The big mineral buffet feeder we use for the does is great for an all weather, year round stationary feeder but for something mobile, I had to brainstorm with a different idea. This post will detail two small animal mobile feeder designs we came up with and some low cost feeder cup options.
The first option uses a standard wire dog crate and is the easiest to put together. Filling it will be a bit more challenging because you need to reach in from the front. This feeder is ideal for poultry, rabbits and other small animals. It would work well for kids and lambs too.
The second option uses a horse panel, welded wire and the same trays. This was a bit trickier to put together but was made with scraps and has a lower cost. It can be filled from the top which is more convenient. I created this as a multi purpose mineral buffet feeder intended to work for my rabbits, chickens and adult goats. I'll detail how to make that work later in this article.
Mineral Buffet Feeder in a Crate
This mineral buffet feeder goes together quickly and can be put anywhere you need it. A piece of plywood or tin can be affixed to the top for all weather protection. You might even be able to use the tray that comes with the crate as a roof, but affixing it securely would be a bit of a challenge. Heavy snow would need to be manually removed for this feeder option. I like that this one is lightweight yet fully stable on its own with no anchoring.
The horizontal bars of the crate allow for many height options for the feeding cups. Because we're using this as a mineral buffet feeder for rabbits, we needed lower placement, but if you used this for a goat kid mineral feeder, you could go up one or two rows to place them at a height that they must stretch to reach in but which makes it more difficult for waste to drop into the cups.
As of summer 2022, the total cost for this feeder is about $200 if everything is purchased new. We used a crate we had on hand that was purchased for $25 or so from an estate sale. I like to collect these because they have so many uses. If buying used, it's a good idea to sanitize before using. The cups were recently purchased new for a total of $94 including shipping.
The first few cups can be added from the front, but at some point it will become necessary to tip the crate up on its back and attach the rest of the mineral cups from the more open wire spacing on the bottom. This obviously won't work once the feeders are filled, so you will likely need another set of hands if you need to replace or clean a single cup in the future.
A setup like this can be used for other purposes as well. If you have colony rabbits, a crate like this with cups can become a feeding station that would allow you to catch rabbits as needed.
For our multi purpose needs, however, this option won't work because adult Nigerian Dwarf goats can't easily fit and would quickly soil the cups, so I took the cups out to create another option, the horse panel mineral buffet feeder.
Horse Panel Mineral Buffet Feeder
Our chickens and rabbits have a one-quarter acre pastured area that is divided into three 50'x50' paddocks. I use those paddocks for temporary breeding pens for my goats as well, and for any confinement options I might need - they're currently housing a convalescing ewe who has a foot injury, for example.
Because we have varied uses in this area, I wanted to create a feeder that would allow the chickens and rabbits free access while also being accessible to all of my adult goats and sheep.
I use the 16' horse panels cut down for a variety of projects. The piece used here served as our kid creep hay feeder - 4" square holes are perfect for young kids to reach through. It measures 16" wide by 32" long and is 24" high. It doesn't need to be that high for feeding mineral buffet, but we saw no reason to cut it down either.
In this first photo, you can see a hole at the bottom left. That is the access hole for chickens and rabbits. I don't like creating bottlenecks and this has the potential to create bullying scenarios if that was the only hole, but you'll see we've created several more that allow goat heads to fit and will also allow small animals to exit. Tip: a bolt cutter works well to cut the heavy rods of the horse panel, but jagged edges can result so it may be necessary to follow up with a grinding tool.
Because the cups will not fit over the larger bars of the horse panel, we wired a strip of 2"x4" welded wire scrap to the horse panel rods and attached the cups to the wire. These wires will need to be tightened and secured to avoid accidental pokes. See also how it is necessary to adjust the positioning to offset since the 2"x4" wire is the same height as the panel squares. If you had 1" hardware cloth it would work even better, but this is what we have on hand.
As it is, it would work as a mineral buffet feeder for small animals, but since my goal was to create something for the goats too, we needed to cut some access holes above the feeders. It's hard to see in the photos (you can click to enlarge), but there are two holes on each long side and one hole on the short side that doesn't already have the access hole. These holes are made up of 4 squares and are large enough for even large--hornless--buck heads to fit through.
You could use it for a small goat herd and just eliminate the access hole for small animals. This is an ideal setup for 4-6 miniature goats or so and would be great for the buck pen if you only have a few.
All that's wanted now to make this an all-season outdoor and mobile mineral buffet feeder is to create some sort of roof. A piece of tin could be screwed to two 2"x2"s across the long side, but tin has sharp edges so efforts would need to be made to prevent cutting if you have animals who will jump on it, like goats. An industrial rubber floor mat could be attached in the same fashion as the tin--that's how we've secured the stall mat on our big feeder--and would provide both a weather proof roof and a comfy resting spot. My goats love to sleep on top of the big mineral buffet feeder.
We've got this feeder out in the chicken coop now and will begin rotating it through the breeding pens as needed, since chickens and rabbits can access those, too.
Overall these builds were easy and can be fairly cost effective depending on what is used to hold the trays. While other mineral cup options exist, I liked that these are built rabbit tough so should hold up for many years without replacing.