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Slow Feeders

Description
 
What are they? Well, it’s quite simple really: it’s either a net or a grid system placed over your horse’s hay. The net or grid has holes that are fairly small, usually just less than two inches square.
 
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Simulating a more natural method of “grazing” the hay slow feeder can result in the horse taking hours to consume a few flakes. Not only does this help you feed less but it helps to manage boredom and boredom associated vices, like cribbing and fence or tree chewing.

Slow feeders reduce feed related anxiety in horses that are on restricted diets. Because they can take hours to eat a few flakes they do not feel like they are being starved to death.

The use of a slow feeder in your sacrifice paddock or stall reduces waste as the horse cannot paw through the hay (then drag it around to ultimately poop on it) and will eat all of it, even the little chaff at the bottom.

 
If that’s not enough to convince you. Here’s more, there is also evidence that a slow feeder can decrease the occurrence of ulcers. Horses salivate only when they are chewing and eating, and under natural circumstances they produce up to 30 litres of saliva per day! Saliva is an acid buffer and neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Since a horse constantly produces stomach acid (even if the horse is not eating) the more often this acid is buffered the better. Slow feeders allow this buffering saliva to be produced for longer periods, thus potentially helping ulcers.
If you like using or are looking to try the slow feeder hay net idea then look no further. Airdrie Canvas sells the Vancouver-made virtually indestructible Redden Net slow feeder nets in both 1″ and 1.5″ hole sizes. These are generously-sized nets and are really built to last. Instead of buying many replacements you will only have to buy one as these are Heavy Duty equivalent of the slow feeder hay net world!
Testimonial
I have had about a year to assess the round bale hay net from Redden Net.  I feed a small group of cows and horses haylage bales and find the hay net very effective.  It saves a lot of hay which at last year’s hay prices is huge.  The hay net probably pays for itself after feeding ten bales.  The other advantage is that it spreads the consumption out over several days making things easier from a management point of view.  The way I feed is by putting the bale in a large stock watering tub and then cinch the rope on the net down around the base.  This effectively keeps the hay from getting tromped into the ground.  As the hay gets eaten the net falls down into the tub.  A smaller net may work better feeding this way, or I could move the rope to limit the size of the net.  Another adjustment I made for the cows is to cut a few larger holes in the net but I’m not sure that is necessary as they don’t seem to look for the holes when eating.  I’ve probably saved $2000 since I started using the net last year, not to mention the mess of wasted hay to deal with.  I am very pleased and recommend it for cattle and horses.

Hermen Geertsema, DVM  BScAgr - 18th Jan 2016

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