Our hay farmer approached us recently and told us we had to make the switch from square bales to round bales. Last year’s season was too rainy, and he wasn’t able to bale as many square bales as he normally would. He even traveled to Southwest Georgia to get us more square bales from other farmers before he finally told us we had to switch. All he had left in his inventory were round bales.
Well, if you read the DIY Square Bale Slow Feeder article, you know that our paddock was set up for square bales, not round. Round bales are a whole ‘nother ball game. They’re humungous and heavy making them hard to move, hard to store and hard to cover unless you’re already equipped to do so. Luckily, we found we could store an extra bale in our 7.6 x 7.6 storage shed that we had been using for stacked square bales. For horses, it’s best if you keep your rounder safely covered from the elements to prevent your hay from molding and your horses consuming moldy hay. We have a run-in shelter, so we tried putting the rounder under that. Then we wrapped it in plastic construction fencing to keep the horses from trampling it. That lasted about a day… They had a party in the hay, pulling down whole layers at a time and pooping and peeing all in it. It was great… 😑 That rounder lasted less than a week for our three horses. Not acceptable. We had to come up with another solution and fast.
I put out a plea on social media and got many responses. The general consensus was that a little hut to house your rounder is the best solution, so off we set to build the hay hut. You can see the building steps above. Our hay farmer’s rounders are about 5 ft tall and 6 ft wide. Our structure is 7 ft tall on the tall side, 6 ft 9 in on the short side, and 5 ft wide on all sides. The window for the horses to put their heads through is about 3 ft tall on the high side. The wall itself is about 4 ft tall. It’s important to make sure the wall is short enough for the horses to be able to eat the hay down to the ground but also tall enough to prevent them from climbing into the house and getting caught and/or ruining hay. Husband put a slight pitch on the roof and used plywood, standard roofing shingles & trim to weatherproof the structure. He cut down cedar fence slats to fit the sides and left small openings in between each slat, allowing the rounder to breath and the horses to eat hay through the slats if they want to. There is a gate on the tallest side that we keep chained shut unless we need it open to put a new rounder in. Initially, we wanted to put it on a little trailer, but because of our budget, we didn’t. We can still easily move it to a new spot though by hooking it up the our UTV and dragging it. The rounder sits on a plastic pallet so that it is not sitting on the dirt and is elevated a little bit more.
The whole project costs us about $350. Not bad considering our hay bill was cut by over half when we switched to rounders. I plan on eventually painting the posts black and staining the cedar slats. It’s a sturdy little hut, and now our round bales last us a whole week and a half with our three horses. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it makes a huge difference to our monthly hay expenses. Now if we just had a tractor to help move the round bale to its final resting spot… One day!
P.S. I am not the builder on our homestead so I apologize for not telling you the size of each piece of wood, rounding the numbers for each wall and not giving you a step-by-step guide. If you’d like to really know specifics, just message me, and I will ask Husband and get back to you!