The donkeys and I have all become very fond of the outdoor feeding trough we built last July! I still use slow feeder hay bags morning and night but during the day, weather permitting, I put a mix of hay and straw in the trough and they come and go.
I'm not comfortable heaping it in there though, as I am paying close attention to weigh and body condition, so I can't say I'm feeding free choice but it is so regular that I'm hoping their metabolisms are settled into a comfortable place of fairly constant digestion.
They have access to some bush too.
I am really trying to minimize food-related stress - an important thing to notice especially with multiple animals competing for food. They have a tendency to gobble or bully or over eat. So by leaving food for them, this settles down. It has to be the "right" food though - low in protein, sugars and starch and high in fiber. Sadly, I have yet to find this "perfect" fiber (hay or straw!) so I am still doing a bit of monitoring and doling out.
Anyway, this post was supposed to be about troughs ... I was so disappointed at the thought of not being able to use the outdoor trough during wet weather that I was searching for solutions. My first thought was to build a roof over the whole thing - big enough to keep the donkeys dry as well as the hay. But the ground still might get muddy, rain still might blow in, snow might too!
Solution # 2- re-create the trough inside the barn - but where? The barn has smallish-stalls and a centre aisle and I need to create something that is not an obstruction or potentially dangerous as donkeys come and go.
Hmmm ... aha! A solution! Build four new feed troughs into the corners!
These were simple to make. We filled in sides and backs with plywood, then simply angled the front boards across a corner and attached PVC pipe along the top with metal strapping. The ends of the PVC go into uprights or are cut snug at an angle into the wall, so no sharp edges and no chewing the top rails either!
Three built and one to go - the donkeys love them and they are standing on the dry barn floor while eating too!