Feed Bins & Storage
Horse Feeders and Feed Storage
There are a variety of horse feeders available. Hay racks, mangers, feed bins and bags, concentrate feeders, and more are each designed to help your horse get the nutrients and variety he needs for a healthy life. Each style of feeder has its advantages. Some, like wall feeders, elevate food to help prevent fecal, dirt, and bedding contamination. Others, such as hay bags, are perfect for use in trailers while traveling to competitions or shows.
But care needs to be taken with all feeder types. Hay bags that are hung too low, for instance, can tangle your horse's feet when empty. Similarly, metal concentrate feeders can wear over time and the resulting sharp edges can cut your horse's neck, chin, tongue, or lips. However, it is the height at which most of these feeders are installed that poses the greatest health risk for your horse.
Hay racks, suspended concentrate feeders, and others are often installed above your horse's withers. This helps prevent him from becoming tangled in the feeder or wounded by its components should he panic while in the stall. But when feeders are elevated to this height, horses are forced to reach upwards to obtain their food. This posture causes an increase of inhaled dust and hay particles, which can cause respiratory distress. It also puts unnecessary strain on your horse's neck. Worse, this position can cause your horse to choke, may contribute to colic, and helps decrease the amount of nutrients your horse obtains from his food.
Wild horses graze vast grass and pasturelands for food. As a result, most of their food is consumed in a heads down position. Floor-level feeding mimics this natural posture and has many health benefits, including:
- Slowed Consumption - Horses are more relaxed while eating off the ground. As a result, they take smaller mouthfuls of food, more thoroughly chew it, and better mix it with saliva, which helps reduce the risk of choking and impaction colic
- Improved Nutrition - Since horses chew more and the hay or grain mixes better with saliva, food is better prepared for breakdown in the digestive tract. As a result, more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are absorbed from the food.
- Reduced Irritants - Your horse inhales less irritants when he eats with his head down. He also reduces the risk of irritants falling into his eyes. A lowered head also promotes airway drainage, which helps flush out any inhaled dust or hay particles.