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The Best Hay Feeders For Cattle: 2022 Guide

exterior snapshot of cows by best cattle hay feeder for sale in PA

What is the best hay feeder for cattle? Go to pretty much any cattle auction, farm-country diner, or internet farmers forum and you’ll find that this question is debated endlessly! This article is our contribution to the discussion.

This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list of cattle feeders. There are way too many cattle feeders on the market to compare them all in a single article.

We’ve tried to compile a list of cattle hay feeders that spans a range of dimensions: price, bale type, materials, feeding location, and more. To compile our list of the “best” cattle hay feeders, we considered user feedback, product innovation, and our own professional opinion. We hope it will provide you with a helpful starting point as you research the best hay feeder for your cattle!

FeederTypeBale SizeMaterial(s)ProsCons
700 DRB by FarmcoFeeder WagonLarge Round/Large SquarePainted SteelEasy to move, easy to clean, keeps hay off the ground, trough catches scraps, durable steel constructionExpensive
Bextra by TarterCone/Bale RingLarge RoundPainted SteelHay savings, ease of useExpensive for a bale ring, hard to load
8R ST by J & L HaysaversCone/Bale RingLarge RoundPainted SteelHay savingsExpensive for a bale ring, heavy, difficult to clean
HaySmart Bale Feeder by BehlenBale RingLarge RoundPainted SteelDurability, hay savingsHeavy, expensive for a bale ring
One Bale Feeder by Ranchers Livestock EquipmentBale RingLarge SquarePainted SteelDurabilityHeavy, expensive for a bale ring

700 DRB by Farmco

Link: https://www.farmco.ag/cattle-feeders/hay-feeder-700drb/

Type: Feeder Wagon

Bale Size: Large Round/Large Square

Material(s): Painted Steel

Pros: Easy to move, easy to clean, keeps hay off the ground, trough catches scraps, durable steel construction

Cons: Expensive

exterior of 700DRB for best hay feeders for cattle for sale

We are obviously partial to our own products, given the amount of time we’ve spent developing them! We’ve refined our cattle feeders through decades of customer feedback, trial/error, and hard work. We honestly think we have some of the world’s best round bale feeders for cattle.

The 700 DRB Series is one of our most popular cattle feeder lines. It’s a cattle feeder wagon constructed from heavy-duty steel and designed to feed large round or square bales. 15×8 wheels come standard, meaning the 700 DRB can easily be placed at any feeding location. The rear gate makes loading bales a breeze.

We designed this feeder with a focus on minimizing hay waste. As the bale is eaten, the built-in trough catches scraps so they can be consumed instead of being trampled. Plus, keeping bales off the ground prevents waste from ground moisture. 10’ models feature an optional roof kit for additional protection against moisture.

“EZ Clean-Out” racks can be added to help keep bales centered during feeding while simplifying the process of cleaning the feeder. The addition of galvanized sheet inserts allows the feeder to be converted for feeding green chop, silage, or TMR.

The only major downside to this cattle hay feeder is its price. The all-steel construction, high-quality paint, and wheeled chassis mean this is not the cheapest cattle feeder on the market. However, most users still find that the hay savings pay for the feeder within several years, and the feeder itself is built to last decades.

The 700 DRB Series includes models from 10’ to 30’ in length, with feeding capacity for up to 52 head at a time. It is available directly from Farmco or through our distributor network. Due to the size/weight of this feeder, we recommend requesting a quote in order to get accurate pricing that includes up-to-date freight costs.

Bextra by Tarter

Link: https://tarterusa.com/tarter-products/bextra-feeder-bbthf

Type: Cone/Bale Ring

Bale Size: Large Round

Material(s): Painted Steel

Pros: Hay savings, ease of use

Cons: Expensive for a bale ring, hard to load

exterior of bextra best hay feeder for sale and cow

Photo: Bextra

The Bextra feeder (now sold by Tarter®) was considered a major innovation when it debuted in the mid-2000s. Thanks to the great hay savings it offers, it’s still one of the best hay rings for cattle today.

The patented design of the Bextra feeder is considered one of the best for hay-saving bale rings. A band of steel skirting around the bottom of the feeder keeps hay scraps contained, while the open “cone” upper section keeps bales centered as they’re eaten.

Research from the University of Oklahoma demonstrated hay loss of only 6% with this cattle feeder design, compared to over 20% hay waste with low-cost “open” bale rings. (This video gives details of the study.)

The Bextra feeder is incredibly durable. However, its heavy-duty construction means it’s also quite heavy. The weight of the Bextra feeder can make it a bit more difficult to transport than some other cattle hay feeders. This is also one of the more expensive bale ring cattle feeders available, though this is to be expected given the quality of materials used in its fabrication.

Some users have complained that this feeder can be difficult to load if there is even a small bit of variation in the size of the hay bale (including sagging bales). Several others have mentioned that small calves can have difficulty reaching the hay as the bale is eaten down. All in all, though, this is one of the best cattle hay feeder rings on the market.

The Bextra feeder is available on the Tarter® website or through their network of retailers. There is also a square bale version of the feeder, although this model is less common.

8R ST by J & L Haysavers

Link: http://www.jandlhaysavers.com/our-products.html

Type: Cone/Bale Ring

Bale Size: Large Round

Material(s): Painted Steel

Pros: Hay savings

Cons: Expensive for a bale ring, heavy, difficult to clean

exterior of jl haysaver for best hay feeders for cattle

Photo: J & L Haysavers

Also in the “cone” bale ring category, the 8R ST is one of many hay-saving feeders built by J & L Haysavers. Fabricated in Dry Run, PA, these feeders are the go-to choice for many farmers, especially in the eastern USA. The company has been building cattle hay feeders since the mid-1980s and has some of the best cattle hay rings available.

The 8R ST is fundamentally a round bale feeder with an 8’ diameter. However, the key differentiator of this feeder is the cone-shaped center made from 2” steel pipe. The top of the feeder stands 6-½’ high and bales are placed over the top of the cone using a loader.

The feeder has a ring of 26” steel skirting around the bottom to keep hay contained as the bale is eaten. A plywood floor catches scraps for cleanup. The feeder weighs around 1200lbs in total.

One of the primary complaints about this feeder is the difficulty of cleaning out hay scraps due to the solid-welded pipes. However, the hay-saving nature of the feeder means that cleanout should be fairly infrequent.

Price is another point of consideration with the 8R ST. The high-quality construction of J & L Haysavers places them on the more expensive end of bale ring options.

The 8R ST feeder is listed on the J & L Haysavers website, along with a range of other cone-style cattle hay feeders for both round and square bales.

HaySmart Bale Feeder by Behlen®

Link: https://www.behlencountry.com/product/haysmart-bale-feeder/

Type: Bale Ring

Bale Size: Large Round

Material(s): Painted Steel

Pros: Durability, hay savings

Cons: Heavy, expensive for a bale ring

exterior photo of great haysmart feeder for best cattle hay feeders for sale

Photo: Behlen

Behlen® Country Farm and Ranch Equipment has been a staple producer of welded and fabricated farm products since the first half of the 20th century. The HaySmart feature is one of their relatively new innovations, but it’s a good one.

The HaySmart feeder is based on the “cone” design that’s known to provide the best haysavings of any bale ring type. However, the HaySmart simply uses chains to create the cone, rather than solid-welded tubing. This has several advantages, as it allows individual chains to be replaced separately if there is damage. Plus, the chains provide an easy way to hook the feeder to a loader for transportation.

The HaySmart comes in 3 sections which are bolted together. This bolt-together design simplifies feeder delivery and setup, but could be a weak point compared to solid-welded designs. Solid steel skirting around the bottom of the feeder keeps scraps contained as they fall from the bale suspended in the cone.

Weighing in at about 630lbs, the HaySmart is heavier than many other bale rings (though lighter than some on this list). It’s also a bit more expensive than many of the simpler bale ring designs out there. However, most users have found the hay savings to be excellent and it’s considered one of the best ways to feed hay to cattle.

The HaySmart Bale Feeder is listed on the Behlen® website and is distributed through a network of dealers across North America.

One Bale Feeder by Ranchers Livestock Equipment

Link: https://www.rancherslivestockequipment.com/feedingequipment

Type: Bale Ring

Bale Size: Large Square

Material(s): Painted Steel

Pros: Durability

Cons: Heavy, expensive for a bale ring

exterior photo of bale feeder for best cattle hay feeders for sale in PA

Photo: Tractor House

The bale feeders from Rancher’s Livestock Equipment just might be the most heavy-duty cattle hay feeders in the world. Built in Gregory, South Dakota, these feeders are designed for use in the tough conditions of a mid-western ranch.

The One Bale Feeder is an 8.5’ square of heavy-gauge metal piping. Skirting extends 21” high around the feeder to help keep hay contained as the bale is eaten down. Two ends of the feeder are raised 6” off the ground to facilitate towing the feeder between feeding locations on pasture.

At 730lbs, this is one solid feeder! In fact, the company also builds 2-, 3-, and 5-bale versions of the feeder with weights up to 2150lbs!

The weight of the feeder does mean it’s a bit hard to transport to and around the farm. Plus, all that steel comes at a cost, making this one of the more expensive bale ring options on the market. However, many farmers and ranchers across the Great Plains region still promote this as their pick for the best cattle hay feeder.

Ranchers Livestock Equipment lists their bale feeders on their website and sells them through a network of dealers based primarily in the Midwestern United States.


We hope this list was a helpful resource! If you’re interested, we’ve got another article on bunk feeders for cattle! We talked a lot about hay feeders; so, if you would like to learn more about hay, read our article on square hay bales. We wish you success as you search for the best cattle hay feeder for your farm!