My first hay/haylage feeders were built from spare lumber. I do everything I can to minimize my hay costs. This has more do do with the time it takes to haul round bales to the farm than with the price of the bales. I have found with time that the round bale feeders that are most efficient (have the least amount of wasted hay/haylage) are the ones that are like a giant covered dinner plate. This type of round bale feeder prevents the 30% or more hay/haylage loss that one gets with other round bale feeding methods. Even though I am baling my own hay now, I try to minimize loss.
For a small cattle operation like mine, where a round bale will last for a week, it is best to have the round bale feeder covered. If it is not covered and it rains, the hay/haylage in the bottom rots and you loose 20% or more of your hay. For larger operations with more cattle, the bale is eaten so fast that a cover is probably not needed.
Andrew Stickler & Mitchell C. Stickler: the goal of this website is to assist those who are considering raising livestock for the first time.