Monday, July 30, 2012

Slow Feeders Perfected

I have been meaning to post an update about my slow feeders for a while, but with one thing and another (Ramsey!!), I hadn't gotten to it.  With drought and horrifically high temperatures affecting much of the country (including here), hay is going to be in short supply this year.  I know we are all getting worried about this and our drought conditions, while bad, are not as severe as many other areas.   I thought it would be a good time to offer this for anyone thinking about how to get the most out of every bale of hay.  Click on the link above to check out my original post about slow feeders then come back here for the perfected and horse tested version....

The biggest trouble I had with this project was finding the right grate material.  I finally settled on the heavy steel "hog panel" with 4x4 inch squares available at Tractor Supply (I borrowed a couple of these grates from my feeders to cover my window opening when Ramsey was born)....
This has proven to be the perfect feeder material, the only trouble with it, is that the panels are only sold in large sheets that have to be cut down to size.  Since I wanted to make several feeders, it wasn't really a problem, but it could be if you only want one or two feeders.  I did find a place that would sell just the feeder grate, but the cost for one feeder was more than the entire hog panel.  If anybody knows of another source for this type of grate, I'd be glad to hear about it. 

Once I found the grate I wanted, I discovered that the grate dimensions were a bit different from my box dimensions.  I found a way to make them work with my original feeders, but I changed the dimensions and design of the boxes that I have built since then so that the grates fit perfectly.... 

One hog panel can be cut down to make eight 2x4' grates.  Larger or smaller feeders could be made depending on your needs.  Just cut the grate to whatever size you want and build the box around it.  I made the ends of the boxes solid so the grate can't slither out of the box and added a hinged lid so that the horses can't pull the grate out....
  

To fill the box, just open the lid, lift out the grate, fill the box with hay, put the grate on top of the hay and close the lid.



The boxes are made to hold an average sized square bale and works well for 1-2 animals depending on whether or not the horses will share.  I made several of these for my riding buddy and her 4 horses (along with Gabe, who stayed with her for a while).  They all tested them out thoroughly and the boxes worked beautifully.  They dramatically slowed down the rate of consumption which meant that the horses never had to go for long hours with nothing to eat.  There was absolutely no hay wasted and after a short introduction period, the horses actually seemed to prefer the boxes over eating loose hay off the ground.  I have spent quite a bit of time watching the horses eating out of these and it seems to mimic real grazing, which they like.  

If anybody would like to try building one of these and you need better pictures or exact dimensions, let me know.  I'll try to help.  I am also thinking about offering some of these for sale locally.  I don't think I can ship them so you would have to come here to get them.  Picking them up comes with the added bonus of getting to meet Ramsey and Emma.  I am asking $175 each.  If anyone is interested, let me know. 

10 comments:

  1. What a great feeder! I sent your link to a few horse and donkey friends.
    Leslie

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  2. Great idea, thanks for sharing! I will be looking in to these for my mules here in the UK :-)

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  3. They are wonderful!!!
    I'll need one,no posting? no meeting Enma & Ramsey for me? :(
    I'll have to find the time to built one,if consumption slows,it my be good for loosing weight (or ghost baby)

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    1. It does help with weight control and eases boredom. I am sure you can build one and if you ever do make it over here, stop by to visit:)

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  4. I love the feeder and of course all of your animals :) One question is do you put a whole bale of hay right in it or do you kind of break the hay up some? I am going to have my hubby build me one for sure so any info you can send me would be awesome. I have two horses and they waste alot of hay for sure. pbaldwincvpf@frontier.com

    Thanks,
    Priscilla

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  5. hi im attempting to make some for my horses,and was courious of what size wood you're using??if you remember the dimensions?? thank you,i love how yours turned out!

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    1. The runners on the bottom are treated 2x6's. everything else is rough cut 1x6 (that means a true one inch or six inch rather than the quarter to half inch less of finish lumber). Good luck building your boxes.

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  6. How are the boxes working out? I'm getting material together to make one and was wondering if the panels had any negative impact on their teeth. Thanks!!
    PS - thank you for the Magic Cushion 'review'. What a life saver to prevent stubborn thrush in the spring! :)

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