Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sunday Reading on Saturday - A Small Projects Day

Going to be out cutting wood tomorrow most of the day so I thought I would combine Saturday night and Sunday's posts this week.

There weren't any interesting farm auctions around the area today and although I am suppose to be looking at an old Ferguson 30 tractor that a guy wants to sell me it was too nice a day to not spend it getting some stuff done around here.

My mother decided that the chickens needed a way to sun themselves while in the barn. The only place this is really possible during the Winter months is the main front entrance as it faces due South. The problem is we have to leave the big sliding door open and that allows dog access. Her solution was to go buy a hog panel except with the shape of the entrance and the ground wire running buy it it really didn't work very well. Not to mention those things are a pain to move.

Well there really isn't a good solution to the problem. The barn is stuffed full to the gills with hay and equipment so a hinged gate arrangement is out because the sliding door doesn't fully open either.  It wasn't actually designed to. There is about a four inch over hang. Opening a gate inwards is out of the question because of all the stuff inside.

So I cut the panel down, used fence stables to attach it to a light 2x4 frame and made slide brackets to fit it into. Of course the problem then for everyone who lives here except me was it was too heavy. They also complained about my tractor being too close. Jeez another month and there won't be a problem as I guarantee the hay is going to disappear much faster than we would like. Finally I just removed one of the brackets and installed a sliding bolt lock. This holds it in place and makes it dog proof but makes it easier to unbolt and then pull out AND it stays in place when the bolt is slid in.

While I was working on it several of the hens were all laid out in the sun out of the wind enjoying it so I guess it's a good idea.

Still making more work for me when I pull the tractor in and out. Space is at a premium right now too.

The entire time I am working I have company in the form of that red sex link hen we got named Hennypenny. I really need to take a picture of her. The guy I got her from was kinda shady and I think he sold me an old hen. She is molting right now and has had her top beak rounded off. The other hens and rooster pick on her mercilessly and so she is always off by herself well away from the others. She will walk right up to the dogs and is constantly going to wherever people are. The other chickens are so mean to her she now sleeps in her own kennel at night too.

So Hennypenny was helping me make things today. She would jump up into the bed of the truck, try and peck the circular saw while it was running and insisted there was something edible on my pant legs, boots or shirt sleeves. I have to admit sawing up 2x4's while shooshing a chicken out of the way is a new experience for me.

After finishing up the gate barrier project I switched gears to something that has been needing attention around here for years. A hanging hay manger.

This one is just the prototype. I made it out of interior plywood to save a few bucks until I get the design right. Eventually this one will be moved inside the barn and attached to the wall permanently but I am using it now to see how it will work outside.

The truth is we waste entirely too much hay around here especially during breeding season. We have hay rings in the pastures but typically just toss the rams some hay on the ground. Not a big deal when it's only one ram but when there are 8 or more ewes in there with him it's a problem. So this is my first attempt at a movable hay manger that can be placed over a cattle panel with a supporting T-post on each side. I designed it so I can make two mangers out of one sheet of plywood and then plan on adding a plastic hinged top.

The initial test wasn't too bad although I think I need to drop it down another six inches and add a strip along the bottom to hold the hay in place better. The prototype held about six sections of hay from a square bale and it should stop a lot of the waste. It is also designed so I can fill it from the outside. Each manger seems long enough for four ewes to use it comfortably and if I make two for each paddock I can remove the extra one during the off season and leave one for each ram.

My guess is they will pay for themselves within the first two to three weeks. The cost will be minimal as the design should net me two mangers for one 4x8 sheet of plywood and the cost of the extra t-post along with about 60 inches of 2x4 and four feet of a 2x6. So under $20.00 per manger I think. I picked up the vertical slats at a local salvage yard for .25 cents each.

It's amazing how feed conscious I have become since I started baling the hay on my own. The single largest cut into the margin of raising sheep is the food bill and the more I can do to cut it down the easier it will be to turn a profit of course.

Once I tweak this design a little bit I will try and pump out the other four next week.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!


  1. Looks like a good move on the hay manger thing, I have a similar thing set up for the horse, he has to really work to get the hay and he doesn't get it down and walk on it.
    You are looking at a TO-30! Some of the 8N parts fit on them since Ford stole the idea from Ferguson but of course the engines are different. Cooling and rain here.

    1. Sf - I think I am going to have to reduce the length of the opening bars too. They have empties the thing three times now and I can tell it has reduced waste although there is still some.

      I am not sure if it is a TO 30 or an MF 30. I know they made an MF 30 but it was an industrial model and yellow. I thought all TO's were gray and he said this one was red but I thought the first red MF was the 35. I am not as well versed in Massey Ferguson history as Ford so I am not sure what it is until I go look at it.

  2. Framing the hog panel - easy and brilliant! The hay feeder looks really good too. Trying to not waste hay is a huge challenge.

    1. Leigh - I have made many small gates from bent up hog and cattle panels and 2x4's Anything wider than about four foot is iffy but when I get a bent or broken panel and part is still usable it gets saved for custom gate making.

  3. Keeping the hay off of the ground should help some of the worm problems you were having.

    1. Spinnersaw - We weren't feeding hay when the worm problem started except in the pasture rings. The rams never had a problem with the worms. But yes ground feeding can cause worm problems to get worse which is another reason I am wanting to get these mangers built.

  4. When we were raising goats and were buying Alfalfa hay which here is really expensive .. I agree wasting hay is no good!!! The two we have now don't eat much lol. and don't waste much so yeah...
    Your hen sounds so sweet, why on earth does a person round a chickens beak? That seems pointless and mean to me... its a chicken for petes sake

    1. Texan - I guess it's for the closed in production hens so they don't hurt each other. Hennypenny is a hoot though she doesn't know a stranger is completely at ease around humans. I have to constantly keep an eye out for her and when she hears me messing around the barn she comes running.


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