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|DO IT YOURSELF GOAT FEEDER (For Square Bales)||
Are you still feeding your goats on the ground, letting them waste that valuable hay all the while ingesting whatever worm eggs, diseases and infections that may be present? Well here is a very good and inexpensive goat feeder that you can build in less than a day for under $25 in most circumstances!
I know that many of you, men and women alike have a hard time building things. The way I have designed this feeder and drafted the plans should have you easily tackling and completing the job in no time at all. I will begin by saying that no, this isn't the "New Yankee Workshop" or "This Old House" and I'm not Norm Abrams, but if I can do this, so can you.
The first consideration is a bill of materials and tools that you will need to begin this simple project:
Go to your local lumber yard and purchase eight (8) 2" x 4" "economy studs" for less than $1.50 each. Here I refer to an economy stud that is just short of 8 feet. That is, a stud that is 92-1/2" in length. Just for a quick reference, if you want to purchase full 8 foot studs at a little higher price, by all means do so. But please keep in mind that my plans have been drafted for the 92 - 1/2" stud lengths. You'll need some other hardware items as well so I will make you a reference list below.
A few things you should have on hand at home are: a good pair of safety glasses, a straight edge ruler, an electrical extension cord, a couple of sharpened #2 pencils and a good flat, open working surface where you can make saw cuts without endangering yourself, others or anything else in the way. Be smart and have a clean work area. Safety first!!
The pieces are broken down into the following sizes and the number of pieces you will need: (see Figure 1A)
#1 - 2"x4" Mark and cut: 1 - 40" piece; 1 - 24" piece; 1 - 22" piece.
#5 - 2"x4" Mark and cut: 1 - 14" piece; 3 - 25" pieces (cut the 14" piece first!)
Now that you have made all your saw cuts, you are ready to begin construction of your goat feeder. You will want to refer to Figure 1A for exact placement of your wood pieces. Taking two of the 40" pieces and two of the 22" pieces, set each of the 22" pieces upright on a flat surface and place one 40" piece on top of the pieces, balancing it so it will stand by itself. Now you want to get out your nails and mate flush, one end of the 40" board to one of the upright 22" pieces. Strike a nail in the corner of the 40" piece, making sure to not hammer hard enough to lose the balance of the boards. This is perhaps the most difficult of all the nailing you will do. Tip - have an assistant hold the pieces in place for you while you hammer.
I personally put a nail in each top corner of the 40" piece - 4 nails total, 2 per side. Once you have both sides nailed, then take one of your larger 3 to 4" sinker nails and drive it between the two nails on each end. This will give the pieces more rigidity in the longrun. Flip the joined pieces over and perform the same steps with the next 40" piece. This finishes the first feeder frame component. Using the next pieces (2 - 40", 2 - 22"), perform the same procedure as outlined above. You should now have two separate feeder frames as seen in Figure 2A.
PUTTING ON THE LEGS
Stand up one of the two (2) pieces you just constructed so that it is situated laying on the 40" long plane (see Figure 3A). Take one of the 14" pieces and hold it flush to the top right hand corner where the 40" and 22" boards are joined. (You may want to use a C-Clamp to clamp the 14" leg to the 40" board). Using your drill and 1/4-20 drill bit, drill a hole through the 40" board, passing through the 14" board in the bolt pattern seen in Figure 3A. Put a washer on a 3" bolt and place it through the drilled hole. Put a washer on the end of the protruding bolt and tighten a nut to it. It is best to go ahead and tighten the bolt at this point making sure that the 14" leg is sitting flush to the 40" board and the 22" cross piece. Drill the remaining hole and proceed as specified above. Perform the same procedure on the top left hand corner. For the remaining two (2) legs, you will need to flip the frame and block the added legs (as seen in Figure 3A) to balance the frame. Proceed with drilling as specified above.
Next, locate the center point of the horizontal 40" board and scribe a mark. You will want to place the remaining 25" piece dead center between the left and right 25" pieces (see Figure 6A). This completes the section of the feeder that will hold the hay bale.
Now you will want to turn the feeder on its side again in the same manner as when you put on the 14" legs. Make the first 24" piece flush with the side of the 14" leg and nail in place. Repeat this procedure for the opposite sides. Then, place two more 24" boards between the three (3) upright 25" pieces - you can eyeball these to sit near center (see Figure 7A). You will want to repeat this procedure for both sides.
This pretty much completes the front and back of the feeder and now all that is left to do is the sides and an optional top. Refer back to Figure 1 to see the sides. You should have 4 - 24" pieces left at this point and what you will want to do is to nail the remaining upright side pieces in place, using a block width as a spacer tool from the right and left corners of the feeder. The section between the two uprights will be about a block and a half width - you can adjust this accordingly if you wish. I just found it easier to use the leftover block method for a spacer. Looks neater too!
A FEW OPTIONS
You may be wondering about a roof or cover for this hay feeder. Certainly a good idea and there are several ways to go about it. One can simply take a piece of utility plywood and cut it the length and width of the feeder top. Add a few hinges and a handle and you've covered your hay! Well, in my case, it was using an item my wife brought home (See Figure 8a). It was a plastic culvert pipe halve and let me tell you, these are not cheap. They will run anyway from $15 - $30 but will definitely keep the rain out. So you can easily see that a simple $25 feeder turns into a $50 hay feeder with just one piece!
Painting the feeder - I'm not sure it's a good idea but you can if you want. If you live in an area that receives alot of rainfall, I'd definitely consider painting the feeder. Select a good quality wood primer and spray/paint the entire feeder first. Then, once the feeder has dried, select a high quality finish coat and spray/paint the entire feeder. I'm not certain if lead based paints are still available, but I'd double check to make sure the paint you select contains no lead.
Better yet, you may want to consider staining the entire feeder with a high quality varethane finish. I'm not certain if there are any finish ingredients that may lead to poisoning if gnawed on by goats so this is just a consideration. You'll notice that I left our feeders unpainted and unfinished. My thoughts are that these feeder are so easy and inexpensive to build - it's not worth the hassle of painting. I'll simply replace the wood pieces that may deteriorate with time and weathering.
Another consideration that I myself may incorporate into future feeders is using "all bolt" construction. Of course this adds the expense of extra hardware but I prefer to build just about everything using this method. Nails are great for some things, but bolts make life alot easier - especially if you plan to refurbish from time to time. Bolts make this much, much easier.
CLOSING COMMENTS FROM READERS/BUILDERS
|About the author: Gary Pfalzbot is the webmaster of GoatWorld. He has raised goats over the years, been involved with 4-H (as a young boy) and currently resides near Branson, Missouri where he and his wife Pam raise a few breeds of goats, mainly precipitated for the control of Kudzu vine.|
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