Why it is important not to let your feeders become empty
A consistently full feeder leads to quiet and contented stock. This is because they quickly adapt to the constant supply of supplementary / complementary feed and it eliminates their need to fight for food.
If a feeder is regularly left empty, the behaviour of stock can change dramatically and can have serious consequences.
When a feeder is maintained at a full level, stock will often not move from their position in the paddock when it is being filled. However, if the feeder is left to run empty, consequently there is a lack of feed on offer and when filled, stock will rush to the feeder and push for access around the troughs. This pushing or bullying behaviour around the feeders sometimes means that stock, particularly young sheep, can get jumped on and squashed.
It is difficult to forecast the exact time when a feeder will become empty. Numerous factors such as decreasing pasture quality and inclement weather events can increase the frequency stock visit a feeders and reduce the period that the feeder contains feed. For this reason, farmers should forecast that the feeder should still have 5-7 days of feed in it at all times to decrease the risk of a feeder becoming empty.
If however a feeder does unintentionally become empty, it is best to first trail feed the stock so they are not desperate for feed before it is available in the feeder.