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We've been asked several times about how to keep the goats out of the dog food.  Our response is that we use self feeders.  This keeps us from being  locked into a specific time to feed the dogs. It also means there is always free choice food available to the dogs so they're never stacked up at the gate waiting to be fed just as the goats decide to go back out to forage.  We have never had to hold food back from any of our working dogs because they were eating too much and they seem to stay quite healthy choosing when and how much to eat without our interference.  

By the way, if you can find someone who manufactures or assembles the actual feeders, you may save a good deal of money buying seconds.  These feeders can be classed as seconds for a marred finish on the metal or other similar inconsequential irregularities.  We got these for about half price.


This is one of our older feeders made from hog panel.  It has been reused and patched several times and still works great!

We have placed hog panel, cattle panel and utility panel (but a wooden fence or any barrier too high for goats would work) around the feeder and cut a hole in the panel about 14 inches off the ground with the hole being 9 inches to 1' square.  The dogs can get through the hole to get to the feeder and the goats can't.  Make sure any sharp edges or points are smoothed off to protect the dogs when they go through because it is a tight fit.  Variations of this method include making a hole for the dogs to crawl under or teaching them to jump in over the top.  We don't use these variations because we feel it teaches and encourages the dogs to use skills helpful in circumventing our fencing.

This is Sunshine using a feeder made from cattle panel with 6" squares.  Note how she turns partially onto her side to make it through.  Each picture is from a separate trip because the camera would only work fast enough to get one shot per trip.

To teach the dogs to use the feeders,  put them in the 'pen' show them the food, and lock them in.  They can almost always figure out how to get out. You do need to check though, we've had some rescue dogs that would have stayed in there forever if they weren't released. You may have to do this two or three times before they catch on.

This is Daisy and one of her pups.  Note that the opening is actually too low.  This has not caused a problem here, however in the first picture, one of the patches on that panel was for a hole cut like this one where the goats did crawl in.  In this case the goats wanted in so badly that they kept collapsing the hog panel and then leaned into eat the dog food.  We doubled the panel and this seemed to stop them.



On occasion, you'll find that a goat or two will figure out how to get in to a specific feeder.  In that case, you'll have four choices:

1.  Reconfigure the feeder with a different height from ground and a smaller hole.

2. Sell the goat or otherwise physically remove it from the pen where the feeder is located.

3. Feed the dogs individually.

4. Resign yourself to feed that goat dog food.

We have never found a way to un-train the goat from getting into the feeder without either making changes in the way it's built or making it just as unusable for dogs as it becomes for goats.  (i.e. electric fence to keep animals away is just too inclusive!) The goat will learn easily that it is a "bad thing" to be in the feeder but that just means they run when they see you coming.


We recently saw this inverted triangle design for a dog self feeder doorway on workingLGDs@yahoogroups.com.  Jennifer Gale says the the inverted triangle must be at least 6 inches above floor level and she recommends the the triangle have three points rather than the cut off like the one in the picture.   Apparently goats cannot figure out how to get their legs pulled in tight enough to go through the door.  This picture shows an opening 19" wide and 19" tall; when we make ours, we'll try making the hole shorter and even narrower on top.  Right now we're are pretty well covered over so it will be a while before we get to try this but it looked so good that we asked Jennifer if we could put up the picture.  Big goats can trash the panel feeders we show above and this is the first really different way we've seen that looked good to us.




Dan & Paula Lane
Copyright 2002 [Bountiful Farm]. All rights reserved.

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