I hate hay waste. It’s like throwing dollar bills onto the pasture and watching your horse crush them into the ground. Of course, there’s a lot about owning a horse that reminds me of that!
But hay waste is even worse because it also creates work. It’s bad enough that the paddocks need to be cleaned every day. When you add in racking up wasted hay, there goes my riding time!
For the past several years I’ve used a metal hay feeder in the paddock. It worked reasonably well at keeping the hay out of the mud but it had some issues. The most problematic was that it was increasingly unstable and I worried that at some point a horse would knock it over and get hurt. So when it finally broke I decided to look into some other options.
This time I wanted more than just a container for the hay, I wanted something that would slow down consumption, at least a little bit, so that the hay we fed would last a bit longer. Horses digestive systems are designed for continuous eating in small quantities. While I believe in getting at least close to free choice hay as a way of keeping their digestive systems happy, I don’t believe they have to eat large amounts continuously.
There are several designs for slow feeders on the internet. The Slow Grazer is a nice design and if you are marginally handy, they will even sell you a DIY kit. This is actually a great idea because shipping a feeder like these could cost almost as much as the feeder itself.
Lots of companies sell small hole haynets but I wanted something that didn’t have to be hung on a fence or attached to a tree.
I finally found a great comparison chart of hay nets.
Using this I narrowed down my selection and based on size, availability and durability ratings, chose a Nibblenet. You can read my whole review on Tack Guru, but let me say briefly, that they are a real success.
Although I’ve read that some horses need to be transitioned to the small hole hay feeders, our horses figured it out in less than a minute. I did fluff the hay up the first time and pulled some out of the holes, but they were chowing down without any problems.
I’ve had them out now for about two weeks. They are easy to fill, hold a good amount of hay and are very well made.
I don’t miss the hay rack at all. In fact, I’m considering buying a smaller Nibblenet for my trailer.