Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feeders and Water for Goats

Just in case you don't already know this... goats are very curious! They like to use their head for testing stuff, moving things around, and who knows what else. And they climb. A LOT. Standing on their back legs, jumping up on things, head butting... they're just a lot of fun to watch. Such a happy animal!



So I've learned that I don't wear my good clothes in their pen and never have anything that's dangling down that might be fodder for chewing. That would include jacket drawstrings, apron ties, long skirts,... things like that. 

I've also learned that they need a good sturdy feeder because they ARE going to climb on it. And they need something for water that they can't knock over, because they will find it oh-so-fun to do so. 

The first few weeks after the trio arrived on our homestead, we just made do by using a bucket and filling it often and making a feeder from extra pieces of wire cut from hog panels which we attached to the fence. But it was temporary at best. 

So I did a little research on the internet to see what others were using as feeders. Having been mentored by a friend on goat care, I knew they do not like to eat hay that has fallen on the ground (my they're picky!), so it needed to have some kind of tray to catch most of what gets knocked around and eventually to the floor. I was surprised to see so few had something like this. And even fewer from suppliers. I visited every local store that might possibly sell feeders and still... I couldn't find just the right thing. Which meant making our own feeder.



I gave my husband a picture of what I wanted and he made a feeder out of scrap wood from around the garage. I think it only cost us $12 for some dowel rods. It was large enough to hold two flakes of hay along with a tray on the bottom to catch the stuff that gets knocked out, dropped, or just left over. You can see it works well and is popular with the goats.








We hung it on the wall, but made sure it was resting on a 2 x 4 that was nailed to the back wall. Also, we added sturdy legs in front. The goats can climb all over and it doesn't budge a bit. Seems like we're not using as much hay either, since it catches what they drop. Hopefully this will save us some money in the long run.


For watering, we purchased a wall bracket that has a lip on the back side for holding a bucket. To make it even more secure, there is a pin that holds the handle up and supports some of the weight. Both of these use the weight of the water in the bucket to help hold it firmly in place. It's been working perfectly! No more buckets being knocked over.




Finally, I picked up a mineral feeder at Hoegger's. If you're thinking of getting goats, you need a Hoegger catalog! Funny how the books and catalogs by my bedside table have changed!



I admit, I'm totally a novice at raising goats. And I know there is "more than one way to skin a cat", so I'm sure readers would like to know how others have solved their feeder and water issues for their goats. What seems simple and obvious to someone who has raised goats for a while is like a foreign language to those who haven't stepped into the water yet. So please share your thoughts and ideas!








32 comments:

  1. We are about to get our goats. We are looking towards spring and we are very excited. Hubby has everything built and ready. Now we just need the goats!

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  2. Funny you should mention goats and buckets today . . . just yesterday, my alpine whether somehow got a water bucket handle stuck over his horns, head and left front leg. You can imagine the sight when I came to feed them in the morning! Unfortunately, he has been limping ever since, and I am afraid he must have hurt his leg in the process. I checked on the "Fiasco Farm" blog (do you know that one? it's a great source for goatkeepers!) - and it mentioned I could give a dose of ibuprofen. I did that, and will be monitoring again today. Fingers crossed - and no more buckets with large handles (I had been using the plastic icing buckets I got for free from the local bakery - - - thought I was being so clever and frugal, but apparently not).

    - Kate in NY

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  3. I love your feeder. I don't know that I will need it but I am keeping this pic. for reference. We use a similar hook system for our buckets too. We use buckets to feed our milk cow and have a huge waterer on the ground to water the chickens, pigs, cow, and sheep.

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  4. I was looking around blogland and found your interesting blog. You are living the life that I wish I could live. I adore animals of almost any kind ( no reptiles ) and would love having a place to have many. I don't know anything about goats so I'm no help but they sure are cute. I would love to have you show these little cuties at my Cozy Your Home Party going on now until Thurs. night. We have had a few number of animals shown and would be happy to have yours. Join us if you can. I will return again to learn more about your fascinating farm life.------
    Shannon

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  5. That feeder is a great idea Amy! I am laughing at yor bedside reading material because mine is the same....Storey's Guide to Dairy Goats, Storey's Guide to Chickens, Country Living Mag and English Home and Garden. Wide range of interests...Oh what a difference a few years make!
    xoxo
    Caroline

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  6. Thank you for the clever ideas...I'm adding them to my notebook for "someday!"

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  7. I use 2 keyhole feeders that were giving to me when I bought Tulip & Star... I like em. I also put alittle hay in a bucket for my sweet Ellie Mae, sometimes the bigger girls like to push her away from the keyhole feeders til they get their bellies full. I just use a bucket for their water in the barn, I like the idea of it hanging on the wall. I also need to get me a mineral feeder that hangs on the wall. I'm still new to having goats, learnin as I go... just got all 4 of mine this past summer/fall, got Ringo (my buckling) the night he was born, 3 weeks ago. Jumped right into milkin (never milked anything a day in my life, til I got my Kinder Dairy Goats)& breedin em, Tulip & Star are both due in May. I'm lovin it & yep never wear ya good cloths in the barnyard, lol... I stay dirty ;)

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  8. My goats used to like chewing on my fingers. But be careful they don't get them between their back teeth! They have very sharp teeth and powerful jaws!

    Those are wonderful ideas. I don't have goats now, but when I did I made feeders for pellets and roots from square liquid laundry detergent jugs and mineral feeders from PVC pipe. I never did find a good watering system though...

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  9. Don't you love a handy husband? Love your pictures (always). What kind of camera do you use? I need a new one. Thanks

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    1. Julie, thanks for the compliment on my pics. I saved a VERY long time to purchase a Canon 50D and I use both iPhoto and Photoshop Elements 8 for touchups, coloring, etc. I'm even more of a novice at photography than goats - I just don't get a lot of the technical aspects (which is definitely a foreign language to me) and I wing it most of the time; adjusting until I get what I like.

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  10. Amy, your husband is a handy guy! I love the feeder!

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  11. Oh Amy, I forgot to tell you..a long time ago we had goats for a year, the place we lived had a mini barn. Daniel cut a small hole (big enough for the goats head) in the gate, and then strapped the bucket with a the bungee cord system on the outside of the goats gate door. It work out perfect! The goats had to stick their head thru the hole, and the water never got dirty. Plus it was easy to change the water. Hope this helps :)

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    1. That's a great idea, Abby Jo. I might give that a try. I've got extra buckets around here so it wouldn't cost a thing.

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  12. Our feeder is very similar to yours. My father-in-law made it for us for Christmas 2010, based on the feeders his family had when he was growing up (on a farm). It works really well. Our goats are Nubians, so our feeder is higher up than yours and quite a bit bigger; ours wouldn't work for smaller goats. The design is the same idea, though. Overall we have been very happy with it. The only thing that really bothers me is, I want the goats to eat the hay from the tray in front...but they really don't eat that hay much at all. Instead, one of our smaller does climbs up into the tray area, and it gets kicked out, and now they use expensive alfalfa hay as their bedding. Goats are so wasteful. So, if we were designing a feeder, I would make the tray narrower. But otherwise it is a great system.

    For water, we used to use buckets that hang over the edge of our fence, but they got knocked over a lot. Then we switched to a bucket like the one you have, and we hung it from a bungee cord, attached to the side of the fence. That worked pretty well, but once we had more goats it seemed like it needed to be refilled a lot. Now, we have a very small pond, which is pretty similar to a small stock tank, and we don't have to fill it nearly as often as the buckets. Although the water does tend to get dirty sometimes, since the pond is almost flush with the ground.

    We buy the big blocks of minerals, so our mineral feeder is just a small plastic thing which does nothing but keep the block off the ground.

    Looks like your goat project is working out really well! Good job!

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    1. Emily,
      Funny you should mention that about the tray being smaller. My husband and I talked about that before we put it up. He said it would be easy to cut down to size if necessary, so I'll be watching to see if they are up to trouble, kicking it to the floor!

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  13. I LOVE your hay rack, and am saving the picture for my husband, but I won't be showing it to him for a while. When the "honey do" list gets too long, he gets sort of testy, I have no idea why! ;) I think you've gotten some wonderful choices that will make raising goats so much easier, and more fun. They're very special animals, but have their challenges.

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  14. It's funny that people think goats eat anything. Mine won't even eat the hay if it has gotten wet from the rain. The feeder looks great! Bet they are happy goats!

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  15. Hay Amy...

    I am loving your breed, and I want some. I have contact a breeder in NM and hopefully by May we will have some babies! I am so excited...!

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  16. Excellent Enid!! I think you'll be very pleased!

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  17. This is very helpful. Now if we ever get some goats!

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  18. We used to use feeders like yours and still do when the weather is nasty, but we have too many goats now for everyone to be inside all the time. Now we put a pallet down outside and set a big round bale on it with a cattle panel wrapped tightly around it. They waste some hay when they start a new bale, but they stick their heads through the openings and eat holes into the center of the bale. After they get started on a bale they don't seem to waste much. If the weather is going to be nasty out we just put a tarp over the hay bale and feed inside.

    For our mineral feeder we bought a plain trough mineral feeder and my husband cut an old tire and laid it flat on top. He then bolted it to the wall above the feeder to form a flap over the top of it. The goats lift it up with their noses and eat and when they are done it falls back into place. No more goat pellets in the mineral!

    I am so glad your goats are working out good for you. It looks like you are getting things set up really nice.

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  19. I am extremely familiar with goats and their antics. I was in charge of the goats when I was growing up. Looks like you may have found some solutions to their ability to get into trouble. Good luck. It is hard to keep a step ahead of them.

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  20. Those are some fabulous and cute goat pictures! Yes, goats ARE curious.... we know that well. Our curious little Pygmy is very pet-like, too. Thanks for the great goat photos.

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  21. I think goats are such sweet animals. My mother rented a few over the summer to eat down her back pasture and we just loved them! It was a mama and two babies. My nieces and nephews had the best time petting them, feeding them corn cobs, talking to them. And the goats were so good natured about it. I think my husband and I will probably get some goats once we buy a house.

    I also love the feeder you guys came up with. Very smart.

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  22. I really love your pics here! Great job on the feeder design! Your blog isa blessing as always!

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  23. Your goats are really cute. What are there names? This is totally random, but the store where i buy my raw milk, also sells raw goat's milk. It's fabulous!!! Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

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  24. Hi Amy, I am fairly new to your site. We also have goats. We love them. My husband built two feeders for our goats simialr to yours. We have 3 does and 1 buckling. We built two feeders because there is always one that seems to get pushed out. The tray on our feeders are narrow and even at that the babies find them to be very comfortable to nap in. They do work very well. We have an automatic waterer for our goat, that way they can't spill or get it dirty, just use a new toilet brush to clean it out every once in a while. We have the mineral feeder also, they use it quite a lot. You can build them out of PVC if you want. You might want to consider getting a bicarb feeder as well, this has been a life saver for us, the goats can get to it when they need it. We have also put out a salt lick for them. We have had our goats going on 4 years and really love them. Good luck with yours. By the way, the milk is great for making cheese and butter also.

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  25. Hi Amy, I just found your blog. I like it. I wanted to comment on the feeder. I like the looks of it and might do something similar. The thing I wanted to comment on and maybe it is a mute point. My experience is the kid goats will try to get in the main hay compartment. I think the front "table" portion stick out far enough to where they can jump up on it and then jump into that main compartment. It could result in some leg problems. Just something to consider and keep an eye on.
    Thanks for another great blog!

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    1. Oh, my. I hadn't thought about that. Thanks for the warning... I'll be watching for them climbing inside of it.

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  26. LOVE,LOVE,LOVE the hay feeder! Thanks for the awesome idea. Ive been looking for an easy to make feeder with a bottom tray for fallen leaves. Good Job!

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  27. Hej from Sweden !
    I love your hay rack! Looks great ! We have been battling with the hay on the groud thing for far too long.I have to show my husband! I really like what I have seen of your site and will come back for a real good read!
    I have goats also here in Sweden. Welcome to my blog:

    http://gullringstorpgoatsblog.wordpress.com

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  28. For us Goat Ladies that would like to build this hay feeder by ourselves (no handy hubby to do it for us), please provide the dimensions.
    I can build most things but I need instructions to do.....lol

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