Automation for the barn that actually WORKS!
Although I may have an aversion to things I believe might get me or one of my horses killed, I am not actually against technology or automation at the barn. So when I was perusing the interwebz late one evening, and came across the EEZKEEPER, I was instantly intrigued.
The EEZKEEPER is essentially a giant hay vending machine that allows you to program when it dispenses hay to your beasts. Who WOULDN’T want one?
I knew pretty much instantly that I needed to try this thing so I reached out to the company and was generously allowed to give it a go. After the last few months of using it, I can confidently say that the EEZKEEPER is pretty awesome. Here’s why:
What It Does:
The EEZKEEPER is an automatic feeder that lets you program up to ten different feeding times. You can also program different feeding times for different days of the week too. So for instance, if you’re boring like me, you just set it to feed at four different times during the day all seven days a week. But for the more daring, you could set it to feed at 7:00 am and 5:00 pm on Monday through Friday and then at 8:00 am and 6:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Or even at 6:45 am and 6:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm for Tues and Wednesday, and finally 7:30 am and 5:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Certainly my example times are arbitrary, but you get the point: you have options!
How It Works:
The EEZKEEPER has shelves that are triggered to drop at the specified time by the programmable computer. When the shelf drops, the hay slides down and out through the opening at the bottom of the feeder. There isn’t anything to jam or get stuck. Gravity is what allows the hay to be dispensed.
Adding to the convenience, the units run off of 8 D-cell flashlight batteries, which last approximately two years. This means that the EEZKEEPER requires absolutely no wiring or electric and can be setup virtually anywhere!
For stability, the EEZKEEPER attaches securely to panel rails or any sort of corral fencing. Some people have even engineered their barn aisle to accommodate the feeder so the hay is dispensed into the stall. If the feeder is used outdoors, it is recommended that a rubber mat be placed under the feeder so that it overhangs where the hay falls and allows for the horse to eat off the mat rather than the dirt.
The EEZKEEPER is available in a four shelf, an eight shelf, and a nine shelf version. All can come with a back door or without (the unit I tested did not have a door and even in our crazy wind I had no difficulty with the hay staying put). The smaller four shelf size is perfect for feeding twice a day for two days or for feeding four times a day for one. The nine shelf model works well if you want to feed three times a day, allowing you to fill it and be ready for three full days. Similarly, the eight shelf model is great for feeding either twice a day for four days, or four times a day for two days. The main benefit for the eight shelf model is that the shelves are spaced slightly further apart which makes it easier to feed two “fluffy” grass flakes.
The EEZKEEPER saves you time, and a significant amount of it! I can take the Gator and fill multiple feeders once every couple of days rather than every feeding. Even cooler though, it also functions as one of the best slow feeders available, while also adding flexibility to my schedule.
I have pretty easy keepers who can’t be left to their own devices to self regulate their feed (shocking, I know). I also don’t like to leave them all day without anything in their stomachs (because you know they’ve hoovered up their morning flakes long before evening feeding). As a solution I’ve used small hole hay bags and the plastic type grazers; both of these do their jobs, but have their own drawbacks, such as being a pain to fill or to go collect once they’ve been rolled to the back forty. The EEZKEEPER eliminates both of those issues – it is easy to fill and the horse never gets to roll it across the field- while also giving me the freedom to easily space out feedings throughout the day, even at times I may not be able to be there (or want to, such as a late night feeding).
One issue I commonly deal with is trying to plan my day so that I’m home early enough that my spoiled, hothouse flowers aren’t left starving (and let’s be honest, by 3:45 pm they’re convinced they’ve been abandoned forever to die). The EEZKEEPER has been awesome in that it’s allowed me to better balance riding, teaching, working, errands, and my family. Even if I’m running late, I know they’ll have hay available on a consistent schedule.
The EEZKEEPER is also super useful if you travel and have difficulty getting someone who can come care for your horses on the normal schedule they’re accustomed to. While I would not ever advocate using something like this as a substitute for human interaction and care (!!), I could see having someone come out to check in and using the EEZKEEPER to ensure that my horses got exactly what I wanted, on the schedule they’re used to.
Really, I don’t see any. The feeder does make a sort of “clunk” noise when the shelf drops that can initially be disconcerting to some horses, but it has not proven to be an issue for the Beastlet (and he’s a prancy Dutch horse, so there’s that).
My horse has not tried to eat, dismantle, or move the EEZKEEPER, and even if he wanted to, there doesn’t appear to be anything he could actually grab ahold of to do so.
In fact, check out the below video taken from The Beastlet’s stall camera on his second day with his EEZKEEPER. Notice it’s two minutes until 7:00. After one day he already knows when it should dispense his glorious breakfast. He does his little antsy dance, throws in some pony neck rolls for good measure, and then tucks his butt and scoots when it finally dispenses his breakfast like he wanted. In spite of his shenanigans, he calmly goes and eats. After the third day he’s had no silliness around feeding times; he just saunters over and eats.
Ultimately, the convenience alone makes the EEZKEEPER well worth the investment. If I had two pasture puffs or a barn of ten or more, I honestly think an investment in the EEZKEEPER makes total sense; it saves you time and potentially money if you’re paying someone to feed. We spend an insane amount of time devoted to our horses, wouldn’t it be nice to free some of that up for the aspects of it that are the most enjoyable? (Or maybe even – gasp- to spend time with our non-horsey significant others?)
Go Riding! And let the EEZKEEPER handle feeding!
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 34-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 7-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.