If you have a shed that is not being used or is in need of repair, you can convert it into a round-bale hay feeder for cattle or horses. Round bales are particularly popular for cattle. When used for horses, it is essential that the bales be kept in some sort of shelter to prevent mildew. A shed already provides a roof and is closed in. All it takes is a few alterations and you have the perfect round-bale hay feeder.
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Things you need
- A shed large enough to accommodate at least one round bale of hay
- Circular skill saw
- 16- and 8-penny nails
- 2-inch-by-4-inch pieces of lumber
- 1/2-inch plywood
- 5/8-inch plywood
- Gate hinges with screws and latch
- Electric sander
Install a wider and taller door to allow room for inserting a round bale; most doors on sheds will not be large enough for a forklift to move a bale into the space inside the shed. Remove the wood or metal siding from the outside of the shed around the door to a point where the opening is at least as large as a single-car garage door.
With the framing exposed, reinforce the edges where the opening will go with 2-inch-by-4-inch lumber, attaching it to the existing timbers all the way to the ceiling joists. If the existing timbers are not where they need to be for putting the door in place, insert two new 2-inch-by-4-inch pieces of lumber joined together to make the edges of the frame. Use 16-penny nails so that the frame is good and solid against the existing timbers. Run another 2-inch-by-4-inch piece across the top at the point where the top of the door will be, nailing it to each 2-inch-by-4-inch stud. There should now be a solid frame with exposed studs in between the sides of the door opening, with one piece going across the top, forming the top of the door frame.
Saw the exposed studs even with the new door frame. For reinforcement, run a 2-inch-by-4-inch piece across the bottom of the studs at the top of the new door frame. Cut the wood or metal siding to fit around the new door frame.
Converting the Door of a Wooden Shed
Make a door for the opening: Build a frame half the size of the door opening from 2-inch-by-4-inch lumber and attach a piece of 1/2-inch plywood, using 8-penny nails. Line the plywood up with the outside edges of the frame. Attach two gate hinges to one side over the plywood, one toward the top and one toward the bottom. If the door is unusually large, consider using a third hinge in the middle. Mount the other side of the hinges on the door frame of the building, lining the door up even with the door frame. Make another frame for the other side of the building door frame. The door halves should now meet in the middle of the building door frame. Fasten with a large sliding bolt latch (a type of latch often used on gates).
Make a deck if the shed has no floor. Use 2-inch-by-4-inch lumber to build a frame. Either use 5/8-inch plywood on the top, or 2-inch-by-6-inch boards. With plywood, drill holes for drainage. With 2-inch-by-6-inch boards, leave small gaps in between.
Form the areas where the cattle or horses will be sliding their heads in to eat the hay: Prepare the openings by reinforcing with 2-inch-by-4-inch lumber at the edges, top and bottom. The openings need to be wide enough for the horse or cow to fit its head in comfortably, but far enough off the ground that a horse or cow cannot get its legs in. If the existing timber is not where it needs to be to form the openings, place two 2-inch-by-4-inch pieces together at each side, top and bottom of the openings to form the frame.
Saw the openings out even with the reinforced frame. Use the sander to smooth out rough edges. If the shed is small, consider placing openings on both sides in order to feed more livestock at a time.
Floor and Sides
Tips and warnings
- If you are converting a metal building, use a circular saw blade that is made for cutting metal. It will speed up the cutting process.
- If the shed is large enough, store round bales in the centre where they are out of reach of cattle or horses. You can also make a cover for one or two of the windows by putting hinges on a piece of plywood and attaching it to the top of the opening. Put a latch at the bottom. This way, you can store the bales on the sides as well.
- If you live in a high-moisture climate, consider using treated lumber to prevent rot. Use marine plywood for the doors.
- Always wear safety glasses while cutting wood or metal.
- Wear a mask when using an electric sander.
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