Top 7 Benefits of an Automatic Horse Feeder
Still wondering if an automatic horse feeder is an investment worth making?
The price can seem steep upfront, but as many horse owners are learning, that upfront cost can very quickly be made up in the savings that a good feeder can provide. You'll essentially be buying yourself time, convenience, and healthier horses. If you're still on the fence about purchasing an automatic horse feeder for your stable, here's a list of seven benefits to consider.
1) It's Convenient
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of using an auto feeder is the convenience. A feeder can be set to feed as many times throughout a day as needed, meaning you can make fewer trips to the stable. It also means your horses can eat many smaller meals during the course of a day versus two larger meals. An auto feeder also buys peace of mind. If you run into an expected scheduling issue, you won't need to worry about finding someone else to get to the stable to do a feeding. By timing it so your horse is fed and ready to work before you get to the barn, it also means you get more quality time with your animals.
2) Timed Feeding Improves Digestion
Horses' digestive systems work best when provided with consistent, small amounts of food. When allowed to feed naturally, a horse would graze for most of the day. It would never have a stomach that was completely full or completely empty. In addition to preventing ulcers and colic (which we'll discuss more in the next section), timed feedings provide the optimal amount of food at the optimal intervals, ensuring the horse gets the full nutritional value from the food it's eating. Proper digestion also means you'll have a better performing horse.
3) Automatic Horse Feeders Prevent Colic and Ulcers
Horses are foragers. In an ideal world, they would all have large, grassy tracts on which to graze consistently throughout the day as nature intended. Their digestive system is designed to handle small and consistent portions of food. Their stomachs, which are relatively small, can only hold three to five gallons at a time and move food into the intestines quickly. Understanding how the horse's digestive system functions is key to understanding why horses benefit from an automatic feeder that provides consistent small amounts of food. When a horse eats a large meal in one sitting, its small stomach struggles to properly digest the food, moving it into the intestines without yet being fully digested. This can lead to a form of colic (pain in the abdomen). At best, colic is a painful affliction for a horse. At worse, it can be life-threatening. Conversely, when a horse has an empty stomach, it can suffer from ulcers, as their digestive systems continue to produce acids despite there being nothing for the acids to break down. These acids can irritate the stomach lining, causing the horse pain and discomfort. Improper feeding can cause both stomach ulcers and colic. Both of these conditions can be at least partially attributed to being fed on "our" schedule -- generally, two larger meals a day. To avoid colic and ulcers, consider an automatic feeder. The "set it and forget it" nature of the feeder means your horse is able to eat on a schedule that is much closer to what nature intended, reducing the risk of severe digestive problems.
4) An Automatic Horse Feeder Can Save Money
Purchasing a feeder presents an upfront cost, but it may well pay for itself sooner than you expect. If your horse has improved digestion, you might find you're spending less money on expensive veterinarian visits and ulcer medications. It can also save you money on labor if you would otherwise need to pay someone to visit the horse to feed more often than you're able to.
5) Less Food Waste
Like most of the things you buy for your horse, quality feed isn't cheap. A good automatic feeder can help reduce food waste. Many horses drop and trample large amounts of hay when given a large quantity at once, causing waste. A feeder will restrict food access and dispense smaller amounts, meaning less food will end up uneaten on the ground.
6) Helps Prevent Anxiety, Vices, and Excitement
Horses enjoy being fed, that's no secret. They also don't enjoy being hungry. This can lead to two issues. One, if your horse sits in a stall with an empty stomach for any length of time, it may increase the likelihood that he or she will develop a vice, like woodsucking or cribbing. A stressed or anxious horse will also have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in its system, potentially leading to more health issues down the line. Two, a horse that has an empty stomach and knows it's almost feeding time can become excitable, which is not the safest or healthiest scenario. A horse that is fed small portions throughout the day won't have as strong a reaction to food and will be a calmer, less-anxious horse.
7) Keeps Food Cleaner and off the Ground
Despite the fact that a horse would normally graze directly from the ground, it still may not be in their best interest to eat hay that way. Firstly, ground feeding can increase their intake of dirt and sand. Eating too much of this can attribute to abdominal discomfort or colic. Ground feeding can also increase the number of parasites that a horse consumes. Parasites can cause colic, discomfort, or bloating. A feeder will help keep food clean, safe, and off the ground.
Learn More About the Benefits of an Automatic Horse Feeder
As you have read, the investment in an automatic horse feeder can be a smart one. They are a convenient way to save you money and time, in addition to supporting the best health of your horse. Visit our online store here to get answers to all your questions about feeders, learn more about our company, and discover your options so you can choose the best feeder for your needs.