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!


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