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6 Things I Have Learned Since Feeding 12 Times a Day

By Donald L. Gribble, PE

Background

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.

Donald Gribble's stable utilizes the Pro FeederEach 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 the United States it became apparent that more frequent, smaller feedings per day would be better.

The 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 years.

6 Things I Have Learned...
  1. 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. Smaller, numerous feedings are better for the horse.

    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 thinking they are missing their feed time.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 during the previous 10 years.

  4. 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 myself!

  5. 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.

  6. 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 more than an hour without grazing in their natural environment.

Conclusion

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 common:

  1. Feed the same time, on a daily schedule making changes gradually.
  2. Feed numerous small meals. The automatic horse feeder at work.

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!