This has become one of my favorite purchases recently for the horses. As anyone living in the Pacific Northwest knows we have been attempting to drown in all the rain we are getting. With rain of course comes mud, and with mud the horses always seem to find a way to stomp their feed into the mud. Hay here is VERY expensive so it is extremely aggravating to go out and see that half of what you fed your horses is now soaked in mud and urine. Enter slow feed haynets.
If you’re like me you want your hay bill to be as small as possible! Well I had been debating feeding them haynets because when I grew up everyone always said you had to be so careful with haynets least a horse get caught and hurt in one. I can officially say a lot of the issues with a horse getting hurt in one is gone with a slow feed haynet!
Why are they safer then regular haynets? Well the holes are way smaller then a standard haynet. The holes in these haynets are 1.5 inches. A standard haynet is 6 inches! That is a huge difference in size. and even a small hoofed horse/pony shouldn’t get their hoof caught in it unless there is unprepared rips in the net(though I’m not sure about mini’s). Now I will say if you have a shod horse I would still be really careful with the haynets because a shoe can get caught in it if they strike, kick or paw at it but if you have barefoot horses I wouldn’t be as worried. The only other point of injury may be from if you hang it and some how they get caught under it but I see the haynets breaking before injury occurs 99% of the time.
So how do I use this? I’m a bit unconventional. I fill my haynets and then I just tie the ends in a slip not until the very end of the rope. Then I just tuck the end through the last loop so the horses can’t open it or get a hoof caught in it and I toss it over the fence. By feeding them this way it induces that normal grazing pattern and I don’t have to worry about them getting weird musculature from pulling down feed out of a strung net. They can also toss it around so it keeps them moving in a more normal grazing pattern.
So does this really help keep them from stomping the hay into the mud? YES! They are amazing. My waste has dropped by at least 80% with most of the day’s it’s around 95%. There will still be a little waste from them tossing it around but they eat so much slower they don’t become nearly as picky as free feed! Also I haven’t had a problem at all with them peeing on it either so another big win.
What about quality? These haynets seem to be very good quality. The boys are really tough on them and they are withstanding the beatings. I’ve only had one small pice come undone and I fixed it by retying it. They have been getting these twice a day for about 2 weeks now. So an update will be coming but for now they are holding up to some pretty good abuse.
It improves horses gut health! Horses intestines are designed to have a slow intake of feed all day. When horses get fed two large feedings (which is typical in most barns) they loose that constant trickle and there will be periods of nothing in their system. This can lead to ulcers and can eventually lead to bad stall habits like weaving and cribbing. It won’t always fix these issues but a slow feeder seriously extends their eating time and gives them something to focus on. This cuts down on boredom which is also a root cause of some stable vices. There still may be a few times with no feed in their system unless you feed large bags but its still much better for their system. Also horses (at least my boys) seem to be happier during the day and not nearly as needy around feed time, unless of course I’m taking them to the pasture. Then all bets are off! With a calmer horse, it makes riding so much better!
What size to buy? I bought the small ones. They are blue and black and they are very good sized for fitting quite a bit of hay! They will fit more then your average two flake feedings. I have not tried the large(red and black) but I’ve read they can hold over half a normal small bale. If you want a more all day feeding/ fill once and leave it for a day or two I’d go more with the large. I prefer the small because I can monitor their feed just a tad more but thats a personal preference. Eventually I might upgrade to the large if the rain keeps up and I can’t let them out in the pastures.
What does this cost? At this time on Amazon the small size is ranging about $13.50 with free shipping with amazon prime. The large is $22.oo plus shipping. I just bought a second set so I can set it my morning feeding during the evening chores and I don’t have to go hunt around in the dark to find the haynets. I highly recommend this unless you are lucky enough to feed in the light during the winter!
Any who I absolutely love these. I use the 1.5 inch ones right now for my boys and after a few days of feeding with the haynet and a flake of hay outside the haynet, they figured them out and don’t complain anymore. I’m not sure if I’d move them down to 1 inch. Cash would get too flustered but some horses still eat pretty fast through a 1.5 inch when they figure it out so they may need it.
When they are eating out of haynets be sure to periodically check their gums! Some horses can get sores from pushing on the haynets with their teeth. I haven’t had a problem at all with it so just keep an eye out!
Here’s the links to buy the Shires nets:
Until next time!
Here’s a pic of them eating their haynets in the driest corner of their stalls after their night romp through the neighborhood. The haynets are not hung or attached to anything and they do throw them around but usually not until they are almost all done eating the hay.