Hay might be "easier", but it's Way more expensive. As for the labor, it really isn't at much as you think.
Depends on where you're getting your hay from. It still costs almost nothing to grow & harvest, but when you can put corn or soy on the same land and get a much higher return, those of us who raise horses have to fight with that more then the actual cost of the hay. Again, depends on where you live & where you're getting it from.
What I have heard from people considering the commercial systems from the horse side, is it's a neat trick but why would you put so much labour and money into it when you could just purchase better quality hay and not bother? But that's a for a big stable of horses, eating a whole lot of fodder, and needing an big system (similar to the 200lbs dunappy is talking about).
Do you have pictures/description of the system you're using for small scale? I was looking at someone's the other day they were using a bucket with holes in the bottom, nesting it in another bucket then just pick up to rinse & serve.
It's definitely something I've been interested in for the chickens.