Inventive entrepreneur developing livestock feeder

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A Palisade woman hopes to bring to market a product she long needed when she was raising and showing horses: a device that makes it easier to feed livestock.

Mary Leonard has dubbed her invention the Cranky Feeder. A metal bin holds up to 100 pounds of so-called sweet feeds. Turning a handle not only stirs the feeds, but also dispenses the feeds a gallon at a time.

“It’s a dynamite idea,” Leonard said.

The Cranky Feeder should prove useful in feeding not only horses, but also cattle, hogs and other animals that require a set amount of feed daily, she said.

And since the device doesn’t need electricity, it can be moved to wherever it’s needed — whether that’s a barn, tack shed or trailer, she added.

Leonard hopes to soon have a prototype of the Cranky Feeder — as well as a patent. She then hopes to start marketing the device.

The initial reaction she’s received from livestock owners with whom she’s talked about the concept has been encouraging, she said. “Their eyes just glow.”

Leonard said she came up with her idea for the Cranky Feeder in part from her 30 years of experience in raising, training and showing paint horses.

She said she also was inspired by a kitchen device called a Hoosier cabinet that offered what was once a popular way to store, sift and dispense flour.

One problem with sweet feeds —  typically a mixture of grains and molasses — is that the such feeds can freeze in the winter and clump in the summer, she said. That makes it necessary to break up the feed with a shovel, hammer or other tool.

The Cranky Feeder addresses that problem, Leonard said, along with the hassles of scooping out feed to obtain a set amount. “Why scoop when you can crank?” she asked rhetorically.

In addition, the Cranky Feeder eliminates the chore of scraping the last of the feed out of the bottom of a barrel, Leonard said. When the bin gets low on feed, it’s simple to just pour in another bag full.

Leonard said the only device somewhat similar to the Cranky Feeder she’s seen on the market is much smaller and designed to dispense dog food.

That makes her optimistic about the market potential for her product.

“It’s coming together not as quickly as I would like, but it’s very solid,” she said.