Self-feeder makes light work of finishing sheep

Eddie Steenkamp who farms sheep, near Hopefield in South Africa, needed a feeding system that could be operated without help over weekends. He prefers to use pelleted, nutritionally balanced feed to finish sheep and get them ready for the market.

“The most practical thing was to feed pellets from self-feeders. I needed a workable feeder that was durable, cheap and mobile.”

‘I needed a workable feeder that was durable, cheap and mobile.’

One of the problems with feeding from open containers is that sheep in good condition can be picky eaters, and leftovers pile up in the feeders.
Undaunted, Eddie developed and built his own self-feeder.

The model  

A plastic drum, or bin, acts as a feed reservoir, and an old truck tyre is the feeder. One person can fill the bin, which holds 120 kg of pellets. The opening between the side of the drum and the cone is the right size to fill up the feed at the same pace that the sheep eat. “Because the cone is angled so that no pellets are left inside the bin reservoir, waste is at an absolute minimum,” says Eddie.


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  1. Eddie uses a plastic 210 litre bin with a hole in the one side. He cuts off the other side. He also cuts off half of a truck tyre. “I had to make two moulds; one to make the cone and the lid, and another for the rain cover.”
  2. The rain cover is optional, says Eddie. “It moves over the side of the bin and fits snugly around the bin’s outside edge. It’s strengthened by three supportive pieces of flatbar. We needed a cover, because we have a lot of dew, which makes the feed wet and soft, leading to waste.”
  3. The cone, which can be seen underneath the bin, has three pillars bolted onto the bin and its bottom is just big enough to fit inside the inner ring of the truck tyre. The cone is attached to the tyre with four pieces of angle iron to form a solid unit. The lid fits in the hole on top of the bin and keeps birds and moisture out. It’s kept in place with a rubber rope that has two eyes at the end. The rubber rope is tied through a hole on the one side of the bin so it can’t pull out.
  4. The tyre gives weight to the feeder so that the wind won’t blow it over when it’s empty. Once empty, it’s turned on its side and rolled over. Remnant loose pellets in one side of the tyre are scraped out by hand. “Then it’s clean and ready for the next batch of feed.”


The empty bin from the top


The pellets will fall through into the tyre that will act as the feeding trough.


The feeder is small enough for one person to move easily.

“It’s important to move it regularly, as the animals tend to create a ditch from constant movement over the same area if the feeder stays in one place for too long.”

“Thanks to the unit’s capacity of 120 kg, it’s much easier to deliver the correct amount of pellets for different groups of sheep. Each group can be provided with their specific type of feed, like fattening up old ewes while their lambs get creep pellets in a creep pen.”

Eddie makes and sells these feeders at request.

Enquiries: Eddie Steenkamp, email:

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