The Basics of Horse Feed Storage

Horse feed storage doesn't have to be a difficult process, yet many horse owners don't give it the proper consideration...

...all too often feed is stored in an open bag sitting in the corner of the barn somewhere.

Why should I worry about correct horse feed storage?

Correctly storing your horse's feed can help prevent the following:

  • Growth of mold on the feed
  • Breakdown of nutrients
  • Insect infestation
  • Attracting rats/mice and other pests to your barn
  • Transmission of diseases to your horse

One of the most obvious reasons to keep your horse's feed stored properly is to prevent it from going bad. Mold and other organisms that grow on it can potentially make your horse sick.

Preventing infestations is also important, as not many horses will touch feed that has bugs crawling all over it...quite frankly, I don't blame them, as I wouldn't want bugs in MY food!

Though mold and insect infestations are good reasons to review your horse feed storage methods, one of the best reasons is to prevent diseases accidentally being spread to your horse.

A number of diseases (such as EPM) can be spread through the urine and/or fecal matter of animals (such as oppossums in the case of EPM) that find your horse's feed just as tasty as he does.

Bug infestations and mold growth are usually easy to see, but fecal contamination may not be apparent, making its prevention even more important.

Of course, preventing nutrient breakdown is also a very good reason to properly store horse feed. Most nutrients begin to break down when exposed to oxygen and sunlight. Heat, as well as moisture, also causes accelerated break down of most nutrients.

The MOST IMPORTANT Factor

The most important factor of any storage method is that it is horse proof!!

Whether the container itself is horse proof, or it is locked in a feed room that the horses can't possibly get into, it is ESSENTIAL that there is absolutely no equine access to your feed stores.

ESPECIALLY if you store more than a few pounds at a time!

Considerations for choosing storage

There are a number of options out there, and a what you choose depends largely on a few things:

  • number of horses you feed
  • number of different feeds you feed
  • types of feeds (some require special storage considerations)
  • storage space available to you
  • amount of feed being stored at one time

Examples of proper storage

Any container that will keep out sunlight, rodents, insects, other pests, moisture, and mold can be used for horse feed storage. Some of the most popular options include the following:

Deep Freeze

Horse owners that buy pelleted or sweet feeds 5-10 bags at a time often find it very convenient to use an old deep freeze that no longer works as storage for the bags before they are opened.

This works very well as long as the lid is still in good condition to prevent pests or horses getting in and helping themselves. A lid with a working lock is a bonus!

Its also important to have a good seal still in place, especially in humid climates, to prevent moisture from getting into the feed.

Garbage Cans

Another option, for owners that buy only a few bags at a time, is a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid.

Entire feed bags can be stored in the can, or the feeds can be dumped from the bag into the container.

If the feeds are dumped, its very important to make sure ALL the feed is out of the container before new is put in, or the feed left at the bottom will eventually go bad.

Plastic Lidded Containers

Plastic lidded containers that are usually used for household storage are a great option for most horse owners. These are what I personally use.

They come in varying sizes and can be found at almost any store, making them a great choice for someone who feeds a number of different feeds like I do.

A bonus for me is that they are usually stackable, so they take up less space in the feed room -- and I get a bit of an extra workout every day!

I simply stack them with the heaviest and largest ones on the bottom and work up to the smaller and lighter ones.

Even if you don't stack them, they are usually pretty easy to store...I store my heaviest, most frequently used ones under the table I mix my feed buckets on.

If you use these containers, make sure that the feed room door is fitted with a horse-proof lock though, because most of these do not have lids that will prevent a determined horse from getting a late-night snack.

Special consideration

Special consideration should be given when storing feeds with a high fat content to prevent them from going rancid. If at all possible, it is best to store these feeds in a refrigerator where the temperature can be easily controlled. This is especially important in hotter climates.

Proper horse feed storage is one of the easiest things you can do to increase your horse's nutrition -- it keeps the bad things out and the good things in!

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