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Best On-Farm Fixes: Repurposed calf feeder

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 11 June 2014
repurposed calf feeder

At Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC near Watertown, Wisconsin, calf and heifer manager Tracy Loos was looking for a better way to keep calf feed dry. She found her fix with a repurposed soap barrel, some left-over metal tubing and a little creativity.

Loos was faced with an ongoing challenge each time it rained. With the super-hutches that house the dairy’s groups of post-weaned calves, located just before the barn’s roof line, feed was often getting wet and, thus, wasted. She began to think about a solution to this problem, enlisting the help of Tim Strobel, partner in the 900-cow dairy located in Watertown, Wisconsin.



“Tracy said she wanted to shelter the feed so it wouldn’t get ruined every time it rained,” Strobel says. “She also wanted something portable and not too heavy.”

He went to work with a few things he had on hand. He scrubbed up a soap barrel, then cut a hole he estimated would provide enough room for the calves’ heads while also protecting feed with a roof on the top and keeping it contained from the bottom. Roughly, the hole measures 20.5 inches across by 12.5 inches tall.

Strobel then customized a frame to hang the feeder using metal tubing left over from another project. The arms are 23 inches long and fastened to the barrel with one bolt each. The unit hangs over a gate and can be easily moved. Strobel sealed the project with a coat of paint to prevent rust.

Loos couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

“The feeder is great because it hangs on the gate right at the calves’ level,” she says.


And rainy days are a little less gloomy at Rosy-Lane because feed is staying dry.

“It’s a big time-saver,” she notes, “but the wasted grain is the main thing. We haven’t had to throw any grain out of these tubs, and with a spring like this, we have put them to the test.”

Strobel has now made five of these feeders, estimating his time at around 1.5 hours and investment at $40 to $50 each. PD

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