Thursday, November 10, 2022

How to Store Animal Feed

By Jill Winger - November 09, 2022 at 02:26PM

Animal Feed Storage

It is no secret that the one part of homesteading that I get really excited about is having all the animals roaming around.

Adding livestock big or small is usually a huge stepping stone on a homesteading journey and to self-sufficiency. When you are deciding what livestock is right for your homestead, you obviously have to consider how much space you have for your chosen animals, but another important thing that often gets overlooked is the space that you have to store the animal’s feed.

For every species of animal added to your homestead, a new feed gets added to your supply. Instead of leaving your feed bags haphazardly out in the open, you should consider the amount of space you can provide for feed storage containers. Feed storage containers are super important because they will keep your feed out of the elements, keep unwanted pests out, and keep your feed supply organized. 

Believe me, it is no fun finding rancid-smelling feed or finding rats having a snack when you open your feed bag. There are many different animal feed storage options, but before you buy or build one, consider the following:

  1. How Many Animals You Will Be Feeding?
    Determining how many animals you will be feeding (especially those that use the same kind of feed) will help you figure out how much feed you will need to store at a time.
  2. Will You Buy in Bulk or Small-Scale?
    A large area or container may not be needed if you are only storing feed for 3 laying hens. On the other hand, if you are buying bulk feed for 50 meat chickens, then a larger storage solution may be required.
  3. How Many Different Feeds Will You Be Buying?
    You will want to determine how many different types of feed will be stored for each species of animal on your homestead. You will probably need a different container for each one.

Once you have determined the amount of feed and the number of different feeds that need to be stored, you can start looking for the right animal feed storage containers. 

How to Store Animal Feed | Feed Storage Containers

How to Store Animal Feed (Rodent-Free)

Remember ideally your animal feed storage containers will be used to keep your feed both dry and also pest-free.   When you are choosing feed storage containers, the size and material will depend on the amount of feed you are storing and the area they will be located. 

Common Animal Feed Storage Ideas 

Option #1: An Old Chest Freezer

If you have the space to keep an old chest freezer, this really is a great feed storage idea. It is an airtight container that will keep rodents out of your feed, but depending on the size it can be heavy if you ever need to move it.

This is a great way to repurpose an old chest freezer that was perhaps broken beyond repair for use as an actual freezer. Instead of going to the dump with such a large appliance, you can simply reuse it to hold animal feed. It’s a perfect win-win for both the environment (humans already throw away too much stuff) and for your vehicle/body/time since you won’t have to figure out a way to lug a clunky freezer to the dump.

Option #2: Metal Trash Can

Metal trash cans have been used for years as animal feed storage containers because it is completely metal and rodents have a harder time getting in. These are very sturdy storage containers but if left in the elements over time, they will rust and let in moisture.

So keep these types of feed storage containers in a weather-proof area to prevent the rust. You’ll also want to figure out a way to keep the rodents and pests from moving the lid to get in from the top. 

Option #3: Large Flip-Top Trash Bin

These trash bins are made of heavy plastic and can be found at almost any store. They come with wheels so if you ever need to move them it can be done easily. The flip to usually isn’t extremely tight so moisture and rodent might be able to access your feed over time.

Bulk Food Storage | Food Grade Bucket

Option #4: Food-Grade Plastic Buckets with Lids

If you are not storing a ton of food at one time, then a food-grade bucket with a smart seal lid might be a great option for you. The bucket with the lid creates an airtight seal that is moisture and rodent-free. Over time, you will want to check to make sure your plastic is still in good condition so no rodents can chew through. These buckets are easy to move around but will need to be stored out of reach of larger animals as they can be knocked over.

Option #5: 55-Gallon Metal Drum

These are the big metal drums that are normally used to transport large amounts of liquid (like oil). The lids are airtight and because they are metal rodents can’t chew through any part of them. The downside to these is that they are large, so the bottom can be hard to get to and when full they can be heavy.

If you buy used ones either online or from someone in your community, make sure they are food-grade and didn’t hold something chemical/toxic that would be absorbed into the livestock feed.

Option #6: Large Food-Grade Plastic Drum

These drums are usually used to hold liquids (like juice) but there are many different versions out there. These plastic food-grade drums can come with different types of lids and are found in a variety of sizes. These are water-proof and the plastic is thick enough that most rodents can’t chew their way through it.  Depending on the size that you find, they can become heavy when they are filled with feed. 

If you buy used ones either online or from someone in your community, make sure they are food-grade and didn’t hold something chemical/toxic that would be absorbed into the livestock feed.

Even though your feed is being stored in a container it is still a good idea to have your containers in a covered shed or feed room. This will ensure that your feed will always be out of the elements and sneaky animals won’t continue to try to find ways to get into your containers.

How to Store Animal Feed | Animal Feed Storage

Where to Find Your Animal Feed Storage Containers

Once you have an idea of what type of container you will store your feed in, you will need to find the containers that you are going to use. Finding everyday storage options like trash cans can be easily found at local stores. Chest freezers and larger drums might take a little bit more searching.

Places to look for Animal Feed Storage Containers:

Local Stores:

Local stores are a good place to start when you are looking for everyday items like large trash cans. Some feed supply stores may even have larger drums to sell as feed storage containers specifically. Often, if you ask around at your local mill, you can find someone to help you with location information.

  • Local Feed Mills
  • Hardware Stores


The internet is a good place to look for large drums, old chest freezers, or food-grade plastic buckets if you can not find them in your local area. Facebook, Marketplace, and Craigslist are where I would start for a lower price on the larger containers. If you don’t have much luck, you can always order a drum from an equipment website, but this can be a bit pricey.

  • Facebook Marketplace 
  • Craigslist
  • Equipment Websites
  • True Leaf Market  (This is where I like to source my food-grade 5-gallon buckets and their smart seal lids make it a breeze getting in and out of buckets.) 

Note: When you are sourcing the larger containers, you will want to ask if they have been used before and what was stored in them previously. Make sure they were previously used for food-safe products and not chemicals/toxins that could harm your livestock and/or you.

feed storage in chicken coop

Do You Store Your Animal Feed in Good Quality Containers?

Using good quality containers to store your animal feed can help prevent feed spoilage due to elemental exposure, and also help control pests and keep your feed organized.  You can buy your feed in bulk or on a smaller scale and still have many different feed container options to choose from.

Before you buy your containers, remember to take into consideration the amount of space you have for your containers and how many different feeds will need storage. Do you already have an animal feed storage system?

More About Livestock Feed:

How to Store Animal Feed

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