Whooo, look at me go! A post every day this week. And some of them even had content ;) hahaha.
Completely unrelated pic but this is in my future because it's been the Friday from hell already.
Today I want to talk about hay feeders -- specifically, hay feeders in stalls. Although I try to keep my horses out as much as possible, it is inevitable that they spend some time in stalls. I don't have the quality or size of pasture necessary to leave them out 24/7, nor would that be healthy for Ruby and Cinna, who are quite easy keepers (unless they lived in grazing muzzles). Feeding hay has always been a PITA. Too much, and they waste it and use it as bedding (Cinna in particular loves to bed down in hay). Too little, and they finish quickly and then stand around with nothing to eat for hours (because I love them, but I'm not doing a daily 1 am feeding in the dead of winter) -- that's something I prefer not to happen, especially after dealing with ulcers with Topaz.
My stalls back when we installed them.
I've tried hay racks (my stalls came equipped with combination hay rack/swing out feeders). I've experimented with a variety of slow feed nets. I've tried tossing it directly on the floor. I've seen (but not tried) hay pillows and porta grazers, or wooden mangers. Some work better than others, some are complicated and annoying to use (not something I want if a horse is boarded, or if I have someone taking care of my animals while I'm away from the farm). Some are $$$$.
A stock photo of a hay bag Topaz murdered
A few years back I was rotating through options trying to find something that Topaz wouldn't destroy that was also easy for the boarding barn staff to fill, and I came across the Health E-Z Hay Feeder at my local farm supply store. The $40 price tag gave me pause, but I had a gift card from a family member, so the end cost would be about the same as trying another net (the previous one had lasted less than a week -- she was an aggressive eater). The design also gave me some pause, but after checking out their website, I decided to give it a go. (Not super relevant to the story, but they're manufactured in St. Louis, which is where I grew up, so it made me feel good to support a "local" product!).
A photo of the hay feeder, hung and ready for dinner! I don't have any photos of it alone when we hung it where Topaz was boarded, but this was earlier this week hung in my barn.
DH and I took it out to the boarding barn, where he installed it in her stall -- we hung it about wither height in the center of her stall. Our logic was that it would be hard for her to get her feet that high (although the holes are smaller than a size 00 shoe, which Topaz was NOT), and that if it was in the center of the stall, she couldn't brace it against the wall and inhale the hay.
When I initially posted the photo on my FB page, hoards of people crawled out of the woodwork to tell me how dangerous the feeder was -- because you know, people just can't help themselves. However, I am nothing if not stubborn so I stuck with it, and I'm so glad I did. It kept Topaz occupied for hours, slowing down her hay consumption to a more sustainable level, and allowing me to keep food in front of her at all times. She also got a lot of amusement out of swinging it around her stall, but she was funny like that, haha.
Tell me why she looks like a kid with a bad bowl haircut in this photo haha.
Out of chronological order (she still has her long mane lol) but you can see the feeder in the background.
Eventually I moved her back home, and the hay feeder ended up in my horse trailer tack room gathering dust (I was less inclined to use it at home because she was stalled way less than at the boarding barn). At an auction the next winter, someone consigned a brand new one of these feeders which I eagerly snapped up at wayyyyyy under retail.
The second one is green, clearly.
The feeders were on my mind again after I moved Ruby home Sunday, because she has a tendency to inhale her hay in like 2 hours and then stand around bored. I don't want another bout of ulcers on my hands, and since I already had two of the feeders, I decided to break them out for Cinna and Ruby. They're both easy keepers and could use the challenge to keep them eating a little slower. So I hung them from the rafters and filled them up! It took a day or two, but now both girls have the hang of it.
The feeders this morning with a little bit of leftover hay.
Considering that the blue feeder still looks almost like new after Topaz abused it for months, I'm not super concerned about the longevity. Although I'd love to acquire more of these at bargain basement auction prices, I'd also happily pay retail now that I've used them.
"Maaaahm why is my hay in a puzzle box?!" -- Cinna, probably
How do you handle feeding hay in stalls? I'm always on the lookout for new ideas and ways to make horsekeeping at my house easier! :)
What a neat idea! I think my horses would be scared of them, though :)ReplyDelete
I have hay hoops in my stalls and they come with a slow feed net. I still sometimes break down and give them a flake outside of the net, but without fail they either stall walk it into their bedding or poop on it. The nets are rarely empty, and every month or so I'll make sure I get the last little bit out of the bottom so it's not just sitting there... being hay, or whatever. There was a bit of a learning curve with them, but for my two they have been working really well.
Oh I love the looks of those! I've eyeballed them a few times and put them in online shopping carts, but never pulled the trigger. Those would be another one I'd like to try 😀Delete
Those look neat! Penn would probably like it (but I know it would terrorize other horses lol). He's basically not allowed to have hay not contained- he walks it into his bedding and then pisses all over it. A slow feeder net seems to work for him though.ReplyDelete
Are hay hoops the ones with a metal ring top and slow feeder attached? I was at a barn that used those. They were pretty good.
Haha Topaz used to swing hers *at* people when she was in a mood. Hopefully Ruby and Cinna don't pick up that trick!Delete
I've used regular old slow feeders with varying degrees of success but I always get annoyed filling them and figuring out a good way to secure them. And inevitably they die a painful death as my horses destroy them (which probably wouldn't happen if I bought more expensive ones, but money is a thing apparently).
Awesome that they work so well for Penn though! And yeah, I think the hay hoops referenced above are the ones you're thinking of ☺️
Oooh, these are neat! I removed the hay racks from my stalls because I didn't like how high up they were situated, so I never used them. My horses spend the night in a ~.75 acre dry lot and can go in and out of their stalls freely, but I'm always concerned about how much time they're spending NOT eating hay. I might have to pick up a few of these!ReplyDelete
I don't love the height of my hay racks, but since they're integrated into the feeders, I can't take them out. So these feeders are a nice compromise haha.Delete
If you try them out, let me know what you think! Once the girls have put them to the test for a longer period of time I'll probably do a more in depth review ☺️
I was at a boarding barn briefly in 2016 that used slow feeder hay nets. It drastically reduced the wasted hay and my two seemed to like eating out of them. For a while we didn't have very good hay either, so switching to better hay made it so the horse and pony were wasting less. Since I generally only go see my horse in the evenings, the slow feeder nets work really well for me. I fill one large net and one smaller net each evening and they are hung with carabiners on screw eyes in their pen. I don't have a barn, so the nets are hung on a post and on a tree. They will get hung on their run in shed if it's heavily precipitating. They don't have hay for a full 24 hours, but they do have hay for at least 12 this way. I have a variety of hay nets, but the shires nets and the niblet soft mesh nets. I also have a couple of other nets (blanking on the manufacturer right now), but they are very large nylon nets that will hold an entire square bale. They are in a bit rougher condition at about 2 years old, so I just use them as back ups, or if I need to fill as many days worth of nets as possible.ReplyDelete
I have a shires net a company sent to me by mistake and let me keep it seems pretty solid! I'm actually using it in the goats pen right now and they haven't been able to eat through it yet, which is promising, haha. Sounds like you have a good system worked out!Delete
I've been using hanging slow feeders for a few years now. I love them - they definitely keep hay available 24/7 and optimize hay consumption.ReplyDelete
The only downside I've found, is your horse can develop an ugly under the neck muscle from yanking the hay out, especially if the bag is not stabilized and/or they have to reach up to eat from it. My guy really goes to town lol. I hooked the bag to the corner of the stall (with removable web straps) and hung it as low as is safe to encourage head down eating. Also installed a tub (anchored to the wall) underneath to catch the loose hay.
I really like the idea of the rubber nets under the feeders to catch loose stuff! Good call 🙂Delete
We use the hay hoops in the stalls at my barn, and then two of the horses have feeder tubs and two have converted laundry basket things hung from the fence posts (sounds more ghetto than it looks). The hay hoops definitely help to slow them down, and the other methods help keep the hay out of the mud. In the Pacific northwest, it is boot-pulling mud season for 7-8 months of the year....ReplyDelete
I think I'd be interested in seeing pics of how you're using laundry baskets! ☺️Delete
I'll try to remember to snap a pic tomorrow. 😃Delete
I got the pics, really interesting! It's so fun to see how creative horsepeople get trying to get the most bang for our hay buck ;)Delete
Also, good call on The Kraken!ReplyDelete
Yummmmmmm Kraken 😍Delete
Those look interesting. I’m always looking for ways to torture- I mean slow Carmen down.ReplyDelete
Haha I am liking them so far! I'll do a more in-depth review in a few months I think 🙂Delete
These are super cool! We just feed hay in normal racks/feeders. Also OMG KRAKEN RUM IS MY FAVE NO WONDER WE GET ALONG SO WELL. ;)ReplyDelete
Yasssss release the Kraken 😁😁😁Delete
This is amazing. I've never heard of these but love the design! Thanks so much for sharing this. I've saved the post in my reader so I can refer back when I one day get a place of my own.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed it! ☺️Delete
I generally throw my hay on the ground, so nothing exciting to share here! But these are really neat, I haven't seen them before.ReplyDelete
Jampy gets weird sinus stuff if he doesn't keep his head down, so I don't want him eating up high. But I used to have a horse that needed hay 24/7, these would have been perfect for him!
Yeah ideally I'd prefer to feed hay in a more "natural" (aka on the ground) method, but I also hate hay waste and haven't managed to find a good solution for minimal hay waste when I feed on the ground, haha. So, we make compromises! ☺️Delete