Active stabling is a free range stabling concept developed for the main part by the company HIT in 2000/2001. The term refers to a free range stable where the horses live together in a herd and forage and concentrate feeding is implemented by computer-operated feeding stations.
There is another “active stabling” model, based on the same principle. It is operated by the second largest manufacturer of computer operated feeding stations – the Austrian company Schauer.
In an active stable, the horses wear a neck or fetlock collar with a transponder or a chip implanted under their skin, so that these can be recognized by the computer at the feeding station and each horse is fed the individually allotted amount. The feed is divided into up to 20 meals. After each meal, there is a one-hour lock-out, so that in this free range stabling facility the horse has to collect its feeds from the feeding station throughout the day.
In this free range stable, the functional areas (concentrates, hay, straw, water, rest area) are spaced as far apart as possible to encourage the horses to move around. They have to remain “active” in order to fulfill all their needs.
The heart of every active stable is the concentrate feeding station. There are, however, a number of different options available for forage feeding. Aside from the conventional racks, time-controlled shutter feeders can also be used. These open up at pre-set intervals to allow the horses to feed. This allows you to regulate predetermined amounts of feed distributed over the course of the day, while also allowing the horses to feed in a group. Each horse is fed the same amount of hay.
The photo shows a shutter hay feeder by the company HIT. The nets are spread out over the hay to allow the horses to feed at their allotted times. When feeding time is over, the nets are raised to prevent the horses from reaching the hay.
If you want to adjust the size of each horse’s the hay feed, you will need a hay dispenser which recognizes every horse and its pre-set feeding time according to its transponder.
These two methods are frequently used in combination. This means that the horses eat small hay feeds in the group and only the horses who need more are provided with extra feed by the hay dispensers.
On the following pages I will present an active stable at Gut Heinrichshof, where forage and concentrate feeds are dispensed with the aid of computers (diet group) and another free range stable, where the horses get only their concentrate feeds from a computerized feeding station (gelding group).