Thursday, January 10

Easy Hay Feeder

Building a Pallet Hay Feeder

We started our goat herd in November of 2012.
Our baby goats, 3 kids, are now about 3 to 3 1/2  months old and finally weaned.

I started shopping around for a good quality hay feeder.  Goats are notorious for wasting hay.  My goat mentor and giver of the goats, Shelby, told me early on that if I wanted to save money on feed and hay, I needed to buy or build feeders.
Goats pull large amounts of hay onto the floor at a time, then once on the floor it is just too dirty and unclean for them to even think about eating!
Spoiled rotten goats, says I.

I took a look at what our local Tractor Supply had on hand.  A large wall mount grain and hay feeder, but it just didn't seem like what I needed for goats.  This was more for a single horse I think and was priced $119.99

I went on line and found a really nice single capacity X-Tuff wall mounted hay feeder from Premier One Supplies.   It was reasonably priced at $33.00 and closer to what I was looking for.  But upon ordering, I found out the shipping cost was $26.00.  I just have a hard time spending as much on shipping as the product cost, so decided to wait and look around a little more.
Rural King opened a new store in Circleville, about 25 miles from us so we drove over to see what they had for supplies.  I found a heavy metal corner mount hay feeder for $26.99 and purchased it.  Not until I got it home did I realize (or remember) we have large 6 x 6 posts in the corners of each stall so the feeder would not work.  And if I would have thought it through a little more, I would have realized the rungs in the feeder was spaced pretty far apart, so most likely the goats would have pulled all the hay onto the floor anyway. Ugh!

I decided to use some of the old barn wood we salvaged last year and build a hay feeder myself.
On my way back to our back barn to collect the wood, I passed my "collection" of 3 pallets.
A light went off!  Work smarter not harder I always say.
Forgetting the old barn wood, I carried one pallet into the barn, and after "figuring and ciphering" for a few minutes, I came up with this design.

Cut in half or to the desired size

First, placing the pallet on 5-gallon buckets, I used a saw and cut the pallet in half.

Next, after flipping the half pallet over, I cut off the wood strips on the back side.

2 hay flakes will fit in final feeder
My next step was to decide how wide I wanted the hay feeder.  We want the goats for milk, which means I will have more baby goats, which means I should make a larger hay feeder.

Use hay flakes to determine the width of the feeder

I took two hay flakes and laid them on the half pallet.  I drew the cut line and then cut the pallet to the desired width, which when finish will hold two hay flakes side by side. This part of the pallet is now the front of the hay feeder.  (If you need a larger  hay feeder, use the entire side, no cut needed here)

Pallet used as front of feeder, and 2 - 2x4s for wall support

Next, I cut 2 pieces of 2 x 4 to the same height as the hay feeder will be, or the same as the side height of the cut pallet.
2 x 4s attached to the stall wall and side boards

These two 2x4 were then mounted to the barn wall at the exact width of the front of the feeder. I also wanted to make sure the feeder would be high enough off the ground, but not too high.

Since I am working by myself, I needed something to hold the front of the feeder up while I attached it to the 2 x 4's.  I rigged up a prop, then held the front of the feeder out to the desired angle and measured the boards I would need for the sides.  These side boards will not only attach the front to the 2 x 4s at the desired angle but also prevent large amounts of hay from falling out of the feeder.

Pallet attached to side boards causing an angle

Once the side boards were cut, I again used a prop to hold the front in place while I screwed the side boards on.  (I am a huge fan of drywall screws, I can not speak their praise enough.)

My feeder is done!
Pallet attached at an angle

I had barely enough time to drop two flakes of hay into the feeder before the goats were on it.
Well, actually the goats were under foot the entire time I was building this, chewing the box of drywall screws, chewing my hair, Festus even chewed my boot laces and untied one.
The hair chewing has just got to stop!

What I learned researching hay feeders is that there are hundreds of kinds, models, and styles, made out of numerous different things.  And that it's OK if you want to purchase one, and OK to build one, whatever works at your farm and for your animals.
I am and have always been a re-user, a recycler, a savager, and re-claimer, so this was what works best for me in the end.

The cost was next to nothing, the pallet was free, I salvaged the old piece of 2 x 4, the only cost was a handful of drywall screws and my time:  Less than 2 hours.
It is winter here so this feeder is perfect for now.  Come spring and warmer weather, I may redo this with straighter lines and  "perfect" cuts,  but maybe not.

Good luck with your design and hay feeder,

Building A Milking Stand

Goat Birthing

Keeping Goats

"Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. 
A smile. 
A world of optimism and hope. 
A "you can do it" when things are tough."
~Richard M. DeVos

Whether you think you can or think you can't - you are right. 
~Henry Ford

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
  ~Thomas Alva Edison


Anonymous said...

Ok, I see you selling them in the local farm stores. That is so amazing! Love the photos of baby goats. I can't wait for spring sis! Hugs from Jersey,

Anonymous said...

Want a great money saving idea and blends well with your barn! Thanks for sharing

Kim said...

You guys have been busy! The last time I was here you had just got your chickens. lol Great post about the feeder. Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

Love this! When I get goats I will definitely use this idea. We have pallets here right now but they are needed to put the hay on so its not directly on the hay loft floor.

Anonymous said...

Great ideal. And i understand exactly what you meant about the goats underfoot eating the drywall screw box. Amen, been there, I just love when you jump to grab the box back and they run through the yard spilling them everywhich way. Joy of goats.

Elizabeth said...

Ourhomesteaddream: Pallets are getting harder and harder to find, I guess because of all the pallet projects posted on numerous blogs. Hope you realize you dream and goats are part of it. They are very fun animals to have.

Elizabeth said...

Trying to do a project around goats is like working around multiple 2 year olds, yikes! The goats must carry off, taste or chew everything and must be in the middle of any and everything going on in the barn or pasture!

Anonymous said...

There are pallets where they have done all the work on the access road, so of course it has poured rain the last three days and I can't get them.

Sulman Farooq

adeel rehman said...

I like the small mesh hay nets. I have only two horses, but they take about three horse feeders to eat two flakes of hay each. The nets get easier to fill after you've done it a few times. I fill all my nets at once and then use them as needed so I don't have to fill nets at every feeding. Smith Brothers has them on sale right now.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Adeel, Thanks for the comment and input. The more advice us livestock people get the better! I agree the net hay feeders are nice, but don't think those will work with goats. I grew up with horses and remember they will chew on wood but don't remember them chewing on everything they can get their mouths on like a goat. Our goats will chew the nylon netting to bits and since two of them still have their horns, would also get those tangled in the netting. I made the mistake of leaving a nylon hay twine hanging in the stall and one of my young goats nearly broke her own neck. And besides, I didn't spend anything on this wood hay feeder except time! This is just a suggestion to anyone, who like me, likes to reuse, remake or salvage items. I've never owned sheep so am not sure a wood hay feeder is more practical over a net feeder so hopefully a sheep farmer can comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I have recently been searching for information on this subject for ages it seems and yours is the best idea and instructions I have found so far. In regards to the bottom line, I love what little it will cost me! Thanks again

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Glad the post was of some help. Not everyone wants or can make their own hay feeder, but I applaud those that do. Many items I buy for my livestock have a short life like chicken waterers and feeders. My hard plastic goat grain feeder lasted one summer before they torn it into pieces. So making a hay feeder that will hold up under use and last for years, I'm all for it!

Anonymous said...

Well the Hell you say! Fantastic job! Mind just like dad!! Julie

Anonymous said...

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog while looking up info on goats and wished to say that I've really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. If I get goats I'm going to save money and make the feeder too! Thanks. Steve

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Glad you were able to find the blog. I think you'll love goats and let me know how the feeder turns out!

Richard Moran said...

Awesome idea! I'm building one today.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Great Richard, let me know how it turns out.

xinpheld said...

Just built one of these today, Manger 3.0. Fantastic idea. I have a good source for pallets, so even if the goats destroy it in a few months (like they have the previous setups) it'll be a cheap replacement. Thanks!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

xinpheld: Thanks and glad the post helped. I've had mine for months, actually built two because the goats fight over hay, and both hay feeders are holding up and haven't been destroyed. The barn doors, door frames and even the downspout for the barn gutters are in bad shape because of the goats but they don't seem to bother the hay feeders!

xinpheld said...

I can already see I'm going to needs a second one. But it's holding up nicely, and it's too narrow and high up for the younger ones to climb into, so it should last a goodly while - unless they keep using it as a head scratcher.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Yep, I've seen the head scratching, haha. Goats never cease to amaze me by what they can get themselves into!

Pohn Jarker said...

this is one of my favorite examples of what i want to build!

i plan on adding a bottom tray so that i can minimize wasted hay, hopefully they dont jump up on it and use the bathroom....time will tell.

great job!!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

John, thanks so much and glad this post helped. I did add a "bottom tray", using, I think, a 2 x 6 board which is visible in one of the photos. It does help keep the hay in but goats are notorious for waste! My goats have not tried to climb in or jump on the feeder but I did hang it a little high. And they have not use it as a bathroom, but the water bucket and grain feeders are a different story!! Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Great article.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the recommendation. Will try it out.