The farm of the future
Automated feeders extreme! Technology lets horses live like horses and still balance their feed individually. We visited a boarding farm that keeps two herds, one a dozen geldings and one a dozen mares, in two horse friendly large paddocks which are lined with mats to avoid winter mud, and are picked out twice a day. Every horse has an elastic band with a microchip that allows him access to the hay and grain feeders that are programmed for that individual horse.
There are several of these hay feeders around the turnout area. At regular intervals, the metal doors slide open and the horses mill around and find a place to eat. At this time, the feeders were opening every hour for twenty minutes or so. Such a good way to keep horses "grazing" in winter. And efficient on labor since you can fill grain and hay ahead of time.
The grain feeder stall is open all the time. After entering, the door closes behind the horse only if it is his time to eat, otherwise the horse just walks on through. If it is the right time, the door closes behind the door so no one else can come in, the grain dumps into the bin in the amount the chip indicates, and the horse exits through a one way push door when he is finished. You can easily feed 15 horses 24 time a day! So healthy for the horses! And you can program one horse for twice a day, and another for 24 times a day if you want. Our friend said the horses figure out pretty quickly when it is their time and don't stand around bothering the the stall all day.
The feeding stall from the back, open for the next horse to come. The grain is stored in hoppers to the right.
After the door closes when a horse goes in to eat.
This is an access gate. If horse's chip allows it access to the 24/7 hay feeder it will open the gate into that area. If not, the horse exits through the side gate and stays in the communal area. They use a similar gate for access to the pasture.
The sleeping area is sand. Large enough for the whole herd. Our friend said she often sees all of them sleeping together at the same time, with one or two standing guard.
I was really impressed with how all the details come together to a happy horse experience!