The author demonstrating her method of feeding goats with a hay net.
PHOTO: MICHAEL E. BLILEY
Are you plumb tired of watching your goats bed down on perfectly good hay that they've kicked or dragged out of their feeder? Wouldn't you rather see that costly food end up in their stomachs, where it can do its bit to produce milk? Well, here's a simple solution to the expensive problem: try feeding goats from a horse's hay net!
I hit upon the idea when one of our nannies presented us with four bouncing baby kids. The hungry imps were ready to try their teeth out on solid food inside of a week, but I knew they'd waste most of the hay if I left it in a conventional manger.
That's when inspiration came to my rescue. I filled a hay net with several fluffed-out flakes and hung it (using a slip knot, just in case a rambunctious goat got tangled up in the thing) so that the feed would be suspended just above the kids' withers. The little rascals loved it. And, though they did leap up and climb on the net, none of them managed to get tangled up in the new feeder. I was encouraged by this success, and decided to try out another "hay hanger" on my mature does. The "old ladies" were, if anything, even more enthusiastic about the food-holder than their babies had been.
Hay nets aren't very costly (they're available for $5.00 to $7.00 at most feed and tack stores), and I figure that ours has already paid for itself in lowered hay bills. However, anyone with a little macrame skill ought to be able to whip up a workable net out of baling twine for no cash at all!
Of course, I wouldn't use one of these contraptions around any horned — or exceptionally nervous — animals, because of the danger of entanglement. As far as my own hornless and docile goats go, though, I'll continue to save money by hangin' their hay in the air. After all, in this day and age who can afford to argue with a "net" profit?