Guest Author - Kim Wende
Slow hay feeders have become very popular the last few years. This type of feeder can really help horses that have to be stalled for several hours. Horses that become bored can develop issues such as stall vices (weaving, cribbing, pawing), ulcers and colic.
Pros of using a slow feeder:
Stops Hay Wastage
Horses don't defecate or trample on the hay
It slows down consumption
Hay will last 2 to 3 times longer
It replicates their natural grazing
It can keep hay in front of them 24/7
When using a net you can easily soak hay
Cons of using a slow feeder:
Horses can become frustrated at first
If using a hay net horses with shoes could get them caught
Some horses may get a tooth hung in the net
If using a haynet the horse may chew on it if the hay runs out
Tips for using a slow feeder:
When first starting your horse out on a slow feeder put half of their hay in the net and the other half on the ground until they get used to eating from the net.
If using a hay net make sure you secure the draw sting so they don't get a leg through it or their hoof caught in the loop.
When hanging a net use a clip to fasten the bottom of the net to the fence
Hang the net as low as possible to the ground so that it mimics their natural feeding position. If hung high their teeth will be out of position and not wear normally.
If you can't hand the net put it in a box or plastic barrel to keep your horse from pawing the net.
Put the slow feeders in different areas of the pasture to encourage the horse to move. Movement is very important for proper digestion.
Place the slow feeders away from the water as this too will encourage movement.
Slow feeders are a great consideration when it comes to horses as the benefits out weigh the risks. Slow feeders can be purchased as hay nets for small amounts, for single bales and even for round bales. You can also purchase slow feeders made from heavy duty plastic.
If you're handy at putting things together you can make one. There are several videos and websites that give your directions on making slow feeders for your horse.