Guard dog feeding station with goats

In the Field: Movable Feeding Station for Guardian Dogs

Good guardian dogs are essential to the safety of the sheep and goat herds in a regenerative ranching operation. Using a movable feeding system helps keep your guardians’ nutrition close to their work as the herd is moved from one grazing paddock to another.

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  • Two 5-foot by 16-foot welded-wire horse panels
  • Two 8-foot pre-treated 2×4 boards
  • Wood screws
  • Self-tapping metal screws
  • 83 feet of 2-inch square pipe
  • 24 feet of 3-inch round pipe
  • One 36-inch piece of rebar
  • Four hinges to use on front and back doors
  • Two locking latches, one for each door
  • 50-pound capacity galvanized dog feeder (Suggested: Pet Lodge Chow Hound automated feeder)
  • Two 40-inch by 96-inch sheets of barn tin or corrugated steel roofing material
  • 50-pound bag of dog food

NOTE: Finished cage dimensions are 50″ W x 96″ L x 52″ H

Building a guard dog feeder.
Happy dog sitting.

4 Things to Consider When Building and Using a Movable Feeding Station.

  1. Why two doors? The front door helps in training the dogs to use the feeder cage, and the back door gives you an easy way to check and fill the automatic feeder.
  2. These portable feeders can be moved with a side-by-side, making them pretty simple to transport as the herds are moved.
  3. Our ranch team found the best way to train your dogs to use the guard dog feeder is to bend back a bottom corner of the door of the galvanized feeder. This allows the dog to smell the feed and become interested in pushing the door open.
  4. The best way to teach your dogs to use the opening is place them inside the cage to feed, then lock the front and back doors, so they can exit only through the triangular “dog door” opening. Be patient until they’re used to the feeder.


Building the cage:

NOTE: The photos show the project made with a goat research cage we repurposed, but you can build a new one using 2-inch square pipe and two horse panels.

  1. Construct a frame that is 50 inches wide by 96 inches long by 52 inches high. We suggest vertical supports in the middle of each long side.
  2. Build doors on the front and back with square pipe, hinges and goat-proof latches.
  3. Cut the horse panels to size, and then weld to the sides and the front and back doors, but leave the cage bottom open so the dogs don’t catch their toenails or otherwise injure themselves. The barn-tin roof will be attached later.

Building the sled:

  1. To make the cage portable, make a sled out of 3-inch round pipe.
  2. Weld the pipe together in a squared-off “U” shape, with the bottom of the “U” as the front of the sled.
  3. The front of the sled should extend past the cage a few inches and be angled upward to make it easier to pull behind a side-by-side or other UTV without hitting obstacles and breaking.
  4. After fastening the sled to the bottom of the cage, stitchweld at intervals along the inside and outside of the pipes to reinforce the connection of the round and square pipes.
  5. Make a “U”-shaped pull handle out of rebar and weld it to the center of the front of the sled for use in transport.

Building the dog entrance:

  1. In the front/entry door of the cage, build an opening for the dogs — but not the sheep or goats — to enter and exit safely.
  2. Start by building a frame out of pre-treated 2×4’s to cover the cuts you’ll make in the horse panel – one triangle for the inside and one for the outside of the panel.
  3. Cut two boards at 26.5 inches for tops of the triangles, and two at 9.5 inches for the bottoms.
  4. Cut four boards for the sides at 20 inches, with a 7° angle on the top and bottom of the boards.
  5. Assemble the two triangles with wood screws.
  6. Locate one triangle in the horizontal center of the entry door, with the narrow side (cut-off point of the triangle) facing down about 12 inches from the ground.
  7. Use a pen or marker to mark the interior edges of the triangle on the horse panel.
  8. Cut a hole in the horse panel, using an angle grinder or cutting torch to trim the wires about ½ inch back from each mark, so the wire ends will be covered by the wood.
  9. Use wood screws to attach the wooden triangles in front of and behind the horse panel, sandwiching the wire and providing a smooth frame to allow the dogs to jump safely into or out of the cage.

TIP: Why the triangle? In past designs, we cut a square opening at the bottom of the panel, but quickly learned that a curious goat can squeeze through a lower opening, especially goats that had been fed dog food before we acquired them! If you only have sheep, a lower square opening would be fine for the dogs.

Goats standing around a guard dog feeder.

Finishing touches:

  1. Open the back gate and attach the dog food self-feeder to the inside of the gate at a good height for your dogs. We used screws into a block of wood, but the feeder can be attached with wire or other fasteners.
  2. Fill the feeder.
  3. Attach the roof by fastening the barn tin to the square-pipe frame with self-tapping screws, overlapping the two panels in the middle to fit the cage.

TIP: Adding a roof adds shade for the dogs and will keep the food fresher longer.

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2 comments on “In the Field: Movable Feeding Station for Guardian Dogs

    1. Ultimately, the goats would have the ability to go through the opening, but the height of the hole will deter them. With that said, there are 2 important factors to keep your goats from dining on your LGD food: (1) Assure your goats have access to ample feed to not spike their interest and (2) if you do have a curious goat then it will be important to separate that goat from the herd before they teach the remaining livestock.

      Please also remember, this solution will only work if your goats have not been previously exposed to dog food, otherwise you likely will not be able to stop their actions.