Makeshift Hay Feeding Shelter

May 6, 2018

I have a couple fields for my ponies, including a dry lot. My husband and I built a makeshift hay shelter in it using crap we found around the farm.

Long ago the paddock was a pond, which has been dried out for years, but it still has an old pier that sticks out into the field. We have since extended a roof off of the pier that the ponies can stand under while eating.

Directly under the pier is perfect for a round bale. But it was a bit snug. So we dug out under the pier, creating an additional several feet of space for the hay and then we dug down some more to accommodate a pallet which we put down to create air flow under the hay. We then put some 2×4 bars up on one side and across the front to help keep the ponies from getting too into the hay. The neighbor delivers a round bale with his tractor and slides it into the space and then we put two 2x4s back up on that side, completely closing the bale in.

We also have three of my hay feeder barrels hung up. When the ponies drag out some hay from the round bale I fork it up and stuff it into the barrels to prevent waste. I usually do hay clean up about every three or four days and fill half a barrel to a full barrel depending on how far into the round bale they are.

I also have a bucket hung (low so Poe can’t crib on it) for loose minerals.

I don’t find that feeding round bales saves me that much money over feeding square bales. I do get good quality rounds, delivered one at a time when I need one. The ponies do get free choice this way, meaning they can eat all they want 24/7. When I feed squares I usually put out a half bale in the morning and a half bale in the evening, in the barrels to slow them down. They usually gorge (Simon in particular) until it’s gone then wait until the next feeding to gorge again. With the round bale they seem to eat more leisurely throughout the day. They probably do eat more with the round but I like that they eat more slowly.

The big difference is the time it saves me. Instead of dragging hay from the hay shed to the field and then loading the barrels twice a day, I meet they hay guy once every two to three weeks for a delivery, and spend a few minutes every three or four days forking some loose hay from the ground into the barrels. It’s much easier.

My ponies also tend to be mischievous and destructive when they get bored. With a round bale I don’t have to worry about running late with dinner. They always have hay.

This leaves my remaining feeding routine to clean and fill water about once a week and putting a cup of feed in each of their pans in the evenings. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. I am all about keeping things as simple as possible.

So while my hay feeding shelter isn’t much to look at, meaning it’s a total eye sore, it didn’t cost a penny to put together, and we plan to add to the roof a bit more still, which might be obvious. It’s in a dried out pond that is completely out of view from all directions. Its an eye sore to itself. But it is functional, and did I mention it was free?

So here is a glimpse inside of my dry-lot hay-shelter eye-sore.

I did not initially take these photos with the plan to use them on my blog or share them widely. So this was before I did my regular clean up.

I took these photos to show a friend how much digging I had been doing. And also how the pallet and round bale set up was working out. We did have round bales going in there without the pallet which was fine in the colder winter weather but with the warmer weather coming in the moisture was soaking up into the bales.

The above photos are without a round bale in the space so you can see how the round bale fits. This was also right after some wet weather so it was wet and a bit muddy.

This is the side the bale gets put in from.

We screw those two boards back in after the bale is in.

I had already loaded some hay into the white barrel there.

And you can see the mineral bucket hung on the post.

The photos with the bale were taken the day after the no bale photos. You can see how quickly it dried out. It does get wet in this field, but I am extremely lucky in the mud department.

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