Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

Automated Timed Feedings


Over the past few posts, I have been reviewing automated feeding options and providing you with some feeding innovations.  While these products are time savers,  if your need to obtain an automated feeder is based on your desire not to tend to your horse every day, then please reconsider purchasing an automated system.


The sole purpose of an automated feeding system is to allow you more time with your horse, knowing that feeding options will still be made.  Remember that feeders aren’t foolproof or horse proof.  Feeders potentially can become clogged, or worse yet, stuck in the open position.  Bored and inventive horses are notorious for playing  with anything within their reach.  And, if you own a horse such as my Phantom, he is known to rattle the feeder pipe to get those last few grain pellets, often disassembling the feeder.  Many times I entered the barn to find feed rations on the barn floor!

Automatic feeder manufacturers offer the ability to feed multiple, smaller meals per day as their selling point.  While this is a unique and attractive selling feature, horse owners that own these products still need to check their horses at a minimum of once per day to make sure he’s normal, eating well, no signs of wounds, lameness or illness.

As mentioned in a previous post, sweet feed can be problematic for some automatic grain feeders.  The molasses can build up on the sides of the feeder and can cause clogs and feeders would require hygiene maintenance to remove molasses building up and potential mould.  If you are feeding a sweet feet, it would be recommended that you switch to a pelleted horse feed or plain grains.

However, there are some very compelling  reasons for using an automatic feeder.  

Scheduling:  The pressures of work often mean erratic feeding schedules for your horses.  Remember that horses are creatures of habit and thrive on a fixed, consistent feeding schedule.  An automatic feeder can eliminate your feeding anxiety.

Boredom:  Horses in stalls become bored very quickly often with vices developing.  Free choice hay is one way to fight boredom but in most cases this can lead to weight gain.  Controlled amounts of hay being fed, along with pelleted grain feedings can help combat boredom and horses actually wait for their feeding ration.

Digestive Upset:  Horses benefit from frequent, small amount of meals rather than two or three large meals which can cause digestive upset.  If you cannot be at the barn to offer multiple feedings, an automatic feeder can fill in for you!

Metabolic Issues:  Again, horses suffering from Cushings or other Metabolic issues can benefit from frequent, small feedings.  With an automated feeding system, you can schedule low carb grain alternatives  to your horse throughout the day.  In addition, each of your horses can have a tailored feeding program.

Life Happens:  It is so nice to have an emergency backup plan, knowing that your horse will be fed on time.  Life happens and many times you are needed somewhere other than the barn.  We are now entering the winter months and bad weather can be a major obstacle.  Having an automated feeding system allows caretakers to be a bit more relaxed knowing that their horses will still receive their meals on time.


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