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Author Topic: Key-Hole hay racks?  (Read 4026 times)


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Key-Hole hay racks?
« on: January 03, 2014, 02:27:28 am »
I think that's the name for them, where the goat has to put its head through a partition to eat her hay?
Any it's breaking my heart to see all the hay on the floor, watched them grab mouthfulls of hay yesterday, swing their heads round and shower the floor with hay.
So - anyone use this idea? Anybody willing to put some pics up to give me ideas?
Trouble is I'm short of space on the outside of the pens, so I thought of putting like a topless box, with mesh bottom for dust/ seed etc to drop out, against the front of the pen, but there is only about 15" wall between the door and corner where I would put it, it could go much longer up the pen side. (pens have single goats in).
These girls are disbudded, still trying to think of ideas for the horned boers.
any ideas on what minimum dimensions the box would need to be? size of hole etc, minimum distance from the hole to the back of the 'box'?
Any advice gratefully received!  :)


  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 10:09:55 am »
coincidentally I've been browsing around the net lately trying to find some way of reducing the amount of waste. It seems that for every mouthful eaten at least 2 go on the floor. this website seemed to provide a few ideas. i'm keen on trying the shelf idea shown in one of the pics


  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 10:40:58 am »
Thanks for that, I'm getting upset at the amount of waste hay too. Our sheep have hay racks but still lots piles up on the floor underneath and we are considering a method of catching it so they can still eat it, the box type keyhole rack might be the solution with a little modification. :thumbsup:
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 01:17:58 pm »
That's the eternal (and world-wide from that website!) goatkeepers' problem - how to get them to waste less hay...

I haven't found an answer, and my shed layout makes these keyhole feeders impractical, as they are quite big. We are just resigned to the fact that quite a bit of hay gets wasted.

We often take the driest bits from the top (of their bedding) and re-use it in the chicken sheds, as bedding in the trailer etc.


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 01:51:43 pm »
When we redesigned the goat pens last year we put the hay racks up really high.  Even when the goats stood on their hind legs, they couldn't get their heads in the top.

At first I thought they were too high but we soon discovered that they were just right and we have cut down the amount of waste by a huge amount.

We also hung the water buckets on the wall above tail height!

Probably not much use for sheep but goats do tend munch on their hay standing upright.

Lesley Silvester

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 03:41:18 pm »
My hayracks are that sort of height as well. They still waste some but not so much.


  • Joined Jul 2009
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 07:14:28 pm »
The Goat Keepers Guide has a picture although I know I have a DIY design somewhere but I can't find it you usually have to look in PSS (Before it kept changing its name) or Smallholder (when it was still a goat Magazine ;) ) definitely B.P.G's :D )


  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 01:32:48 am »
I bought in this years hay from someone who makes it for horses and it is absolutely fantastic hay. It was expensive but I thought there would be less waste so it might work out cheaper in the long run, sheep can be picky too. The hay seems to have been cut shorter than usual and so they don't have to work so hard to get it out of the rack. They aren't dropping anything like the usual amount but I would sooner there was no waste if it could be prevented somehow. 
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 12:29:25 pm »
thanks for the replies,
I do have short planks of wood in the top of the racks, slows the waste down a little bit, but as they pull it thru the mesh some drops to the floor.
They are individual pens because of bullying and I put the milking bench across the front of 2 pens, so the rack can't come out at the front, the box idea would replace current hay racks, obviously a bit deeper, so I shouldn't lose much room in the pen, I've just been reading that they need to stand up on something or they still just pull their head back out to eat. 
I would be worried about putting hayracks higher because i was warned they would get hay seed in their eyes, I did have problems with a youngster once, her eye looked quite sore but we managed to get it out.
I do use the dry top stuff and throw it onto their beds at the back of the pens.
I was buying horse hay last spring (Desperate) 6+ a bale and they managed to waste even more!  :(
OK Jinglejoys I give up - whats B.P.G's ???? Before ? Goats?
I have some old PSS and the Goatkeepers mag (before Smallholder), but still packed away in boxes following flood (roll on getting my built in bookcase).
googled 'Goat Keepers Guide' (Jill Salmon?) and bethought myself to google - 'keyhole hayrack', clicked on images and found quite a bit of information, american site had some interesting tips
Some look to have a shelf idea below the rack which the hay falls onto for a secondary chance of eating, but surely the goats would just stand on that and trample it there?
While cost does come into it, I'm more concerned about running out of hay and struggling to find any in spring again :-(, I'm going thru 4 bales a week and I'd say about half a bale or more is going on the floor,  :( .


  • Joined Jul 2009
Re: Key-Hole hay racks?
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 09:12:20 pm »
BPG's (Before Pygmy Goats ;)  )


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