Anyway, what to do to get through this spring. The easy fix was to supplement with hay. Expensive solution but available. The horse and donkeys get hay cubes, which they seem to prefer. While the sheep get baled hay. Oh, they like the alfalfa too but they tend to have difficulty with it and choke. So I want to keep them away from the cubes. With all the livestock sharing the inner pasture on grass-free days, I had to devise a way to segregate the feed. Luckily the equines go for the cubes over the baled hay.
I use a trashcan for holding the hay cubes. The trashcan is secured to the fence so that it can't be knocked over.
Now what to do about the baled hay. Sheep can be great wasters of hay. And hay around here cost me $45 a bale! I'm not inclined to see sheep pee, poop, and sleep on it. My first idea was to build a keyhole feeder. So I built one and it worked fine for the sheep until the horse got her head stuck in it. Luckily the mare didn't injure herself but she busted up the feeder by dragging it about until she freed herself. Rather than trying to separate the livestock by building additional corrals, I tried to come up with a simpler, quicker, cheaper solution.....in a hurry. Dumping hay into the ground won't do. I tried putting the hay into a cement mixing tray. No good. Sheep just stood on the hay. I tried a tub like a bathtub. Sheep jumped in, pooped and peed on the hay. Two failures in 20 minutes.
Watching the lambs sticking their heads through the fence trying to reach some dropped hay made a lightbulb go off in my head. Why not put the hay outside the fence? So I gave it a try to see how they handled it. The lambs and ewes were fine, but the rams couldn't get their heads through the fence, so they could only reach what was close. Quickly they ran out of reachable hay. Now if I could only keep the hay up against the fence, it should work.
Raiding my trusty pallet stash, I brought four pallets over. Propped up by the fence, it looked like they could work, but the hay would drop between the slats.
I've been using thus method for 6 weeks now and have seen very, very little wastage. On top of it, the equines can also access this hay if they want to, without ruining it too. A simple solution that was easy, quick, and cheap.