It's one of the most important elements of horse care - feed. By feed I mean grain, not hay or grass. Most horses require feed when in work, and some do when they are not in work. When you keep your horses at home you want to ensure you have a good secure, and clean and dry area to store your feed.
Horse feed is extremely vulnerable. At any given time there are always creatures trying to get a piece of the goods. Mice, rats, raccoons, bugs, flies, and of course, loose horses (always the first place they go). Not only do you want to protect your grain from intruders, you want to ensure it stays clean and the temperature is regulated accordingly.
There are many options available when it comes to feed storage, all which have their benefits. The most important thing with feed storage is having a SECURE area to store your feed in case your horses are Houdinis and decide to help themselves to a grain buffet. This means a LOCKING door, a closing gate, a chain rope, or something equally as restricting. No one wants to come to this;
|oh ya, someone left the chain undone...|
Once your feed room is established and there are measures to secure the area, you want to find a good storage container for your feed. The following are just some options and are my personal favourites;
An old freezer:
Pros: Freezers are great. They can hold multiple bags of grain or just dump all of one kind of grain into it. They regulate the temperature, keep the grain varmint free, are at a nice height for dispensing and easy to open to close. Easy to put the feed in, relatively easy to scoop out.
Cons: Extremely big and bulky. Take up a tonne of room. Limited space inside. Hard to move and expensive if you can't find a throwaway one donated. The lid is easily lifted by clever horses. You have to hang yourself into the bottom to get to the last few scoops of grain. Hard to clean
Pros: I have used these with success when I first started out. They hold a bag of grain perfectly. Keep grain clean and dry. Affordable and easy to find, move, clean, and arrange. Can take with you wherever!
Cons: Annoying to take the lid on and off. Low to the ground so hard on the back and legs unless you build a shelf or counter. Can only hold one bag at a time.
Pros: These are what I use and LOVE them. They were under $10 each. They hold exactly ONE bag at a time. They have a removable lid to put grain in and a flap to open when you want to scoop the feed out. They are lightweight and easy to move, fit into spaces nicely and can even be stacked. Feed stays clean and dry.
Cons: Low to the ground, ideally need to be on a shelf or raised off the ground. Only hold a bag at a time. Smart horses can figure out how to "flip" the lid.
Pros: Garbage bins are another common and practical way to store feed. They keep your grain clean and animal free. Fairly affordable, do not use up a lot of space and easy to find. Can usually hold 2 bags of grain.
Cons: I have found mold grows easier in garbage bins. Long reaching to scoop when the grain reaches the bottom. The lids can be annoying to put on and off, and the lid is annoying when it's off and you have no where to put it.
Overall, my favourite feed storage system that I have had the most success with and found suits my needs the best is the IKEA Soretera bin. These bins make my life so easy in the feed room, I just love them. The most important thing to remember is the security of your feed room, and that your feed storage system meets your needs as a lowly back yard horse owner or the manager of large facility.
What do you or your barn use for their feed storage? I would love to hear what you like/dislike about it!