Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Building With Stock Panels: Basic Hay Feeder

Hay costs money. Anything which will increase the amount of hay from each bale which is eaten rather than wasted is a good thing.  A basic, box-style hay feeder will keep the hay from being stepped on and trampled while being eaten, and so less will be wasted.

Building materials for this feeder are hog-type stock panels. Combination panels can also be used. If you have some stock panels which have been damaged but which still have good sections, they are good to cut up for this purpose. To cut stock panels, use a bolt cutter. Long handled ones work best.

The long sides on my feeder are 5 units/holes long, the short sides are 3 units/holes long. This makes a size that fits the hay bales I get around here.  I took hog panel sections and cut them to the lengths I wanted, then cut off the top sections so the bottom/remaining sections were a bit over 1 foot high. 

The reason I used hog panels and not cattle panels is that the hog panels, as you can see, have narrowly spaced bars at the bottom and so will hold the hay in, and also the sheep and goats cannot eat through the bottom section the way they could through a cattle panel section.

Now, I fastened the stock panel sections to each other to form a rectangle with U-bolts, 1/4 inch size. You could also use wire or baler twine if you are short of cash, at least until you can afford the U-bolts.

Now, take the cut off tops from the side sections and cut off any protruding sections of bar. Fasten one of these sections to the bottom of your rectangular box with more U-bolts. It will only cover about half of the bottom, but that's OK. The purpose of it is to keep your rectangular box rectangular.

The next cut-off section will be your feeder's top. Place the top across the middle of the feeder. On one side, attach with some quick links or spring clips. These will act as a hinge. On the other side, use one or two spring clips to hold the top in place. (You can also use wire or baler twine as a cheap substitute for the quick links and spring clips.)

To put hay in the feeder, unclip the spring clips which hold the top in place and put the hay bale in. Be sure and remove the baler twine from the bale and put it away wherever you keep your 'building supplies'. Clip the top back in place with the spring clips.

The feeder top serves to prevent your sheep and goats from standing on the hay bale.  Since it does not cover the whole top, the animals can eat all the way to the bottom of the bale.

You can also use the feeder without the top. This is great when you have an animal you don't want to get in the pen with. Just put the feeder close to the fence of the pen and toss the hay in.

This is a U-bolt. I think sometimes they are called cable clamps. (One of the nuts is missing from this one.) The 1/4 inch size is great for working with stock panels. It's also a good idea to have a few 1/2 inch ones for working with bent stock panels and complicated situations.

If you have a bent stock panel, sometimes you can use a 1/2 inch U-bolt to fasten it tightly, then put a 1/4 inch right next to the 1/2 inch U-bolt and remove the more expensive 1/2 inch one.

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