Pallet Hay Feeder for Goats

I spent another nap time whipping together a quick and easy pallet hay feeder for goats. Come meet the hay sleigh!

Our girl goats are absolute mischief makers who do not respect their electric fence. So despite what I’d prefer for them, they have spent the summer living in a small pen near the house. This pen was designed for just a buck and his buddy, so unfortunately the hay feeder is much too small for them.

I finally got around to wrangling up some pallets, an old sleigh left behind from the previous farm owners, and my cordless drill. The result was what I call the “hay sleigh”.

What makes a good goat feeder?

Goats are notorious for getting caught in things and knocking things around. They like to nibble, explore, and stand on just about everything. A good goat hay feeder has a few key qualities:

  • Elevated – More on that below
  • Holes big enough fo them to eat through
  • Openings small enough the hay doesn’t all fall through
  • Holes they can’t get their heads stuck in
  • No loose strings or dangly bits
  • Securely attached to a wall
  • Or it can’t be knocked over if they stand up on it with their front legs
  • No sharp edges

Why shouldn’t you feed goats on the ground?

One word: parasites.

Goats, like all ruminants, carry a certain amount of parasites in their guts regardless of how much you worm them. They get sick when the “parasite load” or amount of parasites in their gut, exceeds what sustainable for the goat.

Parasites are shed from the goats in their feces.

Feces are on the ground.

If their hay is on the ground, it is easier for the parasites to get on their hay and reconsumed by the goat, meaning they increase the amount of parasites in their system.

For more details on parasites and the benefits of rotational grazing check this out.

nubian goats rough and tumble farmhouse

What type of pallets should I use?

When making a pallet hay feeder for goats, especially a standalone one like I made, look for pallets that are the same size if possible. This just makes construction easier.

Consider the width of the gaps between pallets. They should be wide enough to pull the hay out but not so wide they can stick their whole head in there. That’s a recipe for a stuck goat.

Try to find a pallet that doesn’t have a lot of sharp edges or breaks on the outer boards. These can of course be sanded down or corrected.

Checklist for your Pallet Hay Feeder for Goats

As you construct your pallet hay feeder, go through this checklist before you let your goats have at it.

  • Is it Secure? – Push on it, pull on it, does it come loose at all?
  • Is it stable? – If the feeder is free standing, your goats are going to stand with their front legs on it. Will it tip over? Push on it from all directions.
  • Can they get their heads stuck? – Is there an opening big enough for their heads to get in but small enough they might get stuck in it? Think about your young goats with their little heads, to!
  • Are there any sharp edges? A nail sticking out, cracked board, etc. can be dangerous for goats

When you do let the goats start using their feeder, keep a close eye on them for a few days. When they first start using it observe any areas that could be dangerous for them and address the issue.

Don’t give your goats a new homemade feeder then disappear for a few days.

The Hay Sleigh

When I set out to make a new pallet hay feeder for goats, I knew I wanted a stand-alone feeder. I was mentally running through the options I had on the farm. I suddenly remembered an old sleigh of some kind left behind by the previous owners. The bottom board isn’t particularly sturdy but the frame is solid.

I liked the idea of being able to move the feeder after building it. Pallet construction is by its nature heavy, and this would allow us to move it around their pen or use it in different places on the farm.

hay sleigh rough and tumble farmhouse
Pregnant belly and all I can drag this thing easily.

Putting it Together

For this project I had the sleigh as a base, then used the following:

  • 2 Pallets
  • 2 6 foot 2×4’s
  • Exterior screws
  • Scrap pallet boards
  • Cordless Drill
  • Cordless Circular Saw
  • Fencing wire

The best way to see how I threw this thing together is to watch the video below.

Essentially I propped the two pallets inside the sleigh at an angle.

I braced across the two boards, then in the middle of each.

I screwed the bottom boards into the decking of the sleigh.

The fencing wire was used to anchor the sides more securely to the framework of the sleigh.

Finally, I used spare bits of 2×4 and pallet boards to fill in any gaps I thought the smaller goatsmight trap themselves in.

stand alone pallet goat feeder rough and tumble farmhouse

Making Improvements

There are a few things I’ll probably add or improve on the hay sleigh if we continue to use it.

Rain Protection

I’ll be adding a board across the top and securing two pieces of sheet metal on the top to make a hinged roof. This will protect the hay from moisture and allow me to still toss hay in the top.

One benefit of a drought yer I guess is it hasn’t been a real worry so far.

Side Opening

A negative of this simple design is that it’s difficult to remove hay from the bottom that gets built up. Goats are picky eaters and will leave a bunch behind. I’d like to remove some of the side boards and instead put another type of hinged door that I can open, then scrape out the old hay.

Paint

I’ve got eyes. I can see this thing is maybe a 2/10 in terms of looks. I think I might slap on some whitewash or similar just to spruce it up a little bit. Maybe get the frumpy thing up to a 4/10.

goat feeder from pallets rough and tumble farmhouse
I added a few more slats on the end after this photo to keep the little buggers from getting stuck.

Watch and Learn

I always like to give the disclaimer that my construction projects are half-baked at best. I have zero professional or other type of training in this, so it’s mostly me destroying drill bits and cursings under my breath. All the same, I ended up with a pallet hay feeder for goats that works pretty well.

Pin it for Later

pallet goat feeder rough and tumble farmhouse

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