DIY Horn Friendly Hay Manger for Nothing But the Cost of Nails

Winter had been knocking on our door for a while now.  With colder days moving in and a bounty of snow, that means it’s time for the animals to find a safe haven in the shelter of the barn.
That also means our goats will be dining indoors.  While we’re no stranger to goats, this is the first year we’ve had any four-legged friends with horns, and that posed a problem – we weren’t sure how to create a manger that they could eat from without getting their horns stuck
 It wasn’t long before he had a nearly no cost solution.  We got our horn friendly manger built for nothing but the cost of nails.
We have a small grove of young, Aspen trees on our property.  They range from 2-4 inches in diameter.
 My husband took a stroll in the woods, with his chainsaw in tow.  He cut about a handful of the Aspen trees down and, once on the ground, used the chainsaw to remove the limbs.
When he was done, he drug the new building material to the barn.

Once in the barn, it was time to kick this project into gear.  Jeff sectioned off two old tie stalls that would soon become our new horn-friendly hay manger.


Using some old 2 x 12 scrap wood found on the farm, he created a makeshift trough by fastening the wood across the bottom of the stall.



This ensured that the hay wouldn’t just fall right out of the bottom.An old grain bin top served as a slide for the hay.



Since the goats can’t reach all the way across to the other side, this keeps the hay constantly available to them.



It was easy to create this little slide by simply leaning the grain bin top against an unused fence post, as shown in the photo below.

Once that was done, Jeff nailed the cut Aspen trees to the tie stalls horizontally.  If you don’t have nails, or prefer not to use them, you can just tie the poles together.  Just be sure to use something that is chew resistant.  It’s important that the horizontal bars are close enough together to force the goats to have to turn their heads sideways to get them in the manger.  When they get their heads inside, they will naturally return them to the upright position and will generally keep them inside the manger, rather than turning their heads back sideways with a mouthful of hay to look around.  This will save lots of  hay from being dropped on the floor and wasted.

You can see some of our goats eating away at their little hay buffet without a problem.  It’s also a good idea to run one of the poles vertically, splitting the manger into two sections.  This will help the dominant goat from taking over the entire manger.
The reason that we chose to use Aspen is because it is a very fast growing wood and very sustainable if you manage it well.  You can continually harvest the same stand over and over again, every couple of years.  When dry, it’s also extremely hard, and the goats don’t seem to be able to chew through it.  They simply remove the bark, which is a good thing because it will help keep it from rotting.  An important thing to remember about building with Aspen is that it is not at all rot resistant, so it must be kept dry.  That means it’s best to be used indoors.