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The #1 Best Way to Feed Hay to Cattle

panels in a 700 drb feeder as example of best way to feed hay to cattle 3

“The best way to feed hay to cattle,” you say? You’ve come to the right place! This article goes into detail about how to best feed hay to cattle (see our 1.5 ton portable grain bin for easy feed transport).

Spoiler Alert: The best way to feed hay to cattle is to first get a durable cattle feeder.

What is the Most Efficient Way to Feed Cows Hay?

1. Cattle Feeder

large feeder as example of best way to feed hay to cattle

The most efficient/best way to feed hay to cows is to supply hay using a raised cattle feeder every couple of days. Hay savings is one of the biggest contributors to efficiently feeding cattle hay. By keeping the hay contained, a correctly built cattle feeder prevents hay waste by disallowing cattle to stomp, spread out, or pee/poop on hay.

2. Smaller Amounts of Feed

Feeding smaller amounts of feed will prevent less hay from being sifted and wasted. The downside with this fairly efficient method of feeding hay to cattle is that you’ll have to feed your cattle hay much more often.

Hay showing the best way to feed hay to cattle

3. Bale Processor

Bale processors are another efficient and effective way to feed hay to your cattle. Basically, a bail processor finely chops hay; because of this, cows are less picky about which hay to eat. Ideally, however, the hay should be processed and fed on a daily basis, which requires a lot of work and energy from the farmer. 

The same goes for beef cattle: the best way to feed beef cattle is probably with a raised cattle feeder.

In summary, although a bunk feeder is fundamentally the most efficient way to feed cows hay, a blended approach such as feeding chopped hay in a cattle feeder may work best.

Which Feeders Are Good Ways to Feed Hay to Cattle?

There are plenty of cattle feeders out there. Here’s a snapshot of 4 really good cattle feeders. 

Bunk Feeder by Farmco

A bunk feeder, like Farmco’s bunk feeder, is a worthwhile, yet affordable investment. Whether it’s hay, silage, or TMR, a bunk feeder does the job efficiently and effectively.

red bunk feeder as one of best ways to feed beef cattle

In the case of Farmco’s bunk feeder, the sides are sloped so that the hay is consolidated; additionally, Farmco’s bunk feeder has welded slant bars to prevent cattle movement and feed waste.

Here are 5 other pros to a Farmco bunk feeder:

  1. Drain holes to eliminate excess moisture.
  2. Reinforced steel feeder legs.
  3. All feed bunks are made from 12-gauge metal.
  4. Bunk feeders large enough to accommodate 40 head of cattle
  5. 2-Part Polyurethane paint finish

Bextra by Tarter

A revolutionary bale ring design, the Bextra is a patented and efficient cattle feeder designed to minimize hay waste. What’s also great about this feeder, is that it comes with all assembly parts needed; plus, it’s an easy-to-use feeder.

On the flip side, it’s a bit expensive and can also be hard to load.

J & L Haysaver

With a cone/bale ring design, the J & L Haysaver is one of the best in its field. Available with 2” pipe skids below the feeder, it can be easily transported. What also keeps the J & L Haysaver feeder distinguished is its many variations, such as feeder height and neck rail height. Overall, it’s a great hay saver!

However, it’s heavy, expensive, and can be difficult to clean. But, in general, it’s a great feeder to feed dairy or beef cattle. 

700 DRB Cattle Feeder

How about encouraging cattle to take smaller bites? Or, how about keeping hay bales in the center of the feeder for minimal hay waste? The 700 DRB Cattle Feeder from Farmco does both and more.

exterior of high quality red and yellow 700 drb feeder as example of best way to feed hay to cattle

What also sets the 700 DRB apart is its super quick and simple cleaning process. To put it in perspective, it takes about 2 minutes to clean. No longer do you have to waste hours of time cleaning out your cattle feeder.

One downside of this cattle feeder is that it’s expensive.

Here are 5 other pros to a 700 DRB cattle feeder.

  1. Built from heavy-duty 12 gauge steel
  2. High-quality welds
  3. Coated with 2-part polyurethane paint
  4. 4 wheels with 15”x8” rims
  5. 180° front-turning dolly

We hope this overview of 4 different feeders gives you some good leads to purchasing a good cattle hay feeder for your farm.

We’ve actually dedicated an entire article to listing the top cattle feeders in the industry. Feel free to read this article for more cattle feeder info!

What is the Best Way to Feed Hay to Cattle in the Winter?

The best way to feed hay to cattle in the winter is with a hay rack, bunk feeder, hay ring, or some other type of cattle feeder. However, feeding hay in well-drained areas, feeding low-quality hay before high-quality hay, or feeding hay in smaller amounts in the winter are all other really good methods for feeding hay to cattle.

Here’s a table breakdown:

Method of Feeding Hay in WinterNotes
Hay FeederBest way to feed hay to cattle in the winter; long-term investment; often drastically reduces hay waste
Feeding hay in well-drained areasIdeas include gravel (crushed stone) or concrete
Feeding low-quality hay before high-quality hayIdea is that cows will waste a larger percentage of low-quality hay than high-quality hay; give lower-quality hay first then give high-quality hay later otherwise cattle will become too picky once they taste the high-quality hay
Feeding hay in smaller amounts in winterDaily feeding is best; smaller amounts require more feeding times, which equals more work; causes less waste (completely free method); do not have to invest in a feeder

It’s important to also gauge how much hay to feed cattle in the winter. Here’s a great article that talks in detail about how much hay to feed cattle in the winter.

Is Grinding Hay a Good Way to Feed Hay to Cattle?

Yes, in fact, grinding the hay makes it easier for the cattle to eat. Finely grinding the hay also helps prevent certain kinds of cattle from sorting through hay and only eating what they like best.

You could also mix it with silage, or put ground hay in the mixer for TMR. This helps give a balanced diet since you could add grain or other supplements into the mixer along with the hay.

skid loader dumping feed in feeder as example of best way to feed hay to cattle

How Do I Get My Cow to Eat Hay?

There are several main ways to get your cow to eat hay:

a large grey and red feeder as example of best way to feed hay to cattle

Wrapping it Up…

The best way to feed hay to cattle is to start with a feeder. We’re a bit biased toward our products, but we do have a dealer network nationwide and 25 years of experience behind us; so, if you’re interested, get a free quote on us!

Happy cattle farming!