How to Make Hay Feeders

Written by michelle hogan
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How to Make Hay Feeders
Your animals' hay will stay cleaner in a feeder. (bales of hay image by Mark Grenier from

Ruminants are animals who get the majority of their nutrition from grasses and/or plants. They include cows, goats, sheep, horses, alpacas and llamas. It is important to feed your animals from a hay feeder to keep the hay clean. When placed on the ground, hay can blow away, get trampled and be destroyed by water, dirt and manure. Build or set your hay feeder reasonably close to the ground, however, as animals who are used to eating from the ground can get respiratory or digestive ailments if they are forced to eat from higher up.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 boards, 8 by 2 by 4 feet
  • 6 slats, 1 inch by 2 feet
  • 1 piece of plastic fence, 4 by 4 feet (with 4 by 4 inch squares)
  • 1 box of nails, 2.5 inches, regular or galvanised
  • Heavy duty staples
  • Staple gun
  • 2 old tires (optional)

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  1. 1

    Build two rectangular frames out of the 2 by 4 foot boards by nailing or screwing (if you prefer screws) them together. Each frame should be 2 feet wide and 1.5 feet tall. They should look like two large picture frames.

  2. 2

    Staple lengths of the plastic mesh to what will be the inside of each frame. There should be some overage on each side, which you can cut off after stapling. Connect the two large frames by nailing a 1 foot piece of 2 by 4 to the top and bottom of the frames on each side. This will create a large wooden box with two mesh "windows."

  3. 3

    Nail or screw the four slats to what will become the bottom of the box. Space them about 4 to 5 inches apart. This will keep hay from falling out of the bottom of the feeder and allow air to circulate through the bottom. Use two additional slats, cut into 1-foot-tall pieces, to create side slats on the short side of the box. These should be spaced about 6 inches apart.

  4. 4

    Nail or screw the hay feeder into a wall of the barn, at an appropriate height for your animals. If you wish to place the feeder in the middle of a pasture or barnyard, screw the base of the feeder into two old tires and let the tires act as the base. The tires are water and mud proof and will not be damaged by animals stepping on or kicking them.

Tips and warnings

  • This hay feeder can be used as a template. You can use any other materials you have that will work. You can use additional slats instead of mesh, or pallet wood or different lengths and widths of wood if you like.
  • Never use pressure-treated lumber to make a feeder for your animals. It is toxic for them.

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