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Hay feeder

Hay feeder

Feed us!  (please)
Grain feeder 

 Outside creep feeder
Outside creep feeder

 Covered feed bunk
Covered feed bunk

Fenceline feeder
Feeding along fenceline

New automatic waterer
Automatic waterers

Water trough
Water tank



Feeding and watering equipment

Feeding equipment

Feeders are a necessity for almost all livestock enterprises. Feeding on the ground results in considerable feed wastage and contributes to the spread of disease, especially internal parasites and abortion. If sheep are able to stand in their feed or feeders, they may defecate and/or urinate in the feed. Feeders need to be raised off the ground and constructed in such a way to keep sheep and lambs out (as much as possible).

There are various designs for grain feeders. V-shaped feeders are easier to clean than feeders with square bottoms. Rubber or metal pans are useful for hand feeding small numbers of animals. Feeders that can be hung on the side of the fence, then removed after the sheep/lambs have finished eating, are especially effective. Some producers have constructed fence line feeders from PVC pipe.

Hay can be fed in bunks or racks or along a fence line. V-shaped racks with vertical or diagonal slats work best. Round hay bales should be fed in feeders with movable sides or an overhead rack. There should be enough feeder space for all sheep and/or lambs to eat at once. Ewes require approximately 16 linear inches of feeder space. Lambs require 12 inches of feeder space. Less feeder space is needed if animals are self-fed rations: 8 to 12 inches for ewes and 2 to 4 inches for lambs.

Minerals can be incorporated into the ration or offered free choice, preferably in a loose form. Commercial mineral feeders are available from farm supply stores and sheep equipment manufacturers. Mineral feeders can be made from tires, PVC pipe, and plastic garbage cans. If fed outside, a lid is needed to keep minerals dry. Building plans for feeders may be available at many county extension offices.


Recommended feeder space for sheep and lambs

.
Ram
Dry ewe
Ewes with lambs
Lambs
.
180-300 lbs.
150-200 lbs.
with 5-30 lb. lambs
30-110 lbs.
Limit-fed
12 in.
16-20 in.
16-20 in.
9-12 in.
Self-fed
6 in.
4-6 in.
6-8 in.
1-2 in.
Creep
.
.
2 in. per lamb
.

Source: Midwest Plan Service, Sheep Housing and Equipment Handbook, 1982.


Watering systems

Clean, fresh water is a daily necessity for sheep and lambs. Sheep will consume anywhere from ½ to 4 gallons of water per day, depending upon their physiological state, the content of water in their feed, and environmental conditions. Requirements increase greatly during late gestation and lactation. Water intake is positively correlated to feed intake.

Water can be free flowing or provided in buckets, troughs, tubs, stock tanks or automatic waterers. It goes without saying that water sources should be kept clean and free from hay, straw, and fecal matter. Smaller troughs are easier to drain and clean. Water will be more readily consumed during cold weather if the water is ice-free and during hot, humid weather if the water source is in the shade.

Sheep prefer to drink still water as opposed to water from a moving stream. It is generally recommended that streams be fenced off and that livestock not be allowed to drink from natural water sources. Giving livestock access to stream bank areas may cause environmental problems, though sheep are more desirable for grazing riparian areas than larger livestock.

Sometimes, sheep will seem to drink very little water. This is probably because they are consuming feeds or forages that are sufficiently high in moisture content. As the grass gets drier or their diet gets drier, they will consume more water.

Recommended watering space for sheep and lambs

.
Ram
Dry ewe
Ewes with lambs
Lambs
.
180-300 lbs.
150-200 lbs.
with 5-30 lb. lambs
30-110 lbs.
Bowl
10 hd
40-50
40-50
50-75
Nipple
10
40-50
40-50
50-75
Tank
2
15-25
15-25
25-40
Source: Midwest Plan Service, Sheep Housing and Equipment Handbook, 1982.


Feed Storage


All feedstuffs –-hay, grain, salt, and minerals-– need to be kept dry and protected from rodents and other pests. Feed must be accessible in all weather conditions, but inaccessible to livestock. Many livestock deaths have resulted when livestock gain free choice access to grain or similar feedstuffs. Ample feed storage can result in considerable cost savings if feed ingredients can be purchased and stored in bulk on the farm.

Unprotected hay deteriorates in quality. Hay should not be left uncovered. Hay bales should be stored in hay lofts, storage sheds, or covered with tarps if stored outside. Hay and straw bales should not be placed in a barn unless they are thoroughly dry; otherwise there is risk of overheating and fire. Hay should not be placed directly on the ground or it will mold on the bottom of the bales.

A bulk grain bin is a good investment, even for a small producer. It enables the producer to accept bulk deliveries of grain or purchase commodities directly from grain producers or dealers at farm gate prices. Salt and minerals and smaller amounts of grain can be stored in barrels, garbage cans, or old freezers/refrigerators or stored on pallets.


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Late updated 29-May-2011 by Susan Schoenian.
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