If you have ever seen a toddler at mealtime with their decorative splatter like designs made with food on their high chair, the floor, maybe even the ceiling, struggling to get any in their mouth. Then you know what it’s like to feed goats.
Despite their reputation for eating everything…even the kitchen sink they are actually quite picky eaters and as a result very wasteful.
During our January club meeting Kristine Struve-Hagan shared hay manger designs that have helped her minimize waste in her goat pen. The topic spurred a long discussion around the challenges many of our club members face with their “picky eaters”.
Goat standard #1: If it falls on the floor then it’s not edible
Modifying an existing system: To solve for the waste she was seeing from her medium sized herd Kristine modified her existing hay manger by adding wood slats in front of the catch board so her goats had to put their heads into the manger and eat over the catch board. Now if hay falls it lands on the catch board not the floor.
Her second manger is also an alteration to an existing system.
Here Kristine has used hog panel to create spaces for her goats to stick their mouths in but prevents the kids from jumping in as well.
These are great solutions for many of us who already have a similar style manger and don’t want to invest in a completely new system.
Building a new manger: If you have the resources and the time, building a custom manager to suit your goats eating styles may be the best solution for you. Denise Hetland another member of our club did just that when she too was frustrated with the waste. Additionally she wanted to make sure that her goats ate everything on their plate and didn’t leave behind the
still nutritionally valuable but often dense stems. Her manger also uses a slat system but sits on the ground so the goat have to put their heads in and down to enjoy their food. This means zero waste as the goats eat their way to the bottom of the pile.
Kristine also built a similar manger and found the same success.
Keyhole mangers: There are varying opinions on how well key hole mangers work. They do a nice job of zero waste efforts but are known to be dangerous to goats since it locks their head in and prevents them from seeing anything so they can’t defend themselves or prepare if another goat rams them. The solutions above are great alternatives to this, by creating spaces for goats to put their heads but still providing a peripheral view.
Club Members: Got a great idea to share, a topic or article you’d like to discuss? Submit them here and we’ll share them in the newsletter and on the blog.