A friend emailed me about some slow-feeder hay nets several weeks ago. I ordered some for my guys and Sophie’s horse, Blue. The company (Jonathon Field) is in British Columbia and I received them in three days. The cost is $29.95 plus shipping and a tax. The five ended up costing just under $34 each.

I got them for several reasons:

1. Blue wastes a tremendous about of hay and in our neck of the woods hay is at a premium this year, sniff…
2. Kye has an insulin issue so eating continuously is good
3. Zeloso eats REALLY fast, then stands around thinking
4. Zelador needs to be eating for most of the night to prevent a tummy ache in the morning. Leaving enough hay in his stall for him to eat consistently from 10:15 P.M. to 7:30 A.M. creates a very rotund horse.
5. During the winter the waste of hay in the paddocks is huge and so is the spring clean-up

After the first few days of the horses enjoying their slow-feeders I noticed several things. The horses are feeling better. Why? I’m thinking it’s because they’re eating more naturally, over a longer period of time. Sue Parker was here to work with me and Zelador. He was the best he’s ever been. The only thing different in his life (that I’m aware of) is the slow-feeder. I’m crediting this hay net with his happy, calm lesson with Sue.

With the slow-feeder hay net (the openings are one inch square) there’s less waste. With some of the horses I’m feeding less and they’re eating longer. With other horses they’re receiving the same amount, but enjoying eating longer. And, after two weeks with these slow-feeder hay nets I think I’m detecting a slight reduction in the fat along Zelador’s and Zeloso’s ribs. This is happening slowly and slow is good!

These slow-feeder hay nets are very easy to fill. The opening is WIDE. The nets’ holes are one inch square, slowing the horses down.

Update number one: I ordered another 16 hay nets. They arrived in three days. A friend ordered ten. I ordered one for Pax and three for horses in the upper barn, leaving me with two extra hay nets for the lower barn. I use these in the paddocks and I bring them in with the horses and fill them for Bill to place in stalls in the morning. They are working out really well in the paddocks. We’ve had a great deal of rain and it’s a joy to see the hay go into the horses and not get trampled under hoof.

Update number two: I’m placing another order. I’m getting three more for myself so that all five horses in our lower barn will have hay nets ready for Bill to hang in the morning. One friend is getting ten, another lady an additional six (she got ten last order) plus a few here and there totally 25 new slow-feeder hay nets.

Update number three: Blue cribs. Lots of products have been purchased over the years to deter this activity. His owners have used sprays and thick creams on the surfaces Blue likes to sink his top teeth into. Nothing has worked. However, I placed the slow-feeder hay net at Blue’s favourite cribbing spot and he’s eating the hay, not cribbing! His owner said yesterday, “Blue is so happy. I think it’s because of the slow-feeder hay net. When the hay is on the floor he doesn’t eat very much of it. Perhaps he likes the hay up a bit higher so he can watch what’s going on in the barn and eat at the same time.”

Zelador continues to be “the best he’s ever been” under saddle. And, I’ve noticed something else. Since he first had a girth tightened (very slowly) he’s objected. No matter how carefully I work with the girth while saddling him, he’s unhappy. He’ll bite at his front leg in protest. BUT these last few days (could be a week) he is not the least bit concerned about the girth. Plus, this big barreled horse’s barrel is a bit smaller. The girth is being buckled a bit shorter these days. We’re exploring new holes on the girth strap.

We are using less hay. This is happening in the morning between 9:00 and 12:30 when I’m working with each of the boys. In the pre-slow-feeder days each Z would receive at least three flakes of hay in the stall during the morning. Now they munch on one flake in the hay net. This keeps them busy the entire time. The reduction in hay is about half a bale per day. This doesn’t sound like much but when I thought about the months from now till next June when the 2013 hay crop might be delivered (we’re talking seven months…plus…with thirty days per monthish) the total not eaten is 105 bales.