How to create a shared area for feeding and watering your animals in two or more fields. This makes chores faster and easier.
One of my priorities on my farm is that the chores are as streamlined and easy as possible. I don’t mind hard work, but my time is limited so I try to be strategic about my setup. It is a CONSTANT battle to try to plan for this. I really need someone more experienced to come in to help me plot out my property, but I haven’t found someone who seems like a good fit in terms of attending to both the needs of our farm and also our desire to have a usable property for the kids to play.
I have, however, picked up a lot of tricks along the way and I’ll cover some of these property planning tricks in this post.
When raising animals or even if you just have a garden, access to water is vital. It’s a major expense to run underground water and a frost free spigot (we were quoted $5k+). Our property is divided by a long, paved driveway with electric and cable lines run underground along the driveway. This makes it expensive and a big task to setup fields all over our property for animals to rotationally graze.
The access to electricity to provide light when you’re caring for a sick animal at night, or to power a trough heater during the winter, is pretty important too. Running long extension cords is a potential cost and safety issue, and it’s difficult to run these type of things through a pasture with livestock. My goats, at least, aren’t very respectful of electrical wires; they will turn their noses up if I feed them cheap hay, but they will happily eat an electric cord.
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Our Shared Feed/Water Zone
To streamline my feeding tasks, I added an area where my horse field and goat/sheep field met. This is somewhat temporary as I plan to expand this field as we clear the land in the back, but it’s working pretty well right now.
The white shed has a run in on the left, but it also had a small stall on the right. The stall is small for a horse so I am using it as a feed room. I also store my tack in there.
There’s an area right next to the shed where I can slip in and out without letting the horse out. I like being able to make a quick escape and it’s nice in the winter when my gate latches freeze.
The water trough sits between the two fields so I can fill one trough for both fields. This is really convenient, although I wish my gate was next to this because I often need to hop to the other side while cleaning my trough out.
Goats and sheep tend to be pushy when being fed so I have a PVC pipe that I cut in half to attach to the fence.. I can place the feed in the PVC feeder without getting pushed around, and it’s nice for the kids to be able to pet the critters while they eat. My horse eats off the bottom of the “T.”
I’ve been tempted to close the feed room in so the horse can’t stand in front of the tack room, but it hasn’t been high priority. She sometimes wants to lick the goat’s feeder, but I feed her at the same time as the goats so she sticks with her own feed.
Before you ask- the goats haven’t figured out how to squeeze through the feeder. Is it possible? Maybe. But they haven’t figured it out since November so I don’t think I need to worry. That said, one of the sheep attempted to swim through the water trough. She hasn’t attempted this again… it was not her favorite experience. I think she THOUGHT she could jump through the gap without hitting the water, but… didn’t.
Fortunately she was only motivated enough to attempt this because I was shaking some food for the other critters. I was right there to save her.
Initially I had square bales stored inside the stall/tack room as well, but I switched to round bales so I don’t need that storage anymore. I moved my goat milking stand in there; it will be a great zone to milk the goats if I breed them again.
If I planned to keep everything as is, I’d add some better footing around the trough to avoid mud. Stone dust would work well here for drainage. But I plan to rearrange things eventually so everything is sort of a temporary setup. I’ve contemplating taking down the welded wire fencing to the right of the trough soon because the goats have absolutely DEMOLISHED my welded wire fencing. I learned the hard way that the wrong wire fence is an expensive, time consuming mistake.
Cheap Hacks to Make This Easier
There’s a few cheap hacks that you can try if you can’t put a ton of money into your fields yet. I certainly have attempted a few of these.
Keeping Animals Away from Cords
You can use PVC pipe and run cords through the PVC. This keeps smaller animals from accessing the cords. I imagine a horse or cow would break the PVC if they stepped on it, but I hung PVC under my feeders to cover my electric cord for our trough heater:
Solar panels are another option that you can consider for lighting or other electric uses. I’ve debated if it would be cheaper for a barn than having an electrician install wiring underground from our main panel. Here’s some info on the cheap solar barn light I used in my goat barn. There are heavy duty solar and wind powered options, as well as storage units, for larger scale electric production.
Check out these other farm hacks if you want some more ideas.
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