Horses are beautiful animals and they provide us with more than just assistance with work, they are good company and they have great personalities. Feeding them with the right nutrition daily helps keep them healthy and happy.
Selecting a feeder for a horse is done by assessing your horse’s needs. The number of horses you have as well as the type of feed they will eating is a huge deciding factor. The location and height of the feeder are also variables that you need to consider.
Feeding management is an important part of raising any type of livestock. Horses sometimes need a little more care and attention than other animals and they will thank you for it with love and affection.
Having the right type of feeder for your horse will make the feeding process much easier and will waste less of the feed.
Horses can be expensive and saving any money that you can by using the correct equipment will keep them from needing expensive veterinarian bills.
We’ve put together this resource to help you decide which type of horse feeder suits your horse’s needs and works the best with your environment.
How Horses Feed
Horses have been transplanted from their natural environments to farms, ranches, and barns. They are grazers that want to feed all day long. Many people who raise horses often overlook this.
We all have schedules and responsibilities, we have to take kids to school, go to work, and make a living. With all of that, it is easy to lose sight of how our horses are supposed to feed.
Horses need to be able to have access to feed throughout the day. If you only feed them in the morning and evening, they end up being hungry, upset and bored most of the day.
When they are left in stalls and paddocks they have nothing to entertain them or keep them busy. They want to eat. Their stomachs will ache for food if they are not given feed throughout the day.
Horse feeders make sure they have something to munch on and keeps them happy while providing them with the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
Why Feeders are Better
Feeders provide the best feed management for a horse. It allows them to feed whenever they are hungry and keeps a fresh supply of hay or grains on hand. If you are considering whether or not you should have a feeder, the answer is yes!
Feeders also keep the hay from mixing with their bedding and feces which can cause health problems with a horse. They need clean feed and water.
Feeders come in all shapes and sizes and give you multiple options for feeding your horses. Horses need constant access to feed, so putting them in stalls and out in paddocks will give them what they need.
There are feeders that hold both grains and hay so the horse can get a balanced diet.
Types of Horse Feeders
Since there are many types of horse feeders you will need to decide which one best suits your horse’s needs. We have done a lot of research for you, so take notes!
Types of horse feeders:
- Wall-mounted feeders
- Ground feeders
- Slow feeders
- Hay feeder bowls
- Round bale feeders
These feeders each have different designs but they all have the same results, feeding your horses. Let’s take a closer look at each one and how they cater to different needs.
These feeders mount to the wall and have a container that is usually made from plastic or metal. You have the option of filling these up with hay or grains and they are usually large enough to feed one horse all day long.
If you have more than one horse you will need to consider having a longer trough style mounted feeder that holds more feed or having one mounted feeder per horse. By having it mounted on the wall and slightly elevated it helps horses that have arthritis get easy access to their feed.
They are great for the inside of stalls since they are usually just small enough and just large enough to fit. Some of them are designed to attach to the end of the stall and some fit inside of a corner.
Ground feeders are units that hold enough feed for a whole day and lay on the ground. These are great for horses because it mimics their grazing posture by having them lean down to the ground to pull out the hay.
They come in many shapes and sizes with ones that are long enough to feed multiple horses and ones small enough to fit in individual stalls.
We prefer ground feeders for younger horses that can lean down without any trouble.
Slow feeders are designed for horses that want to eat their food too fast. They are made so that the horse must figure out how to remove small amounts of hay from different holes in netting or compartments.
With hanging slow feeders the netted bag will sway back and forth, so not only does it help slow the amount of feed they can eat it also keeps them entertained!
These feeders come in many shapes and sizes that are all designed to slow your horses feeding down.
Hay Feeder Bowls
Bowl feeders are a great inexpensive feeder that is usually made from metal or plastic. They are smaller than the other types of feeders but still hold enough feed for your horse to eat from throughout the day.
They have hooks that let them hang from the ceiling or they can be placed directly onto the ground. These feeders fit nicely in individual stalls and can be placed in corners for easy access.
Round Bale Feeders
If you plan on your horses being outdoors all day then a round bale feeder may be the best option for you. These are large feeders that are usually round, which fits a whole bale of hay.
They are perfect for feeding multiple horses on a nice day. When choosing a round bale feeder you may want to consider one that is covered to keep the hay from getting rained on or molding.
Grain Feeders for Horses
Most of the mounted feeders, ground feeders, and bucket feeders can also hold grain instead of hay. However, some horses that get worked more than others need a little more than just hay in their diets.
The grains give them added energy which makes them a much better work helper and allows them to travel further when riding them.
Combo Hay Feeders
There is also the option of having a combo feeder that has two compartments, one for hay and one for grains and pellets. This is a great choice for horses that need variety while using only one feeder.
Some combo feeders have a slot for both feed and water which also makes for a nice combination, keeping things simple and contained.
Feeders are made from metal, plastic, rubber, and netting. If you are using a plastic feeder you may want to make sure that it is BPA-free. If your feeder is going to be in direct sunlight or outdoors you may want to consider a feeder that is metal instead of plastic.
There is also an option of buying weather and sun-proof plastic or rubber feeders that will still hold up outdoors.
How Much Feed Does a Horse Need
Horses should have enough feed to last them throughout the day. Because they are grazing animals, they prefer to be able to eat when they are hungry rather than having timed feedings twice per day.
That’s why horse feeders are so important, they provide the horse with means of having enough feed to keep them full, healthy and also provides them with something to do.
Safest Round Bale Feeders
There are many types of round bale feeders and some of them have better designs than others. Some are round, some are square (despite round being in the name).
The safest round bale feeder is one that has large metal rings instead of a tightly closed square grid feeder. The grid feeder helps them slow feed but the larger metal rings give them more headspace and keep them from getting lodged into the feeder.
Can horses eat just hay? Most horses need a balanced diet of hay and grains since they need a lot of energy for working and riding. The hay gives them most of what they need and the concentrates and grains give them the rest. You may also need vitamins and supplements such as salt.
Cany horses sleep outside? Horses can sleep outside but to keep your horses in top condition some say they are best kept in a barn. However, they can be kept outdoors in a paddock and allowed to sleep and eat, provided that the weather is not too cold or rainy. Horses sleep standing up but they also do like to lay down to get good sleep. Paddocks allow them more room to lay and plenty of room to feed.