Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:27 AM
This is actually the first time I've been so impressed with a product I've purchased for my homestead that I felt the need to publicly endorse it. I happily recommend this product to all my goat owning friends and readers.
Last fall while I was working in the petting zoo at the Northern California Renaissance Faire, my friend Ally was using a couple of feeding nets for the miniature horses, miniature donkeys, alpacas, sheep and goats. They seemed to work really well and the animals had no problem getting their hay from between the netting. I was impressed and decided to look into them.
I researched various net and bag style feeders on a number of forum boards. This research pointed me towards Cinch Chix for the highest quality and most reliable nets. Reviewers had used them for years without any breakage or weather related degradation. But these nets didn't come cheap so I held off buying one.
Flash forward to early July. I finally broke down and ordered the West Coast Bale Cinch Net with the 1" netting recommended for goats and sheep. It literally holds an entire bale. The net is pulled over the bale while it's still bound. Once the netted bale is in place in the feeding area, the bale cords are cut and pulled out.
It wasn't quite as easy to get on the bale as the video on their website showed. But then I realized that I purchase my bales directly from a farmer and his bales are actually a little larger than the ones I had been getting (and occasionally still do) from the feed store. He also uses baling wire rather than nylon cord which added another dimension of difficulty when removing them. But the second bale was easier, and by the third bale I had it down to a science. I had figured out the best way to get the net on and the wire off so that I no longer struggled with it. Relatively speaking, that's a pretty short learning curve.
I've been using it for a little over a month now, and boy oh boy am I sorry that I didn't spring for this thing last fall. Where as I used to have to load up the two feeders with flakes of hay morning and night, now I just load one bale onto the bench and walk away. Set it and forget it - literally.
Previously a bale would last me about 4-1/2 to 5 days feeding six goats and a sheep. Now a bale lasts me a full 7 days! The waste that goats are so notorious for has been cut down to a smidgen compared to my previous feeding regimen. I calculate a 30-35% reduction in waste. Wow!
And the goats, how do they feel about it? They love it. They now have a continuous supply of hay and browse whenever they feel like it. Previously, they would gorge themselves when the feeder was full and then later in the day wonder why there wasn't anything left for lunch. I think this new system is healthier and more natural for them. Goats are browsers. If I had pasture for them, my goats would eat sporadically throughout the day just like their wild cousins. Added bonus - my sheep Pappy no longer has a chest full of hay tangled in his wool.