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Round bales in pasture ready to be picked up and used in hay feeders.

Hay Feeders

Hay feeders come in several varieties for livestock and horses on your backyard ranch. There are some for stalls, trailers, pens and pasture. Also, for square bales or round bales. There are also differences between livestock hay feeders and horse hay feeders. Hay feeders can be made from plastic or metal.

Hay Feeders Made Using Barrels

Hay feeders for horses are sometimes made from plastic pipe, plastic barrels or metal. A plastic barrel with the top and half the side cut out, leaving the bottom, makes a very handy hay and grain feeder for barn stalls. They typically come with some bars in the front to hold the hay in, yet large enough for a horse to get its' muzzle into.
Hay feeders made with barrels on the bottom that hold square bales. Hay feeders can be made from metal barrels and work well as long as the edges are sanded down. A metal barrel split in half lengthwise then welded together at one side add four legs welded on the bottom four corners of the barrel. Also, bars welded into a large v-shaped grate welded to the barrels at the middle seam. This type of feeder makes a handy pasture feeder or dry lot feeder. The barrels catch the loose hay and can also be used for grain.

Left is a hay feeder used best with square bales.

Homemade hay feeder made out of reclaimed 50 gallon plastic barrel. Hay feeders can also be made from reclaimed plastic barrels. Like the one on the left. The top lid of the barrel is cut away so hay can be put in. Short screws hold the bars in place above and below. Make sure that the bars are wide enough apart that the horse can get to the hay, but not too wide so that the horse would stick his head all the way between them.

The side is cut away to allow access to the hay, leaving the bottom intact to catch the excess hay and the tender leaves. It can also be used for grain. I drilled a couple of holes in the bottom so water can drain (when it is used outside).

We use this hay feeder as an extra, portable hay feeder. We put a couple of eye screws into each side and used small cable between so that it can be hung over a post like this outside or hung inside in a stall in the barn.

This type of hay feeder works well to flake out square bales or round bales. You also have control over how much hay can be consumed. We have used this in the past to monitor how much hay a horse is being given.

Hay Feeders In A Trailer

To feed ranch horses hay in a trailer, there are hanging square bale hay bags or plastic bale feeders like a Health EZ Hay Feeder that can be stuffed full and hang up off the floor. If the hay were in the manure and allowed to stay on the wet floor, the horse would not eat it. The hay would just get spread around and increase the smell and the chance of mold on the trailer floor.

Hay Feeders In A Pen Or Pasture

Round bale hay feeders for ranch horses usually do not have a rail around the top. Horses like the hay in the center of the round bales more than the weathered edges. If fed in a livestock round bale feeder, a ranch horse could get its' head stuck in between the top and bottom rails if the hay bale collapses as they eat out the middle part of the bale. Also, they will rub a part of their mane off from eating out of a livestock round bale feeder. The picture on the left below is a round bale feeder for ranch horses:

Hay feeders can be designed like this metal round bale feeder just for horses. Hay feeders can be designed like this round bale feeder made for cattle. Hay feeders for round bales can also be made out of black pvc pipe.
Metal round bale feeder for horses. Metal round bale feeder for cattle. Plastic pipe round bale feeder for cattle.

The pictures above in the middle and on the right show round bale hay feeders for livestock have a top and a bottom rail. Cattle will eat a good part of the outside of the round bale as well as the inside. There are many more types of hay feeders for round bales, big square bales and small square bales. Some are designed so that there is much less waste of the hay than these pictured types of hay feeders.

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