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Which Type Of Livestock Feeder Should I Choose?

Jan 21, 2020Blog0 comments

One of the problems that farmers face today is the increased cost of animal feed for their livestock. Because this feed has become so costly, it is vital to ensure that there is limited feed loss. A simple method for feeding livestock feed has been simply placing it on the ground, but this method will result in maximum loss of feed to the farmer. Using a livestock feeder is an ideal option.

By pouring your grain and pellet feed on the ground for your animals to eat, you could experience a thirty percent loss caused by wind, rain, and livestock walking and laying on it. 

You should consider investing in a livestock feeder to protect your feed from potential loss or damage. Feed throughs, self-feeders and hay rings range from relatively inexpensive to expensive. There is a trade-off between the cost of the feeder vs the loss of feed or manpower saved. Usually, these feeders pay for themselves in a relatively short time period. As every farmer or feedlot owner’s situation is different it is important to choose feeders that suits your unique situation. 

Choosing the right livestock feeder for your cattle or sheep can be difficult if you do not know where to start. Below is some helpful information for choosing the right livestock feeder for your animals. 


Hay Feeders


Hay feeders are a popular choice of livestock feeder for those who use hay as part of their livestock’s diet. They offer protection from wind as well as from animal hooves and bodies. These livestock feeders are available in the shape of the hay bale for ease of use. 

A round bale ring is best suited for the round bale. A round bale feeder includes a feed bin to catch hay and keep it safely in the feeding bin. Single small bale feeders have a catchment bin and are a good choice for smaller herds, making them an ideal choice for smaller farms. For those wanting an easy-to-use livestock feeder, big pack bale panels are designed for very large big pack bales. These panels are easy to erect and save manpower when moving bales to the herds. Lastly, the new bale cradle is designed to simply roll in a round bale and also saves manpower.


Open Feed Troughs


Using open feed troughs is a good start for any farmer as a livestock feeder. These are an ideal option for sheep and cattle. The troughs keep the feed off of the ground, helping to prevent moisture and mould from reaching the feed and protects against wind. 

Open feed troughs are ideally long and narrow to allow for optimal animal headspace, as well as to stop the animals from climbing into the trough while eating. The type of feed that is best kept in a trough includes pellets, grain, manufactured feed, and chopped hay. If you live in a particularly windy area, an open feed trough provides reasonable protection from wind. 


Hybrid Feeders


Hybrid livestock feeders are a combination of a hay bale and feed trough feeder. These feeders have a top section which contains the hay as well as a trough section that allows sheep to eat grain and chopped feed out of easily. They are a smart choice for any farmer as they offer feeding solutions for any type of supplementary feed. They are also robust and can be moved around easily. Platbak feeders are an example of a hybrid feeder.

These hybrid feeders offer protection from all elements except for the rain. It might be a good idea to move these livestock feeders under shelter during rainier months. Wet animal feed can become mouldy or even turn toxic to animals. 


Self-feeding Options


A self-feeding option is the most expensive, but also the most effective in protecting feed and saving costs. Self-feeders consist of a weathertight storage bin, which feeds into a feeding bin and the animals feed from the feeding bin. As the food levels drop in the feeding bin, the feed gravitates from the storage bin and keeps the feeding bin filled. 

They are a popular choice among feedlot owners and farmers, as they allow for protection from all elements, including rain. Ensuring that the feed is kept dry and out of the elements extends the longevity of the feed. Self-feeding options allow for maximised feed utilisation, as the animals can feed themselves, minimising the effort and manpower needed from farmers. 

Self-feeders, like the M Type Self-Feeders, can be used for pellets, grain, or chopped feed. Farmers will also not need to fill these troughs every day as the storage bins contain enough feed for a number of days, depending on the size of the herd. A self-feeder can be used for sheep, cattle pigs and ostriches, with the cattle feeder being a much larger option in order to feed larger animals and herds. 


Consider Your Animals


When it comes to choosing a livestock feeder, one of the most important considerations is that it is made specifically for your animals. What works for one type of animal will not necessarily work for another, which is a vital aspect to remember. 

Choosing a feeder that is animal-specific will also help with preventing feed loss, as the animals will be able to eat properly without spilling or wasting feed. If you are looking for the right livestock feeder for your needs, feel free to contact Van Schoor Gate today to find out how we can help you.