Saturday, January 25, 2014

This is the hay feeder in use yesterday. That was the second day with this bale on it. It is down about a quarter today. I should get four or five days out of a bale with this system. The advantages are we built it largely with scraps that were around the farm. If you bought everything it would cost about $150 or about half the cost of a store bought hay feeder. Then, the cattle can move it. They load it by rolling the bale onto it and pull it into the pasture. It is a lot less work than trying to lift up one of the steel round bale feeders and move it over a roll. The drawing is rough, basically I just wanted people to see how I did it. I don't think anyone is going to want to slavishly copy my design. With the images here and on the last blog post you should have a good idea how to make one of these and I'll give any advice I can.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moving Hay

Our old hay feeders have fallen apart; a combination of age and really big cattle.  I decided this time I would make my own and combine the feeder with a sledge the oxen could move.  I built it last week, and today was the third time I have used it.  The first test run had a glitch.  The eye bolts were not strong enough.  So I bought some ½ inch eye bolts at the local hardware store and tried it again.  Sunday’s feeding went perfect.  We photographed today’s excursion just in case it would help anyone.

The sledge is eight feet long by five feet wide.  I used four 2”x12”x8’ for the runners bolted together in pairs. I looked at the old hay feeders and the barrier was two feet high. I thought this was a wise starting point to keep the cattle out of the hay. It worked. It is double ended with eye bolts at both ends so it can be pulled in either direction.  It has sideboards to keep the cattle from standing or lying in the hay. I also added eye bolts on the sides in case I wanted to tie a load onto the sledge.

 The way we use the feeder is to have two oxen take it to the hay yard, roll a bale on the sledge, pull it back to the pasture, I unhook them and we are done for a half week or so.

The process starts by calling George and William in to be yoked. The other cattle are supposed to stay out of the way, they don’t always.

The boys are awfully cooperative about  yoking and going to work.

Next I hook the chain to the sledge with clevises.

And I hitch the chain to the yoke using another clevis. I know we could use other systems, but I've never had a clevis fail.


With the boys hitched we open the gate and tell them to go.  They have no problem getting a five foot wide sledge through a six foot wide space. This shot also gives you a view of what the chain looks like without a lot of clutter.

The boys position the sledge next to a bale.

I unhook the chain.

Next I pull the sideboard off the sledge next to the bale.

I drive a barn spike into the bale,

And snag it with the grab hook of a logging chain.


The boys know exactly what they are doing and it takes minimum direction to get them lined up on the chain and bale.


We didn't get a good picture of it today but this is how we are hooked to the bale.

In a second or so it is up on the sledge.

I put the sideboard back on.


Pull the spike out and put it and the chain on the next bale.


Tell George and William to go to the other end of the sledge.

 Connect the chain and we head for the pasture.


Where, of course we are greeted by my starving cattle.


I unyoke the boys on the spot, giving each a good scratch and telling how good they did.  I put the yoke and chain away and we are done.  I think the only correction was telling William he could not munch grass once when he was waiting.  There were minimum commands and a lot of “Good!” The process took about fifteen minutes.