Today I’ll be talking about a really great use of alternative energy. I absolutely love it when people figure out innovative ways to utilize green power and today’s article is a great example of that.
For those horse lovers of you out there you probably realize that Mother Nature designed our equine friends to be “grazing animals”. They weren’t meant to eat one big meal a day and they will stay healthier if they are fed two or three smaller meals throughout the day. This is much better for their overall health and digestive system.
Today while I was out feeding our horses I got this brilliant idea to invent a solar powered automatic horse feeder but like everything else in my life, I seem to be a day late and a dollar short because someone has beaten me to the punch! There’s an outfit called Green Diamond Fabricating out of Florence Montana that is marketing these kinds of solar powered feeders already.
I absolutely love what these innovators have come up with. Their product is designed so that you can load a bunch of hay into a traditional elevated hay feeder. There’s nothing really special about that but what is special is that they have incorporated automatic doors that raise and lower to allow the horses to eat several times a day instead of scarfing all the hay up at once.
Another very practical use for these automatic livestock feeders is when people have to board their horses somewhere other than their home. We used to have to board ours about 15 miles from our house and it was a real inconvenience to drive out there to feed twice a day. I looked for a product similar to these then but at the time I wasn’t able to find anything.
These solar powered automatic hay feeders are completely wireless which means there’s nothing for your horse to get tangled up in or chew on. They come in two versions. One for feeding two horses and one for feeding four horses. The manufacturer’s website says that the two horse model will hold 3 bales of hay and the four horse model will hold 8 bales. They don’t, however, say how big of bales they will hold. There’s quite a bit of difference in the size of a two string bale and a three string bale. The old two string bales that we used to buy were about 70 pounds and the three string bales that we buy now are about 120 pounds.
Here are a couple of short videos that show you the Green Diamond automatic hay feeder in action.
One of the things that I like the most about these automatic hay feeders for horses is that they can be programed to open and close as many as 20 times a day which really is the next best thing to your horses being able to graze all day in a pasture. You can set the exact time that the door should open to allow access to the hay and you can also program exactly how much time will elapse before the doors close.
You have to manually load these automatic hay feeders with hay and refill them when they are getting low but other than that, the process is completely automated. They are powered by a 12V car battery that is kept charged with a little 15 watt solar panel.
Update: December 21st, 2011
I recently asked the company that makes this product some questions and they were nice enough to respond with some insights into why they designed these automatic horse feeders. Here’s what Ken had to say about his products:
“I originally got the idea for them one January morning when it was below zero I hated to go out and feed the horse before breakfast one morning. These feeders help that problem. I never realized how much it helps the horses also.
Since then we have sold them from coast to coast. Some people buy them for the horses and others want a weekend off and want to know there horse are eating right.
First ones were AC Powered. We were concerned about the danger of electrical problems in a wet barn yard around horses. We changed to solar power. It’s low voltage and a lot safer in our application. It also cost less to build them with solar power.”
The four horse feeders sell for $4900.00. This one weighs about 2000 lbs. The two horse sells for $4400.00 and weighs around 900 lbs. Both are heavy
steel construction. The fence/barn feeder sells for $3900.00 and weighs 740 lbs. The four horse is our most popular one. Probably because it holds about seven 80# bales You could go away for a longer weekend. The two horse holds 3 bales.
~ Ken Gebert
If you would like more information about how you might be able to purchase these solar powered hay feeders, you can contact Ken by vising his website which is hayhorsefeeders.com or by calling him directly at 406-273-2151.