How to make automatic hog feeders

Written by natasha parks
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How to make automatic hog feeders
Top-feeders are the most efficient design for any hog enclosure or farm (warthog image by Tom Curtis from Fotolia.com)

Hogs (pigs) are powerful creatures, so make sure any feeder you create for them can withstand their force. During eating times, hogs spread their food about, which can turn mouldy and develop into a potential health hazard. So the design of the hog feeder needs to incorporate an automatic top-feeder. Top-feeders contain a lot of food but only allow a small proportion to become available to the feeding hogs. Making the whole process automatic means the hogs have access to different foods when they need them, including protein until they reach a weight of 34 Kilogram, according to the Science In Farming website.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Saw
  • 50-gallon barrel
  • Plastic-specific sandpaper
  • Warm, soapy water
  • Cloth
  • Tape measure
  • Black marker pen
  • 4- or 6-inch diameter PVC pipe
  • Electric drill
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Wrench

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Saw a plastic or PVC barrel (any large, 50-gallon container can be adapted) into two unequal portions horizontally. One portion will form the smaller lid, and the other portion will become the larger, main feeding container. Sand the edges until smooth using plastic-specific sandpaper. Clean the inside of the barrel portions with warm, soapy water and a cloth to remove any unwanted dirt or oils. Allow to dry.

  2. 2

    Overturn the main barrel portion. Measure and mark two 6-inch points from the edge of the barrel base inward, towards the centre using the tape measure and black marker pen. Repeat in the other direction so there are four markings. The second two markings must be perpendicular to the first two markings.

  3. 3

    Saw four 6-inch lengths of PVC pipe to create supports. The height depends on personal preference and scale of set-up, but pipe with a diameter of 4 or 6 inches standing at ground level should be adequate. The important criterion is whether the hogs can access their food safely and simply.

  4. 4

    Rest one of the PVC pipe sections in place on the barrel base. Mark two points for holes with the black marker pen: one on the pipe and one on the barrel where you want the pipe to be fixed (the centre of the 6-inch lines already marked is one option, or you can add two holes to each support for extra rigidity). Repeat for the four supports.

  5. 5

    Drill holes through the supports at each predefined point and through the base of the barrel. Bolt the supports to the barrel base using nuts and bolts and tighten with a wrench. Turn the barrel back to its upright position.

  6. 6

    Saw an opening in the front of the barrel to form the feeding opening, starting the cut off with a single drilled hole, then using the saw to extend the opening. Position the opening near the base of the barrel, a few inches up so less food can collect inside.

  7. 7

    Make the opening wide enough for the hogs to eat comfortably and receive their food automatically, but limited in the sense that large amounts of food cannot be dragged out in one go. Consider if you need a smaller version of the same feeder for piglets. One sow can give birth to between 20 and 22 per year, as reported by The Meat Site website.

  8. 8

    Smooth the edges of the opening with plastic-specific sandpaper. Add food into the top of the open barrel, then place the lid back on to prevent water or heat damage to the contents.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember not to forget that water is part of a healthy hog diet. Install or create an automatic waterer alongside the solid food area. You will need a garden hose connected to the waterer to provide enough fresh, clean water for drinking, and possibly wallowing, if you also dig a small pit.
  • Protect yourself and your animals. If working in a hot climate, wear sun protection. Hogs suffer from sunburn, too, so try not to leave them outside unprotected while you work.
  • Empty and clean the entire feeder once every two weeks or more if you can, to prevent food becoming trapped at the bottom of the barrel and turning mouldy, which can lead to infections in your animals. Only use mild detergents to clean feeding devices.

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