HOW AND WHY WE BUILT THIS HAY FEEDER
We get asked a lot about a hay feeder we built a few years ago. People drive by and see it, stop and look at it, measure it and want to know why we built it. We built it a couple of years ago based on an Eden Shale farm design. That’s the university of Kentucky’s experimental cattle farm. Here’s the link so you can see where our information came from: https://www.edenshalefarm.com/ . We had to change it a little bit because we have horned cattle but it is pretty much the same thing. We love it because we never have to get in the field to load hay. Tractors don’t get muddy. We’re never disturbing the cows. It’s just a great system all around.
We built this so we could put six 4x6 round bales in here. The cows eat it right up to almost nothing and then we’ll put in five more round bales. The action of putting in the new bales moves the previous hay up to the front of the feeder to make room for the new bales. This process acts as a self-cleaner for the hay feeder, keeping older hay up front to be finished before they begin to eat the new bales.
One quick little construction detail is a product we use called Saddled and Ready. They make a really nice product. You slide them over two and three eighths (they also make them for two and seven eighths I believe) and weld them in place. They are strong. The pre-fabricated cuts make it so easy to join fencing. It takes less than five minutes to weld one of these in place. Another note that may be helpful, we used sucker rod for the sides of our feeder but we found that when you have horned cattle they’ll get on that sucker rod and they’ll rip it out. So we ended up making our top rail out of two and three eighths inch where the cattle’s head goes through to give it additional strength.
One thing you may not notice from the photos of the feeder is the excavation work we did surrounding the feeder. We went out about six or eight feet from the sides of the feeder, excavated down about four or five inches, put geo-textile fabric down and then put crusher run or CA6 all around it. This means that even in the wettest parts of the year these cattle are never standing more than hoof deep in mud. So it’s really good for the cattle.
I hope that helps some folks out. Like I mentioned before, we had a bunch of people come by and look at that feeder and ask questions. Be sure to visit the University of Kentucky’s Eden Shale farm. They did a great job with the research project. They show several different designs and discussed the pros and cons of each. They talk about using concrete, gravel and geo-textile fabric and how effective and efficient each option is for the farmer.
Be sure to check us out for more information and plenty of opinions at www.dogwoodhillscattle.com. Thanks for visiting with us!