6 Things I Have Learned Since Feeding 12 Times a Day
By Donald L. Gribble, PE
The following is a description of my horse care routine and my facilities.
Below is a picture of the six stall barn
with hay loft and small tack room.
Each horse has a turn-out that is usable most of the time.
There is not enough area in their individual pens for grass to grow. The
horses spend most of their time outside, watching
each other and their surroundings, trying to satisfy their natural desires
to socialize, watch for danger, and most of all, graze.
When it is wet outside, I shut the horses in their stalls to keep them
from making their turn-out pens into a ‘mud-pens’. They dislike
being confined to their stalls so I limit this time.
The horses rely on me for survival. They receive grain, local hay and
water from me. If I do not keep a strict schedule the horses may suffer.
Variations or gaps in their feeding schedule can be very detrimential
for horses because of their sensitive digestive system and natural need
to graze continually.
For the past 10 years I have fed, like most of the horse owners in
my community, two times a day. With a busy schedule and a ‘full
time job’ I found it difficult to meet my horses' needs - 7 days
a week, 365 days a year - without being late on some feedings.
For this reason I developed the Pro Feeder. At first I thought that
this would be a good way to dispense feed three or four times a day.
But after conferring with equine specialists and veterinarians across
States it became apparent that more frequent, smaller feedings per day
would be better.
Agpro® ProFeeder has the capability of feeding up to 12 times a day,
so I have been using the maximum number of feedings for the past two
Things I Have Learned...
My horses are much more content and less aggressive being fed 12
small meals per day. As
you can see in the picture below each meal is little more than a
hand full of grain.
Since they are fed a small meal
every two hours, day and night, they do not think they have a morning
and evening feed time and are less aggressive during feedings.
When I ride in the evening they are not agitated and
their feed time.
My schedule remains much the same as before. I continue to feed
hay morning and night as well as check, clean and refill water.
I consider spending time with your animals twice a day a minimum.
The more time spent with your horses the better. The Pro Feeder simply
allows you to spend less time with your head in a feed bag and more
time caring for your horses.
I have not been late for a single
meal and have not over or under fed a horse in two years! This reliability
has been maintained with a 12 times a day feeding schedule! I could
not say I had been this reliable when hand feeding twice a day
previous 10 years.
Using the Pro Feeder, my schedule is more flexible. The fact that
the Pro Feeder is dispensing feed at predetermined times is a great
relief to me. Even if I am running late, I know my horses are being
fed on time. This eliminates worry for both the horses and
My feeding strategy has changed and is more healthy for the horse.
Since I feed many small meals, I have changed to a less potent feed;
more roughage and less calories per meal is better for the horse.
Horses are nocturnal and benefit from being fed day and night.
Most horse owners can not feed at night. This is fine for humans,
but horses naturally graze both day and night. They seldom go for
than an hour without grazing in their natural environment.
When studying the subject of horse feeding you will find a wide variety
of opinions. Some advocate hay only, some suggest a certain pellet or
grain, and for performance horses, a variety of feeds and supplements
are available. This can be very confusing! However, a few themes are
- Feed the same
time, on a daily schedule making changes gradually.
- Feed numerous
Most world class stables will feed three, or maybe four, times a day
using hired help. Everyone agrees this is better than the two-times-a-day
feedings that nearly all horses receive.
But now the rules have changed! With the Pro Feeder I can feed my pet
horses better than million dollar performance horses are currently fed!
By better I mean more frequently, exactly on time and in a more natural
feeding pattern; small meals both day and night.
The Agpro Pro Feeder does not replace human care and contact with your
horse, but it does allow you to feed your horse better than you can by
hand. Feeding 12 times a day definitely has been benificial to my horses!