A Portable Sheep Mineral Feeder

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A few days ago I forced myself to take twenty minutes and build a portable mineral feeder for my Clun Forest sheep out on pasture.

In the barn the flock has a mineral feeder permanently fixed to the wall. Down at Betty’s pasture, I move them to fresh grass every day, or at most, every other day. I’ve needed a portable “mineral delivery system” for several years, but I couldn’t quite picture how to make one and never had the time. Instead I simply refilled an open rubber pan as often as possible. This was wasteful — the sheep regularly tipped over the pan and the minerals were lost in the grass, or rain drowned the minerals and washed them away.

This portable mineral feeder works perfectly. Best of all, it was made entirely of scraps and cost me nothing.

  • The basic box is one of three plywood drawers (9″x16″x20″) I rescued off a burn pile five years ago. If you don’t have a similarly-sized box, it would be easy to make one using 3/4″ plywood.
  • The drawer is fastened on edge to skids made from two scraps of treated 4×4, left over from building the garage deck. The skids are 28″ long, their ends cut to 45° angles so it can ride easily over bumps when it is towed around the pasture. (If I’d had longer scraps, I would have made the skids 36″ long, for added stability.)
  • The front rim board is a scrap of treated 1×6 decking, cut to fit. The inside of the box is braced at each corner with scraps of 2×2, for strength and a larger fastening surface.
  • The roof is a scrap of 1/2″ plywood in front and a scrap of 5/4″ window trim in back. The roof pitch is supported by three 45° scraps of treated 4×4 left over from cutting the skids.
  • Behind the box and beneath the rim board are scraps of 2×4, cut to fit. They brace the skids. The 2×4 under the rim board has an eye bolt with a rope for towing.
  • Everything is fastened together with coated deck screws.

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The rim board keeps the minerals from spilling. The roof keeps them dry.

I would like to think I would take another ten minutes and stain the feeder for a nicer look, but my list is long and I know it’s unlikely it will happen soon, if ever.

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This mineral feeder is inelegant, but sturdy and light and can easily be pulled to a new location by hand.

Best of all, even when newly-filled and mobbed by the jostling flock, it rocks but does not tip over. (If the skids were a full 36″, I believe it would not even rock.)

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It’s always very satisfying to make a little concrete progress.

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4 Responses to A Portable Sheep Mineral Feeder

  1. Jack says:

    I very much enjoy your blog . Don’t quit . I understand how you like to make something out of scraps , as Ive always had to look for imaginative ways to stay ahead . Im sure your not going to quit your farming experience either , so stay at it as well , things will work out well in the end . Besides we all love what we are doing or I guess we wouldn’t be at it .

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thank you, Jack, for your kind comments. I’m always trying to patch things together out of scraps or figure out how to do things without big equipment, to save money. It’s time-consuming sometimes but as my husband teases me, there is little that delights me more than figuring out a cheap solution!

  2. Nice design! I have expensive ones designed for cattle, made of plastic bases with rubber roofs, and they work fine, but they are heavy and awkward to move.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thanks, Michelle. I imagine a mineral feeder for cattle would have to be exponentially heavier to keep them from tipping it over. Hmm. I’ll have to think about that one. For now I keep minerals inside the run-in shelter. Not perfect because I don’t always remember to check and refill it.

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