Round Bale Hay Feeder

Cattle put some serious pressure on feeders.  Most commercially available feeders simply collapse, or get torn up, after time.  I like my stuff to last my lifetime.

Let’s Get To It

3″ channel
11ga square tubing (3″, and 2″)

I feed up to 6′ diameter bales, so I’ve built the feeder 6′ WxL.  Simple design, nothing special………but heavy duty.

Lay out a fixture to assemble the end panels.This should be “level”, as described in the video.

Next step is to cut the corner posts, and cap them, top and bottom.  This keeps rain out, and also keeps manure from packing inside the bottom of the posts.Cut the caps so that they are slightly smaller than the tubing dimensions.  This allows for a good penetrating weld when attaching them.  Rounded corners are for the same reason…….weld penetration.

After the posts are prepared, clamp them to the fixture, square them up, and tack them.Your dimensions can vary, but I like to allow 31″ between top/bottom pieces of channel in order to be able to cut the uprights (attached later) from an 8′ piece of 2″ tubing without excessive waste.

After the first end panel is tacked up, the assembly checked for square, the second end panel components can be clamped to the first end panel for tackup.This is a great time saver.  Why go through squaring again, if you don’t have to.
Your corners are the most critical when using the first panel as a template.  They must match.You may find that the channel, somewhere along its length doesn’t match the original panel.This isn’t terribly critical.  The channel will pull itself straight during the following fitup, and finish welding, process.  Trust me 🙂

After the end panels are done, clamp them to the same fixture to receive the final crossmembers to tie it all together.Your fixture should still be “level” at this point.  Check it to make sure.

What’s The Deal
With These Fixtures

I’ve often tried to explain how to set up fixtures so that they’re FLAT,,,,,,,,NOT NECESSARILY LEVEL.  You don’t need level to build, but you do need flat.  This technique works well for those who don’t have a nice level/semi level floor to work on.

Sorry about the jumpy video………..I’m not a movie producer 🙂  And I tend to wag my head around too much 🙂

These are the basics, and should help you set it up all square.

Finishing Out

Everything is tacked before welding.  I MEAN EVERYTHING.  There have been no full welds up to this point.  Doing full finish welds prior to full assembly is asking for trouble.  You will get distortion, and warping.  Once your satisfied that everything is square, plumb, and “level”.  Do your welding.I like to sight across all lines again at this point.  Top of channel, the corners, the uprights, etc.   If all went well, you’re good to go.

I built 2 of these this time around.  The second one posed a problem.  It wasn’t squaring up right, something had pulled during tacking.  Rather than straightening the assembly with heat prior to welding……….I chose to tack it all together (I was about 1/4″ out of square on the corner posts), and then use a come-along to pull it square prior to fitting the uprights.Pieces of scrap channel were tack welded at the corners to hold the assembly to its new square mode.  All further fitup, and all welding, was done with these temporaries tacked in place.  You have to decide whether the additional effort required to heat shrink the metal back into shape is worth it.  For something like this, it might not be.  The final product was indeed square after the finish welding.

The Welds

I’ve used 7018 stick electrodes during the entire process.  I feel that the added resistance to stress, and ductility, is a plus for something that will see pretty hard use.  I also prefer the good “dig” that 7018 gives.This, and all welds, were run with 3/32 diameter Excalibur at 85-90amps.  I like it hot.  Welding hot allows you to weld fast.  By the time I get to finish welding, I just want to see the thing out the door, and in use………I’m sorta fed up with it by this point 🙂The overhead welding was done at the same amperage (85-90).  When running overhead, it’s advisable to run hot.  This prevents the puddle from drowning the arc.  Try it, and you’ll never go back to running at less amps for this particular diameter rod.

Sometimes good penetration is TOO GOOD 🙂Welding uphill can be tricky when you’re putting a lot of heat into 11ga material.  The feeder was marked as it went through Quality Control, and the defect fixed 🙂.030 self shielding wire was used to fill, and build out the hole.  There’s always some minor disaster 🙂

A brief note on arc blow.  When welding with DC current, it will start to act strangely when you approach an inside corner, or approach the end of the steel you’re welding.  In such cases……..weld back from the edges towards the middle.

Out The Door

Well, if I actually HAD a door 🙂

These are exceptionally durable.  I have some, built in this manner, that have been out there almost 15yrs.  And they’re still going strong.  I think a few date back maybe 20yrs.

Any day above ground is a good day



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