You might not be aware of this, but trash cans are very useful replacements if you don’t want to spend money on a more expensive goat feed trough, especially if you don’t have too many goats to feed, or if you are just getting started with this and you need to keep costs as low as possible.
Although we tend to think that garbage cans are items to put the trash in, this doesn’t mean that you cannot get a little creative and use them for other purposes as well. Farmers and animal owners have found various ways in which they can use these items, some including making feeders for animals.
Another major benefit of using trash cans as hay feeders is the fact that this approach significantly reduces food waste. Since it’s an affordable solution and adapting the item doesn’t take too much of your time, you can definitely give it a try and see if it works for your goats.
How to choose the trash can
For starters, you want to select a garbage can that is not too heavy since you will have to suspend it once it’s made. This way it won’t put too much weight pressure on the object or pole you will attach it to.
When you go to your local store to find the right can make sure it comes with a lid as well. Since some models are difficult to use for this particular purpose, you want to steer clear of those cans with a foot release that opens the top and of those that come with a flat lifting or swinging lid.
Moreover, you should establish what the right balance is between the weight of a can and its size, as well as the number of goats that are going to enjoy this new feeding facility. Most of the times, the average-sized can will do the trick. You can also think about installing more if you have a larger number of animals.
Once you have the can, it’s time to think about what other tools you are going to need next. The list includes a handheld drill, tape measure, a hole saw, a pencil, ties or wire, as well as hay, but you don’t need to worry about this until the feeder is done.
The great part about this solution is that it can be used for other types of animals as well, such as donkeys, pigs or horses. Of course, the height you attach the can at might differ, but you get the general idea.
Making the feeder
The first step after you’ve selected the right can is to take it and draw an arch (an upside-down U form) at the bottom of the trash can. You might also want to measure 2 inches from the bottom all around the can and draw a line, in order to use this line as the base of the arch.
This way, the can will be more durable and able to withstand strong animals pulling the hay out of it. Also in terms of the arches, these should be adapted to the size of the animal that is going to use it.
For horses, for example, the opening should be of about 15” by 15”. This way, they will be able to get their nose in, but without pulling all the hay out. When it comes to goats, the size should be around 8” by 6” for the same reasons.
Now that you have drawn the 2 inches from the bottom and the arch on the can, you can proceed to preparing the side that will be used to suspend the feeder from a pole or another item around the goats’ space. You can either drill or cut two holes on the backside of the can, also taking into consideration the diameter of the item it will be mounted on.
If it mounts to a board, you can drill the two holes at equal distances, no matter the size of the can, in order to securely attach it. Furthermore, you want to drill the holes closer to the top of the can so that the animals are not tempted to poke their noses around and on the wire mounts.
Then proceed to cutting the front arch as well, thus creating the opening through which the animals are going to pull the hay out. In order to mount it, you can pull wire or a bungee cord through the holes and around the structure it will be mounted on.
You can also use trees to get the job done, but make sure that they are sturdy enough so that the wire doesn’t harm the tree itself in any way, given that animals are going to pull the hay out and poke around the can.
Once you are done with all of the above, your new goat feeder is pretty much set. All that’s left to do is to add the hay inside and place the lid onto it since it protects against rain, sun, or other elements that might affect the quality of the food.
You’ll soon notice that you will waste less hay since animals can only pull out as much as they need to eat, while the food is also protected against rain or snow. Moreover, these cans are easy to maintain and sanitize throughout time, or if they do get damaged, they are easily replaceable.
In terms of mounting the can to the fixed object, you can attach it more loosely at first, as some goats get used to the feeder quicker this way. However, this is a matter of preference and of knowing what your animals like. The important thing to keep in mind is that they need to be as comfortable as possible using it.
In case you plan to feed multiple goats but you don’t want to purchase more cans, you can get a larger industrial waste can that is round. This allows you to cut more than one hole around and still hang it. According to experienced goat owners, you can fit around two bales of hay in one of these cans with hardly any waste.