Hay Feeder Options For Goats

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Know the options for feeding hay to your goats so you can choose the best setup for you and your herd. This list of goat hay feeder options will give the pros and cons, along with some DIY and even free options you can try.

How to raise dairy goats by creating a setup for easier and more efficient feeding that you can use to raise a thriving herd.

hay feeder options for goats

Even though I have only been raising goats for well over 10 years, I do think I have tried just about every goat hay feeder on the market.  I have my favorites and my not-so-favorites. And just like every other goat farmer, what works for me might not work well for you.

To help you decide on the best hay feeding option for your goat herd, I have a list of reviews on different goat hay feeders available, from DIY to the best to purchase and why. These are all options I have tried out on our own farm, so know they have been tested by a homesteader and a herd of rambunctious goats. 

I hope this guide will make it easier for you to choose the best hay feeder for your goat setup.

goat hay feeder

Having an efficient way to feed your goats is important for their health and your wallet. The better the feeder the less waste you will have.

It’s true that not all goat owners feed their animals grain; it all depends on the situation and nutritional needs of the individual animal.

All goats do, however, need to have access to good-quality hay. Even if your goats have access to pasture, odds are you are still giving them hay to munch on as well.

2 boer goats eating hay out of a blue hay feeder.heic (1)

Goats are Picky eaters!

Contrary to what people believe, goats are pretty picky eaters, especially when it comes to hay. I have seen our goats chew up the hay they like while letting the hay they don’t like fall from their mouths in a practiced dance. Because of this, you may find piles of wasted hay scattered throughout your barn.

Since hay is not cheap, it is important to find a hay feeder that will cut down on that waste. Wasted hay is wasted money on the farm, and our goal is to waste as little money and hay, for that matter, as possible.

Hay Feeder Options For Goats

There are many options for goat hay feeders, from DIY setups you can make yourself to expensive contraptions available to purchase in-store or online.

I have tried a handful of feeders, and I have had my favorites as well as a few flops. This is my list of feeders that I have used and tried over the last 10+ years with our own goat herd.

Hanging Metal Goat Hay Feeder

I purchased a version of this metal hay feeder to use in our buck’s outside summer pen. This is by far the best option I have found for my rowdy group of bucks. It is sturdy enough to stand up to their strength and will stay put even with their roughhousing.

This feeder will also work with more than one animal in a pen but 2 goats per feeder I think would be the limit.

I purchased these feeders almost three years ago, and they look just as nice as they did on day one. Younger goats can squeeze their heads in the openings, but they are large enough that you do not have to worry about them getting stuck.

goats eating hay out of a goat hay feeder. Hay feeding options for your goats.

Metal feeders do allow some waste since they are wide open at the bottom. I bought mine at our local feed store, and that is the best quality option. Unfortunately, I have not found one of similar quality online yet, they seem to be thinner steel making them seem not has sturdy as the first one I purhcased.

If you want to see the metal feeder you can check out this version here.

goat hay feeder for a buck in a goat shelter

If your larger goats have horns, this hay feeder is still a great option. The narrow slats allow easy access to the hay without goats needing to put their entire heads inside. We have kids who put their heads in, but we have never had a full-grown goat try.

Bottom line: A metal feeder is a good sturdy goat hay feeder that holds up well with my bigger bucks or goats with horns intact. It also does very well in the weather.

Hanging canvas feed bag

I love this hay feed bag. It is very sturdy and durable, perfect for the milking stall because ti takes up little room yet holds a surprisingly good amount of hay.

We like to use this option in our milk stall, sick pens, and goat birthing pens. It is lightweight and easy to move around, even if it is full.

This goat hay feeder bag is made of heavy-duty canvas, so the durability is superb, which surprised me.

When shopping, remember that you get what you pay for. Look at the reviews and only purchase good-quality bags made of durable canvas with reinforced stitching. 

a brown nubian doe eating hay from a canvas hay feeder bag.heic

This particular goat hay feeder is meant for one animal and will not work with multiples. This is why it works well in a milking stall, sick pen, or birthing pen. There is some wasted hay, but not much if your animal is a calm eater.

I do have a doe that pulls out large amounts of hay and drops half of it when she is eating. The rest of my does tend to eat with their heads completely inside the bag, thus eliminating most of the waste.

Goat eating hay from a hanging goat hay feeder bag

I purchased mine on Hoeggerfarmyard.com, but their shipping has not been good lately. I found this one on Amazon, which looks very close to the one I purchased on Hoegger. As I said above, be sure to read the reviews so you purchase a durable bag that is able to stand up to a rough goat. 

Bottom line:  If you have a small area, this is the perfect goat hay feeder for you. Very durable and takes up little space.  

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DIY hog panel feeder

This is a do-it-yourself option that is quick to make, easy to install, and simple to move. I use this in the corners of my main junior pen to offer multiple feed areas for this larger herd. This is good for medium-sized groups and deters bullying.

DIY instructions

  1. Look for a corner in your shelter with enough space to hold this style of feeder.
  2. Check to be sure there is nothing that can harm your goats while they are eating.
  3. Cut a piece of hog panel fence that is about 3 feet wide and 5 feet high.
  4. Hold the fence up to the corner, being sure it sits on the ground.
  5. If you have different-sized openings on the fence panel, put the smaller ones near the ground and the wider ones up high.  Since most of the waste falls to the bottom of the feeder, the goats will eat from the top down. Therefore, you want larger openings at the top.
  6. Attach the fence panel to the wall on each side with heavy-duty fencing nails, creating a triangle-shaped area.
  7. Be sure to use enough nails so it stays in place.
arrows showing different opening sizes of a goat hay feeder

SLCG PRO TIP: use the hay waste at the bottom of these feeders for bedding in your goat stalls or chicken nesting boxes. The small pieces of hay work great as bedding!

Using fence panels is a really good and sturdy option and is my go-to for most of my multiple pens.  I will use this setup in my small pens as well, but they do take up some room, so be aware of that.

Hog panel feeders can be cut to specific sizes depending on the amount of room you have to work with using a fencing cutting tool. 

>>Please note:  If your goats HAVE horns, do NOT use this method. Goats with horns can easily get caught in the fencing, causing possible injury. Please refer to options 1 and 2 if you have goats with horns.

Bottom line:  A great and inexpensive way to feed multiple goats at once. Easy to install and move with fencing nails and a hammer.  Fence nails can be used over and over as well so the cost is minimal.  

DIY Hog Panel Stand-Alone Goat Hay Feeder

I LOVE this feeder option!

Hubby came up with this option, and it is by far the best way to feed a large number of goats with little to no waste. It is easy to make and simple to move. I have 6 goats in my large pen, and they are all able to eat comfortably from this goat hay feeder without incident.

NOTE: Again, this is not a good option for goats with horns that are intact. Please refer to one of the other options if any of your goats have horns.

Any hay that the goats discard stays inside the feeder and falls to the bottom. When I notice a build-up of discarded hay, I will then take the clean hay out and use it in my nesting boxes inside our chicken coop—no more wasted hay.

goats in a barn eating hay out of a stand alone feeder

DIY instructions

Note that this DIY requires more than one person to do as it involves some muscle.

  1. Lay a full piece of panel fencing flat on the ground.
  2. Have someone stand on the panel while you lift up the end creating the bend in the fencing.
  3. You need to be careful doing this so as not to have the panel spring back; two people are best when bending the panel.
  4. Keep working along with the panel until you have made a rectangle the size you need to accommodate your herd.
  5. Attach the end with several heavy-duty zip ties to secure it.
  6. Place the feeder in your pen with the small openings at the bottom.  
Goat in a barn. DIY fence goat hay feeder.

SLCG PRO TIP: If you have a particularly rowdy bunch, you may want to secure your goat hay feeder to the ground with a few garden stakes.

Bottom line:  This is a great goat hay feeder for a large herd of animals and can be used inside or out. Cost is the price of a panel and a few zip ties. Very durable and sturdy. Works best in larger areas since it does take up some room.

DIY Hanging Goat Hay Feeder

This was one of my first attempts at a hanging feeder. I used a wire basket from a chest freezer I found for $2.00 at a garage sale. It was very low cost and did work for a bit. Unfortunately, the material was not durable and it didn’t last nearly as long as I would have liked.

Goats in a pen eating hay. goat hay feeder DIY goat feeder from recycled materials.

I do think it would be more successful with smaller goats, but my big girls are a bit rough and this feeder was just no match for them. There is some waste with this feeder as well. Use fencing nails to hang this feeder at a height that works with your goats.

Bottom line:  A great feeder for smaller breeds of goats.  Inexpensive and easy to install. Works well in small areas since it takes up little room. 

Using Buckets and Bins for Hay

Right now I am using a few buckets to feed hay to my goats that are in the outside breeding pen for the summer. This allows me to have several low-cost options for the goats and keeps fighting to a minimum during breeding. 

This is an option to use in a pinch and not one I recommend using routinely. Why? Because hay can get wet that can turn into moldy hay that can cause illness in goats. Also, when hay is down low this way goats may unintentionally poo in the bin turning good hay into soiled hay and, in turn, risking your goats getting sick. 

boat buck eating hay. goat hay feeder options for feeding hay to your goats.

If you choose to go this route, be sure to have holes (and plenty of them) in the bottom. This will allow the rainwater to flow through and not settle in, risking rot of the hay. Remember, goats hate wet, especially wet hay.

Bottom Line: If at all possible, keep hay under shelter if the weather threatens rain and remember to always ensure your goat’s hay is clean and dry at all times. 

As time goes on I like to experiment with different feeders to see what works and what doesn’t. This is the current list of hay feeding options for my goats that have worked the best for us. I hope you are inspired to make your own DIY goat hay feeders since this is always the best way to save money on a homestead. However, if you decide to purchase your feeders I know either of the above options will work great for you.

If you have tried a few goat hay feeders or made your own, please share them below.  I would love to see what you have tried and hear about what worked and what didn’t.

If you want more great posts on Dairy Goats then check out my Goat Raising 101 page.

More Goat Care Resources:

Goat Hay Feeders

8 Comments

  1. Don’t you worry about a goat getting its head stuck in a hog panel? It happens, I believe. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi, Steve
      For my bigger goats I do not use the panels I instead use the hanging metal feeder. I have only ever had one goat get their head stuck. It was my big buck and he simply outgrew the panel feeder. I found the metal hanging feeder and since then he has been on that one. The girls (even my big Nubian gals) have never gotten stuck. You can also switch to cattle panels which have bigger openings.
      Hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  2. Ali Campbell says:

    Thank you for your informative post. I am about to get 2 pygmy goats and was wondering which type of hay feeder to get.

  3. I’ve zip stripped or bungeed the bottom of rack from an oven to the outside of the fence (we have a section made of dog kennel panels. I secure the top with a bungee and put a flake of hay bnb in each. The top bungee keeps the hay tight against the fence and the dog panel openings work perfectly to restrict how much hay they take. They still can waste a lot by just dropping big mouthful, but works great and easy to fill.

  4. Cindy Owens says:

    I made a corner hay feeder out of pallet wood. I simply cut the pallet apart then built a triangle shape bin about 4 ft tall with slats in the 2 forward facing sides about 4 inches apart and the back has the slats placed together so the hay can’t fall out. The bottom is closer together about a foot from the ground with a bottom in it. And the top is open to fill. It holds about a half a bale of a square bale of hay. I have pygmy goats with horns and they have never had any issues fighting over getting to the hay or getting their heads in between the slats and getting stuck. It has worked out beautifully for me!
    Circle C Farms
    Glendale, Ky

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