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How to Make a Hay Feeder Out of a Plastic Barrel

| Updated September 26, 2017

A homemade hay feeder that is suspended from a rail keeps hay from getting soggy, wet or trampled when it is on the ground. The hay feeder is inexpensive to make and saves money by not wasting hay that your horses or cows won't eat.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic barrel (55-gallon drum).

  • Dish soap.

  • Water.

  • Permanent marker.

  • Rotary cutter.

  • 3/4-inch drill bit.

  • Drill.

  • Two U-bolts (5/16-by-1 3/4-by-4 1/4 inch).

  • Four hex nuts.

  • 60-grit sandpaper.

Remove the lid from a plastic barrel and wash the barrel and inside of the lid thoroughly with dish soap to remove any residue. Rinse the barrel and inside of the lid to remove the soap.

Replace the lid on the plastic barrel. Lay the barrel on its side. The height of the barrel is horizontal with the bottom and top on either end when the barrel is on its side.

Draw a rectangle on the center of the barrel approximately 24 inches long and 20 inches tall with a permanent marker.

Cut along the marked lines with a rotary cutter and remove the plastic rectangle. Sand the cut opening with 60-grit sandpaper.

Hold the barrel up next to the horizontal corral or stall rail where you want to hang it. Place it next to the rail with the top of the cut out horizontal opening facing upward. Mark the barrel horizontally where it touches the horizontal rail with a permanent marker.

Place a 3/4-inch drill bit in a drill. Hold one of the U-bolts so it straddles the horizontal line on the barrel approximately 3 inches from the barrel's lid. Mark two dots where the U-bolt's two legs are. Repeat this same procedure to mark the other end of the barrel near the bottom.

Drill a 3/4-inch hole on each of the four dots. Insert the legs of the U-bolts around the fence, corral or stall rail at about chest height of your cow or horse, insert the legs through the barrel. Screw the hex screws onto the protruding legs of the U-bolt inside of the barrel through the opening. Repeat this process to add the second U-bolt around the railing and into the barrel.

Drill one 3/4-inch hole on each end at the bottom of the barrel as it hangs for water drainage.

Sand the drainage holes with coarse 60-grit sandpaper. Wash the hay feeder out with a garden hose to remove all pieces of sanding from the barrel so they drain out the drain holes on the bottom.


  • When purchasing U-bolts note that they have hex screws included in the package.