Ruminants like horses, sheep, goats and llamas or alpacas eat grasses primarily. They were also adapted to eat off the ground (unlike a giraffe who was adapted to eat from above). Forcing an animal that naturally eat off the ground to reach up or even across for their food makes them vulnerable to dust and respiratory ailments. While placing hay on the ground can be wasteful--animals tramp through it and manure, water and mud often can get in it--if you choose to make a feeder or rack for your livestock, you should consider one from which they can still eat as if from the ground, even if it's a bit higher than ground level. Keeping the hay contained and clean, yet easily accessible is the best of both worlds.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 3 to 5 2-inch by 4-inch pieces of wood
Build a simple livestock hay feeder in a corner of your barn or in a stall. Measure a corner where you could put a hay rack and cut out a triangular piece of plywood to fit. Place two 6-inch lengths of 1-inch by 2-inch board level on each of the walls and nail your triangular base piece in place above it (the pieces of wood will hold up the base). Then nail your three or four 2-inch by 4-inch pieces of wood (or other size wood of your choosing) into the wall a few inches apart, forming the rack.
Pull a few flakes of hay out of a bale and pull it apart a bit to loosen it up. Place the hay in the hay rack. If you have access to some plastic or rope netting (like the kind used for temporary fencing or to protect berries from birds), you can use it as a hay rack instead of wood slats. Simply nail or staple the netting to the base board, and then nail to the wall of the corner. This will hold a flake or two at a time without stressing the netting.
Complete the feeding area by placing a nail near the hay rack for a bucket to hold your animal's water off the ground as well. If you have an animal that requires grain or salt, you can build a corner mount for the salt block with just the plywood and slats to hold it up. You may want to put a lip around the edge of the platform to keep the salt or grain from falling out.
The Corner Rack
Tips and warnings
- Never use pressure treated or painted wood to build feeders for animals. If your animal licks or chews on the wood, the chemicals can be very toxic.
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