Over the past few years I’ve designed a number of different barn mangers for the sheep. The first was a slot feeder where the hay leans forward and the animals pull it down to eat it. I found this method resulted in a lot of vegetable matter in their wool around the neck area and large amounts wasted as they always reached up for new feed rather than eating what was in front of them.
The next feeder had a backward lean to the hay so that the sheep had to pull it up and into a trough to access it. They were much more efficient with the feed with very little vegetable matter in their wool. The only trouble was the dominant girls would butt the others down the length of the trough and not allow them easy access. They were bullies.
So after considering my options I decided to use an “V” style system in front of the manger made out of 2 x 4’s that would limit the sheep’s ability to butt the one to either side. This worked great. Happy sheep, better sleep
It was finally time to build the new mangers in our permanent barn and using the previous 3 designs I came up with this.
After selecting your front two points you can then use Pythagoras to determine your other two corners and build a square structure. I highly recommend this approach, even if your not planning on drilling holes for a permanent structure.
With the holes drilled you can plumb your posts using some base material without the need for a whole bunch of cross bracing. It is only a manger after all.
Squared up the next part of the manger is the trough for the feed to sit in while the girls munch away. We notched ours around the posts to help prevent any additional feed get between the boards and land on the floor.
Down the long edge of the trough will be a 2×6 on edge. This will act as a “ridge beam” to provide support to the trough board and a flat space so that any small pieces can be easily consumed rather than falling into a “V”
Here we’ve finished siding and have placed our angled supports from the “ridge beam” to the back post. This bit of cross bracing really solidifies the structure.
The horizontal slats are in, this is what the hay will lean against and force the sheep to pull the hay forward/up instead of down.
Some horizontal 2×4’s and some vertical 1×2’s will create the hold back in the manger.
Here we have the finished product. With any luck this will be the last revision for the barn feeders.
One thing I did learn about this design is you don’t need post anchors to secure the base. These could be built with just posts and moved easily from one spot to the next. There is plenty of bracing and strength/weight of the structure to hold it in place.
For those of you who can’t go without an animal picture.