The goats have had free run of the 3 biggest pastures since late September – able to go in and out of the pastures whenever they felt like it. When the new tenant cows arrive this spring, we will need to rotate the goats into different pastures opposite the cows. While this isn’t a problem in terms of the amount of grass they will have available to eat, it does present an issue with trying to feed them a little bit of hay over the summer while the cows are here.
The outer barn has ample space to spread out hay in various locations so all of the goats can feed at once without fighting over it. Once the goats are rotated off of the pasture with the barn to the other pastures, there are many fewer places to spread out the hay. We decided to design and build a new homemade goat feeder to feed them their hay.
Here is a video of the goats testing out the new goat feeder:
Unfortunately, the first test was only partially successful. The goats successfully ate some hay from it and were not able to knock it over or lift up the roof. However, they began to eat pieces of the wood off of the feeder itself around the corners. We had to remove the feeder from service until we can make some small tweaks before trying again.
Click through for a more detailed description of the goat feeder.
The first stage was designing the feeder. To design the feeder, first you need to determine the requirements for the finished project.
In this case, we needed (i) to have an easy way to move the feeder between pastures, (ii) a roof to keep the hay somewhat dry, (iii) a tray beneath the hay feeder to catch dropped hay and avoid having it touch the ground (as our goats are somewhat picky about their hay and usually don’t eat it after it hits the ground – even though they eat the grass which is attached to the ground!), and (iv) a hay feeder area with small enough openings to slow the goats pulling out all of the hay too quickly.
My family was visiting and they brought along some old wheels with them. The wheels (when attached with bolts and washers) permit the feeder to be rolled from pasture to pasture. It isn’t the easiest to move over un-even ground in the pastures, especially when the grass gets long, but because we only need to move it every couple of weeks, it will work well enough for our purposes.
For the roof, we were able to find some spare plastic roofing in the barn. For the tray, we were able to use a simple piece of plywood we had on hand already. For the main portion of the hay feeder, we were able to locate an old metal shelf in the barn which could be bent into a v-shape – it already had small enough openings. For the sides of the hay feeder, we used some spare wire fencing which I zip-tied to the metal shelf. We did need to buy several new 2x4s to use to make the X-portion of the frame and the cross bracing.
To make the hay easier to load into the feeder, we made the roof open on hinges. We had some old hinges in the barn which worked well enough.
After the results of the first test, we need to make a few minor modifications to cover the corners with metal to prevent the goats from eating the corners. Once that is complete, we should be ready for trial #2.