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Automated Feeders - Any experience with them?

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  • Automated Feeders - Any experience with them?

    I rent my own property and thusly save an insane amount on board every month. I work from home, so until recently I've been able to handle all barn chores and blanketing needs myself. It's been great, and it's allowed me to purchase a second horse, which was not in the cards previously while boarding.

    I am being considered for a new position that will change my schedule drastically. I don't want to move my horses, even though the new job comes with a raise, because having my own little place is great and I love the privacy.

    Does anyone have any experience with automated feeders? I'm looking into buying them, even though they're pretty pricey (the model I'm looking at is $350 per.) If they work well, it's completely worth the cost, considering the cost of hiring someone to do morning feedings or worse, moving them down the street to the boarding barn (4x the cost per month, per horse.)

    This is the model I'm looking into -

  • #2
    What are you feeding now and what would you plan on putting into the feeder?


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by Haven'tJumpedInALongTime View Post
      What are you feeding now and what would you plan on putting into the feeder?
      They have access to 24/7 pasture and hay through in and out stall access, so this would just handle morning grain feeding. Pelleted stuff (mix of Nutrena Safechoice Senior and Perform.) Dry and not sticky at all.


      • #4
        If your schedule changes, couldn't your horses' change too? Instead of feeding at 7:00 am and pm, how about noon and midnight? Horses are pretty adaptable, and if you are still able to space out their feedings enough on the new schedule, there's no need to hire someone or try to find an automatic feeder.


        • #5
          I have had experience with automatic feeders, but not the type you referenced. My experience has been when they work properly, they are the greatest thing on earth! However, they are not 100% reliable, batteries die without warning, parts wear out, the feeder balance gets unbalanced so things don't work properly, etc. That said, I love using automatic feeders....always knowing that I'll be home at some point in case something went wrong and horsie didn't get fed when I expected the feeder to feed him.


          • #6
            I would first consider, since this is for once a day only, if they really need that feeding, with pasture and free choice hay all day?


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by Bluey View Post
              I would first consider, since this is for once a day only, if they really need that feeding, with pasture and free choice hay all day?
              Unfortunately one of my horses is a really hard keeper TB mare. I've considered reducing the feedings but with all of the time and money I've put into putting weight on her, and the fact that it's getting colder, I'm apprehensive to reduce. She's the first horse II've owned that will skip hay altogether sometimes, very picky, so the grain is a big part of her diet.


              • #8
                Automatic things tend to malfunction, don't know how often one such may.
                If it only has one meal in it, it won't hurt, won't dump it all at once and get too much out there.

                Would it make sense to add a barn camera you can use to monitor that it is working, maybe thru your phone?


                • #9
                  How will you make sure the horse that needs the grain will be the one getting the grain? (Are they in separate pastures?)

                  I like the idea of just shifting their feeding times. Horses do not know about the human rules for meals.


                  • #10
                    I feed late, around 9 or 9:30 p.m. so I know the hay they get in their 1" hole nets will last them almost all night long and they will still be nibbling it during the wee hours when the temps plummet. I also feed my hard keeper his second "mush bucket" then, via a nose bag--while he eats I fill more hay nets, check water, set up soaking beet pulp for the next day, do a minor re-pick of the shed. I'm not back up to the house till 10 or 10:30, but I know they're set for the night by feeding late AND I don't have to rush out at the crack of dawn to feed in the morning--I can enjoy a cup of coffee in my jammies and then go feed. Works out great for me and my guys.


                    • #11
                      I've got the kind that feed hay. You can add grain in pockets. They are wonderful. Its great to know that they get their 7 am feeding, even if I come in at 7:15. Out of 3, one gets wonky, but never to the point where it won't feed. I say, get them. They will make your life easier, and if one stops working, you'll see it later that day. Your horse will be fine. Cars break, too, but no one refuses to buy them because of it.


                      • #12
                        I use the IFeed system and I really like it. I used Timothy pellets and add rice bran nuggets to it for the harder keepers. We have it drop feed every 2 house. Amount is adjustable by horse. I really like ifeed


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks everyone for your input! I think there is a part of me that wants to buy them just to take the pressure off? Now that it's all on me, there is a level of anxiety that I feel like would lift slightly with a robot feeder

                          fancy.pants and TullyMars , would you mind sharing the models you guys have?