If you have ever visited a "mega-farm," you probably had more questions coming out of the barns than going into them. For example, when a farmer has five hundred or more head of cattle or five thousand chickens, how on earth does he or she feed all of those animals? More importantly, how does the farmer feed all of those animals quickly? Feeding them one by one would take almost all day, maybe longer, and then the farmer would have to repeat the process. Unless you are present at feeding time for the animals, you would not know how the mega-farm farmer accomplishes everything in a day. Here are just some of the answers to your all-important questions.
Large Animal Automatic Feeders
Outside of the huge barn, these farmers have this massive grain hopper. The hopper has a long channel that feeds into the barn. It is part of a system that when turned on or set to a timer, it automatically sends a ton of feed down through the chute and into the feeding troughs that line the rows in the barn.
A multi-animal feeding system operates this way, but farmers can buy and use individual large animal automatic feeders as well. The individual automatic feeders are intended for pregnant animals, such as cows, sows, and mares. Special feed with extra nutrients for the growing baby animals still inside the mothers is fed into the individual automatic feeders. All of these feeders can be set to a timer if the farmer wants the feeder to do all of the heavy lifting work of feeding the animals twice a day.
Automatic Small Animal Feeders
There is a similar feeder system for farmers that raise chickens, geese, turkeys, and ducks, either for egg production or for food. Small hoppers hang from the ceiling. They are filled with food from a large grain hopper outside. The farmhands throw a switch in the morning and at night, and the interior hoppers spin and spit corn and grain out for the poultry to eat. It is a much more effective means of making sure every chicken, duck, turkey, or goose gets some of the corn or grain that is thrown from the ceiling. Otherwise, hand-throwing it or pouring it in piles in the barn often results in pecking and mutilation behaviors by some animals as the poultry fight to get to the pile of grain first.