For the first time, this year we will be feeding round bales to the sheep. While there are benefits to this method, such as a constant supply of hay (free choice) to the animals and less frequent feeding by the farmer, it presents a new set of issues to be solved. The first was storage. Since we have no barns, we built the hay tent structure from 2X4s, tarp and heavy plastic. We had a few struggles with that, but I think we have it covered (pun intended) now. The second challenge was moving the bales. This involved purchasing a 'hay spear' to add to the tractor in order to pick up the bales and move them from place to place. Since I haven't learned to drive the tractor, this means less work for me. Thirdly, a feeder is needed to hold the bales for the sheep to eat. Round bale hay feeders can be purchased for 2 - 300 dollars at the local TSC or other farm stores, or, you can build your own. Since we've become 'do it yourself-ers' to save money (but not time) we decided to build our own. This being our first attempt I'm sure there will be improvements to this design, but for now we have a V shaped frame built from 2X4s and lined with 4X4 goat panel fencing. The fencing keeps the hay from falling through the feeder preventing waste. The sheep will have to work a little bit for their food, but it will be clean and last longer. This feeder cost about $50 and a couple of hours to build. We will be adding a cover to the hay structure to protect it from rain and snow. We are thinking about a tarp over a frame, yet to be done.
I'll let you know how that turns out. One round bale should last about 4 - 5 days, the equivalent of about 10 - 12 square bales of hay. We have 10 adult sheep, 11 lambs, 1 donkey and 3 boy goats eating on it. Square bales will go to the horses and the goats daily. I'm beginning to realize my free time consists of feeding and watering animals, especially now that winter is coming. The weather is still nice, so I'm not complaining....yet.
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My name is Christy Franklin.