I feed big squares out in the fields, of course, with the mud, the gang loves to spread it around to lay in it. Ugh.
I just doesn't seem really feasible to use a feeder for big squares due to their weight, size and PITA handling complexity.
Has anyone had a strike of genius and found a way to reduce waste with the big squares?
Taking out only a few flakes a day would be the brilliant thing to do to start, but I do try to save my back and avoid heavy lifting if at all possible and I love the convenience and peace of mind of knowing they have "all-they-can-eat" hay in front of them at all times.
Why not make a box that sits a couple feet off the ground with a lid? And just space out boards or PVC to make mouth-width gaps. Then you can just drop the bale in from a comfortable carrying position and they can't trample it into the ground.
The problem with big squares is that they can not be manoeuvred well. I am afraid if I built a wooden box that the square will break it upon landing (if it lands wrong or imperfectly, which is will happen... Just the way it is!).
I did a box for rounds, but they are much much less heavy and so much more manoeuvrable!
This is a picture of a feeder we made. This is for big rounds but you could easily make these for big squares.
We bought "horse panels" at our local farm store, "Runnings Farm and Fleet". The horse panels are like the cattle or hog panels but have very small squares so a horse can't get a foot caught. They are 60" tall by 12'. We cut them in half ending up with two, just under 30" sections, 12' long which we then fastened together to make a circle. Instant bale feeder for about $40.00 .
For a square feeder, I think you would need to buy 2 panels so you could have the two 12' sections, and then cut two 3' or so sections for your ends to make a rectangle for the big squares. From your second panel you would have enough left over to make more end pieces for more feeders.
You can cut these panels with a bolt cutter. Then you need to have a hand held grinder to grind all the sharp ends smooth for safety. It is a bit of work and time, but you end up with a decent feeder that one person can move alone, for not much $$. You set your bale where you want it and then plop the feeder over the bale.
We have been using 5 of these feeders for 6 months or so and they are working well. No injuries and they are holding up well. I would not use them with foals as a foal hoof is small enough to get caught.
How about a hay ring, with straight panels down each side, or farm gates to make the straight panels? My hay ring unbolts to make two half circles. If you don't need to move the holder, you could plant a post and hang a gate for easy access for loading a new bale in.
I built my feeder and it sounds similar to the one you made. I used 4 X 4's in the corners, cut down to about 5 feet high and then used decking boards for the sides. Mine has the "loading side" as a gate that I pull off to re-load another bale. I do have a couple of skids in the bottom to keep the bale off the ground but the next time it is empty I am going to add some 2x8's with small spaces over the skid to create a real floor. I just recently added a roof to the feeder by adding a couple of 4x4's in the center of opposite side about 7 feet tall then added a few cross braces with a tarp fitted on for a roof. I can loosen the tarp and pull it back on the loading side and then just secure it back down when the bale is in there. Takes mine about 3 weeks to go through a bale so I wanted to make sure it stayed relativeley dry it there.
I use rounds but they are huge rounds and we drop them off the bed of the truck or trailer into the open side of the feeder and they bounce off the walls (all posts and concreted in) and I have not had a problem in 2 years with any of the boards breaking.
Yes, they are easy to move, although a bit "floppy". I can get them close to the bale, then schooch them up and over, if that makes any sense . I am careful to not drop a bale on them as I think they would squish, but so far the horses haven't bent them at all.
I made it with pipe and fittings from Lowes. I did not add the collapsing sides, I just put a small lip to keep the hay from sliding out and added the roof. I used 2x6's for the hay floor. I am in the processing of making 4 more. I have about $700 in each one. They could be made of wood entirely but my guys would eat it too, so I just bit the bullet and paid for the more expensive pipe. It should last longer than me...so I'm happy with that. My bales are round, about 1000#s.