One of the joys of having a homestead is the mix of animals you can raise together. They tend to resemble more of a zoo, which I think is one of the perks of being a homesteader. It’s not uncommon to see goats and cows grazing in a pasture with llamas and chickens alongside them. And sure those animals can all chow down on the same grass and weeds but when it comes to individual feed, this is a whole other story.
Each animal has a feed made specifically for them. One that will give the best nutritional value that meats that animals specific requirements. This is usually a grain mix of some sort not to mention breed-specific supplements and even treats. This means the more animals you raise the more different types of feed you will need to keep and store.
This was something, I found out rather quickly, that needed to be taken care of from day one. A way to store all the different feed securely that would not only ensure the food is kept fresh but will also keep the rodents out.
Another lesson I learned as well. You cannot give spoiled food (even slightly) to your animals. A good rule of thumb to have is. If you won’t eat it, don’t make them eat it. If it’s going to make you sick, odds are it will make your livestock sick as well.
You know that old saying, for every mouse you see there are 100 more hiding. Okay, maybe that is not a saying, but trust me it’s (almost) true.
I can tell you it is terrifyingly true and it took just one bag of chicken feed left on my barn floor to find out.
After weeks of getting that mistake corrected, I decided it was time to find a way to house all the different feeds I needed to store in a secure way.
Below is a list of all the storage I have tried myself. Some will work better than others and I tried to give my own rating system. This is meant to help you better decide which will work best for you. My top criteria for finding the best containers for food storage is their ability to keep pests out. How well they keep the food fresh and how easily I can move them around even when they are full.
We do not have issues with ants where we live so I do not know specifically how well each of these options works to deter them. If you live in an ant area I would love to know what containers you like and why. Just leave a comment below so I can add your information to this list.
The Best Livestock Feed Storage Containers
Metal Drum Barrels
This was the first way I stored my feed and for a while, it worked great. One large barrel can hold 3-4 bags of 50lb chicken feed or 100lbs of pig feed. You can use these drums to hold several bags for full storage or keep full bags inside and feed directly from there. Either way, drums work great because they do hold quite a bit. Just know that once you fill them, you seriously cannot move them.
Since the lids do not lock down securely on most metal drums, I find that placing a brick on the top will usually keep the mice out.
SLCG PRO TIP: Never underestimate a mouse. They can seriously fit into the smallest of holes bringing their entire family along for the feast. Be thorough when you are securing your lids and you will never have to deal with these pests.
Pro: Metal barrels are incredibly durable. Once you buy one you can expect it to last.
Cons: These barrels take up quite a bit of room and are not easy to move even when they are empty. Another con is it can be incredibly difficult to get that last 50lb bag of feed out of a large metal drum. This was something that was pretty much impossible for me given my shortness.
Bottom Line: A great way to store bags of feed in a very secure way. Barrels are also perfect for 100-pound bags of feed that you leave in and use until they are gone.
I really loved using plastic totes to store my feed and I used this method for quite a few years. They are pretty inexpensive and can be stacked up taking up much less room. This is especially helpful if you have a pretty small feed room as we did.
Since most totes have handholds on either side, you can more easily move them even when completely full of feed.
If you are stacking totes you will need to label them so it is easier to find the feed or supplements you need without having to dive into each.
Since we had multiple totes for each breed of animal I liked to keep things stacked together. My feed room resembled a Walmart with a section for ducks, one for chickens, pigs, goats, and even our dog and cat. I find that when you bundle totes together it makes your feeding system much more efficient.
Small totes, shoebox-sized, also are a great way to store minerals and other small supplements.
Pro: Easy to move even when full and if you purchase like sizes, they can stack up nicely even when full. As long as the lids fit securely they will keep mice out and feed fresh.
Cons: Normal sized totes cannot hold a full bag of feed. This means you will need a second tote to hold the rest of the feed or you will want to find another way to store partial bags until you need them.
Bottom Line: Totes are very inexpensive and work great in a small livestock shelter since they can stack easily taking up much less room.
This is a great way to hold small bags of feed or partial bags if you are using totes for your main storage. A tack box is simply a plastic or wooden box with a hinged lid. These boxes are quite common in barns and can hold up to a few hundred pounds of feed at one time.
You can purchase tack boxes or just make on as we did. Just remember if you choose to make your own box that you have handles that allow you to move it easily. I love our rope handles since this means even I am able to drag a full tack box away from the wall to clean. Frequent cleaning is a major requirement if you want a mouse free barn.
Pro: Tack boxes can double as food storage and a bench making it so easy to mix feed on.
Con: Hard to keep the contents neat inside. Spills tend to happen when you have different bags of feed opened for mixing. This puts another cleaning task on your homesteading chores list which is probably already longer than your arm.
Bottom Line: Tax boxes are a nice way to store food and give you a work table at the same time. This is great for smaller hobby farms where room is a bit short.
Plastic Feed Storage Containers
This last year I decided to invest in livestock feed storage containers from Vittles Vault that are made for storing horse feed. These stacking containers resemble bins and have round lids that you can easily screw on and off keeping mice completely out. Inside is a scoop and each container will hold 50 pounds of feed. This really surprised me since the bins look relatively small.
There are handholds on the sides of the plastic bins that make them easy to move even when full.
They are completely rodent-proof, from my own experience, because they are made of very thick plastic and have tight lids with a rubber ring seal allowing you to keep it securely in place.
Pros: Hold quite a bit of feed and are easy to move. They stack nicely and work great on wire shelving.
Cons: They are somewhat expensive and for that reason may not be the best option for a newer homestead.
Bottom Line: If you can afford the investment these feed storage containers are my top pick. Their size is the perfect chicken feed bin holding a 50-pound bag nicely.
If new containers are not in the budget this year yet you are still in need of a feed storage option, then galvanized garbage/trash cans might be what you need. A super simple and affordable approach that will help to keep mice and rats out of your feed. Something that can happen with a few of the other options mentioned above.
Pros: The nice thing is they hold quite a bit and are relatively easy to use.
Cons: Most have lids that are not able to close and lock, however, you can anchor them down with a brick or even a chain.
Bottom Line: A great option if you are just starting out and want a secure way to store your feed that will keep large rodents from chewing through the container.
By having storage in place that will keep livestock healthy with fresh feed and pests out saving yourself so many headaches later on. Once mice find your feed it can be a time-consuming pain to get rid of them. And time is something every homesteader is pretty short on.
Find an option for feed storage ideas that will work best for you and create a money-saving not to mention nicely organized, feed room that you enjoy to be in.
Even if you have just a few chickens, a single pet or an entire zoo like we do having a secure way to store your animal’s food with feed storage containers is not only good for the quality of the food but economical for you as well.