Let me tell you, trying to figure out the best way to feed our cute goats can be quite the challenge, am I right? Like us, they need their greens for good health, and hay is a massive part of their leafy buffet. But, oh boy, finding the perfect hay feeder feels like looking for a needle in a haystack, doesn’t it?
Whether you are just getting started with goats or your current hay feeder isn’t working out, I’ve shared all my own tips and plenty of options depending on your homestead.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the various hay feeder options for goats and their pros and cons. We’ll also include some DIY and free options.
How Many Hay Feeders Do You Need
If you are just starting out with goats, you probably only need one hay feeder, but even if you have a smaller herd like I do, you may need a couple more because you have one very bossy queen!
Our current herd is four does without horns and one doe with horns. Guess who gets their own hay feeder?
It doesn’t matter whether some of your goats have horns; there will always be dominant goats. And if you are wondering what breed of goat is a notorious hay waster? I swear it’s the Nigerian dwarfs!
All four of my does eat from one hay feeder, but any more than four, you will likely need another one. We use square bales when feeding hay because of storage space and eight goats. Round bales are a cost-effective option if you have a large herd.
Keep in mind happy goats waste hay no matter what feeder; what I’ve found over the years is not to overfeed them hay. When I feed them in the morning and evening and don’t fill the feeders up, they will eat more off the ground.
We all know hay costs aren’t going down anytime soon, so finding a feeder that minimizes waste is a win.
I’ve learned over the years if they are hungry, the best way to get them to eat that wasted hay off the ground is to give them less hay. For us, whatever is left in the winter months from my Nigerian Dwarf goats, I’ll scoop the hay off the ground and toss it over in the pig pen.
We have two sheep now with our dairy goats and they don’t mind eating off the ground, which may be changing the behavior of our goats as well.
Homesteading is constantly evaluating and seeing what works and adjusting, so keep that in mind when reading this post and any other homesteading posts. It’s always a generalized guide because every goat and herd can differ.
Best Goat Feeders Store-Bought Options
Metal Hay Rack Feeders
One easy-access option is a metal hay feeder. They are sturdy, durable, and hold up well even with larger goats or goats with horns intact. Metal feeders are a great investment as they last long and withstand the tough love of your goats.
I purchased both of my metal hay feeders at Tractor Supply. I’ve seen hay feeders at other local frame stores.
Of course, you can always purchase hay feeders on Amazon, but most of the time, if they don’t offer a discount it will cost you more. The best option for your budget is up to you.
You can see in our larger metal hay feeder most of the goats and sheep are eating from one feeder.
This isn’t the best at reducing hay waste.
Panel-Style Hay Feeders
Panel-style hay feeders are another popular choice among goat owners. These feeders are collapsible, making them ideal for use during winter months or when you need to move them around.
There is a pretty cute one at Tractor Supply that I feel like a handy person could create. Again, the size of these depends on your herd size and the size of your barn, enclosure, or pasture.
They are versatile and accommodate varying herd sizes.
All-in-One Hay and Grain Feeders
If you’re looking for convenience, consider an all-in-one hay and grain feeder. These feeders have a trough for hay and a separate compartment for pellets and other feeds.
A notable option in this category is the BUYYAH Hay Feeder Goat, a heavy-duty iron rack with a detachable grain tray.
Adjustable Grain Feeders
Adjustable grain feeders like the ones from DSLivestock.biz are a great way for small lambs and kids, as well as adult sheep and goats.
They are adjustable, meaning you can control the amount of grain dispensed, minimizing waste and overfeeding.
There was only one option for these at Tractor Supply, that could fall under a hay and grain feeder, too. It’s pricey!
If you’re on a tight budget, consider a hay net or hay basket. Texas Haynet offers small hay nets that are a great choice for goats and other small livestock. They are affordable and help maximize your hay supply and minimize waste.
This is a decent selection on Amazon for hay nets, too.
DIY hog panel feeder
If you’re a DIY enthusiast, the hog panel feeder can be an excellent option. You can make it by welding a few hog panels together.
This feeder is durable, easy to clean, and can hold a lot of hay. But it can take some time and effort to make.
Easy DIY Hay Feeder
If you’re not a fan of hog panels, there are other DIY hay feeder options for easy feeding available as well. You can use PVC pipes, old tires, or wooden pallets to make hanging goat hay feeders.
This DIY feeder is super cute and has a roof covering too!
These are low-cost feeders, but they may not be as durable as the commercial options.
Maybe you’ve scored a free or super cheap futon! Turn it into a hay feeder.
Pallet Hay Feeders
For those who love a good DIY project, consider making a hay feeder from old pallets. These feeders are inexpensive and easy to make. You can find numerous plans online to guide you through the process.
My husband used wood lying around and made our first hay feeder. It worked okay for our smaller goats; we used it for our older sheep and it was best for the sheep.
It didn’t allow them to stick their heads in for hay, which is an excellent choice if you have goats with horns.
Using Buckets and Old Tires for Hay
Using buckets and bins for hay is another option that works well for smaller herds. You can put the hay in a bucket or bin, and that’s it! This option is affordable, easy to maintain, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. But, it may not be suitable for larger herds.
I’ve seen people cut holes in the bottom of the blue cans for hay feeders. My husband got some of these from work and it’s perfect for the pasture.
I’ll do this when I have an older doe put into a birth pen. It works for only one of my does. The others will knock it right over.
Right now, our sheep and our bucks are eating out of an old tire. I laugh at how if I throw some hay down on the ground, the boys look at me like are you serious? But if I toss it into the tire they eat it right up.
And I mean, look at it, it’s empty without giving them much hay! I find bucks and wethers to be the easier to take care of. They are laid back compared to our female goats.
The list goes on and on. If you are looking for more DIY Hay Feeders, head on over here.
Choosing the right hay feeder for your goats can be a tough decision. But now that you know the options available, you can choose the one that works best for you and your herd.
Remember, each option has its own pros and cons, so weigh them carefully before making a decision. And, if you’re on a budget, don’t forget about the various DIY options available. So, happy goat feeding!