bottom edge of the barrel about 2 inches above the bottom base ring. The cut should be started by first drilling a 3/8 inch hole where the cut will begin. Cut 12 inches across the bottom beginning at the 3/8 inch hole with a saber saw and fine metal cutting blade.

Pound in the metal above the 12 inch cut. The result should be a half-moon shaped opening that will release grain as it is taken from the small tray opening below.

If the barrel did not come with a lid, cut a section of exterior plywood slightly larger than the opening in the top of the barrel. Secure this lid to the barrel using tarp straps. Eye bolts can be fastened to both the barrel and the plywood for points to hook the straps. As an alternate and more simple method, nail three small blocks of wood on the bottom side of the lid just inside the top edge of the barrel and place a brick or other heavy object on top to hold the lid in place.

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