Feed Room Storage and Organization
The efficiency of feeding time is reliant on how well organized and accessible your grain and supplements are stored. From a small back-yard barn to the largest boarding facilities the ultimate goal should be the same: ease of use, maintaining feed quality, accuracy of feeding and minimizing unnecessary footsteps. I hope to offer some great ideas on how to handle feed room storage and feed room organization.
Having a safe and secure feed storage area will aid in ensuring the overall health and well-being of your horse. While we never wish for a horse to get loose, it is always a possibility and as such all grain should be kept in an area off-limits to horses. If your facility does not have a separate stall or room that can be secured from the threat of a loose horse you will need to source feed storage containers that horses are unable to break into. Do not be fooled by that reassuring click of a trash can, horses can get into them successfully and the results of a horse overeating can be devastating.
Grain stored in bags can be susceptible moisture and rodent damage and could easily be damaged by a loose horse. Grain maintains it freshness best in cool, dry conditions. An ideal feed storage container should offer a tight seal to keep the freshness of the feed in while keeping pests, contaminants and moisture out. The bin should have a capacity large enough to hold at least 1 week of feed or equal to the amount of grain you buy on a regular schedule. While remaining secure from a horse it should not be overly complicated for a human to open and close.
An excellent option for the individual horse owner or larger operations with horses on multiple types of grain is the Horseman’s Pride Feed Bin. This bin offers a modest 300lb capacity (6 – 50lb bags) and offers a rotating hasp that can be secured with a simple turn or made more secure by the addition of a snap or padlock.
#feedroomhack – Providing your own feed to a boarding facility? Add a large brass dog tag to a trigger snap or split ring for instant identification of feed bin contents, horse name and/or feeding instructions.
If you have a long center aisle or stalls in multiple buildings away from your main feed room the SportoteFeed cart offers a mobile solution that can be loaded on demand with the different feeds necessary to attend to your herd. The large compartment fits up to 100 lbs (2 – 50lb bags) each of the two smaller compartments hold 50 lbs each. A tray for supplements and large wheels allow easy maneuverability.
#feedroomhack – Upcycle an obsolete chest freezer into a high capacity grain bin by adding a fresh coat of spray paint in your favorite barn colors. The larger models can easily hold upwards of 700lbs of feed!
Make serving supplements simple by adding shelves near the grain bin to hold each of the horses supplements organized by horse or container style to speed up feeding. Be sure to make labels clear and simple. If multiple horses are on the same supplement consider simplifying the labels to reflect in a single word what they are for. Ie JOINT 1, JOINT 2, GUT, PAIN, HOOF this will shorten up the space needed on feeding charts and allow anyone to have a better shot of keeping the feeding routine the same should you need another person to step in at feeding time.
#feedroomhack – keep a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker on hand for ongoing adjustments to your feeding routine.
#feedroomhack – Have a love / hate relationship with your supplement containers? Save your favorite containers! Re-label and refill them with supplements that come in awkward screw-top or zippered bags.
A scoop is a scoop right?
Wrong. – A “scoop” of feed could be anything from a few ounces to a few pounds. A mistake many of us make is referring to feeding amounts in terms of scoops, but referring to feed simply by volume can be a costly mistake for both your horse and your wallet. Different feeds can have different weights despite having the same apparent volume.
So how do we evaluate our scoops? For each horse in your care document the horse’s current age, weight, forage and activity level and compare it directly to the label on your chosen bag of feed. Once you have determined how many pounds per day the horse should be getting, divide that total by how many feedings you serve (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner) then use a scale to actually weigh out the amount of food needed per meal. Once you have your meal weighed out, transfer that amount into a scoop and either mark the scoop to the appropriate level, notate the amount if the scoop is graduated or source a different sized scoop to accommodate the actual correct weight worth of feed.
I’ve weighed, I’ve measured, I’m confused – Now what?
If you are left staring at the scale or your scoop in disbelief as to how much you are supposed to be giving your horse; it may be time to talk to your vet, an equine nutrition specialist, or knowledgeable salesperson to see if a different feed may better fit your horses needs. Big Dee’s Tack offers a number of both popular and hard to find horse feeds tailored specifically to your horses age, health, breed and lifestyle. Visit our website or stop into our Streetsboro, Ohio store to look through our selection and chat with an employee about the various feeds that are currently available.
Manufacturers’ websites are another great resource and are a wealth of information. They can help to guide you through your initial evaluation in determining if it may be time for a change in horse feed. Many of them even offer in-site calculators where you can enter your horses age, current weight, level of exercise and even breed to offer product suggestions.
#feedroomhack – changing feeds? To help minimize the chances of digestive upset, maintain enough of your current feed to slowly transition your horse over to a new feed over the course of a week. A preliminary call to your vet to chat through a transition plan will help sure up any details or concerns that you may have, as well as give them the heads up in the event that you do experience problems.
Post a feeding chart
Even if you are the sole caretaker it is a good idea to post a chart detailing who gets what, when and how much. Step it up a notch and install stall name plates and halter tags to help lesser-experienced handlers keep the barn running in the event of an unexpected absence.
From Feed Room to Feed Tub
Ultimately once you know how much feed, when to feed and what supplements need to be added the next area of improvement is how to get the feed from bin to bucket in the quickest most efficient way possible. For fewer than 6 horses you may choose to prep meals at feeding time directly into the scoop, while adding any needed supplements on top. Walking the scoops to stalls 2 at a time to save footsteps.
For larger facilities it is very common to pre-prep meals into 8 quart buckets and then carry or wheel the buckets on a cart down through the barn, dumping the assigned bucket into the correct horses feed tubs. If you are prepping in the morning for an evening feeding (or vice verse) you may want to consider the Horse Spa Products Bucket Covers to keep flies and rodents from contaminating feed. The 8qt size fits standard round 8 quart buckets, the 20 quart will fit a standard water bucket. The 20 quart size will also fit over the Horseman’s Pride Mini Feed Tub (though the handle holes do not light up to the eyelets). You can have the bucket covers embroidered or heat sealed with your horses name at Big Dee’s Tack.
Must-have tools for the feed room
Sure Scoop (left) features weight markers for pelleted food on one side and sweet or textured feed on the other. The Miller Mfg Stackable Feed Scoop (right) features measurement lines on inside to help with consistency after you have weighed your feed. Save time and money by using a Gallon bottle pump (middle) to distribute 1 ounce of liquid supplement with each full pump. Use a Weight tape (bottom) to determine your horses current weight in conjunction with your feed manufacturers instructions to calculate the correct amount of feed by weight.
Summing it up
Creating a well organized and secure feeding area with clear and concise labeling and a feeding chart to follow; will ensure that each horse receives the correct amount at each feeding regardless of who is handling feed duties. I hope that some of these ideas can help you in evaluating your current feeding plan.