How to save on feed and bedding costs:
Build a feeder designed for cows!
Below are instructions and/or photos for the following styles of hay feeder, in order:
- Indoor Hay Feeder – Version 1
- Indoor Hay Feeder – Version 2
- Outdoor Hay Feeder
- Calf Hay Feeder
- Mineral Feeder
#1 – INDOOR HAY FEEDER :
My dad made the first feeder (pictured above).
- This feeder is made of wood and PVC. We wanted something that the cows could stand at and enjoy a variety of feeds without losing much on the ground (see how clean the ground is?!) We couldn’t find a store-bought style that worked, because they are all designed for horses or for round bales. My dad came up with the idea for the PVC, thinking it would “flex” a little and be easy for the cows to eat through and never get hurt.
- The bottom of the PVC pipes are snugged into a board that has been drilled with holes the size of the PVC. On top, the PVC can be attached by a clamp or by a screw being drilled through the back. Be sure to cap the pipes so they don’t scratch you when you’re putting hay in!
- The trough area is about 6 inches deep for the alfalfa flakes to fall into. You could also put your salt block or loose minerals in this area.
- Scrap wood can make this project very inexpensive.
- In retrospect, the only change would be to make the top wider to allow for more hay capacity.
My husband made the second feeder (pictured below) out of solid rough cut lumber.
Dimensions are similar to the first feeder.
- Used rough cut lumber for slats (over time, the edges get worn really smooth from the rough cow tongues licking on them as the cows eat hay out of the feeder)
- Overall length extended, fits 4-5 Jersey cows
- Bolted into place
- Back side has a platform about 2 feet off the ground to step up into to feed hay from the outside
#3 – OUTDOOR HAY FEEDER :
There is a feeder that my husband designed for outside use that keeps the cows eating outside when they can (which keeps the freestall barn drier and cleaner).
He likes to feed the cows outside during the day, which gives him time to clean out the freestall barn and indoor feed area. Plus, the cows enjoy being outdoors during the day, with the option to come inside in bad weather.
Works well for pasture feeding, too (keeps hay off ground and avoids weed seed getting onto ground).
#4 – CALF (or 1 cow) HAY FEEDER :
#5 – MINERAL FEEDER :
About the BARN in the first photo: My dad built this barn from logs on our property and local plywood. We then stained the barn on the outside for weatherproofing and Dad put a metal roof on top. It is approximately 12 feet deep and 24 feet long. It is nearly indestructible. 🙂 (Now that we have our own farm, this has become fancy beef cow housing.)
About the STALLS: My husband spaces freestalls for Jerseys at 42 inches wide (from center of bar to center of bar) and the end rail (another log from the farm) at 6.5 feet from the wall to the inside of the curb. The freestalls are a “lunge” style and cows do not get stuck in them. The bar across the top is to prevent them from going to the bathroom in their stall by making them step back when they stand up. It is out about 12-16 inches depending on herd. You can do all sorts of bedding, but a sandy or dirt base with shavings on top is what we chose for the summertime, and was something cheaply available to us. You can add straw in the winter for warmth in cold climates. Click here for detailed information on building freestalls:DIY FREESTALL DESIGN