Horses are grazing animals, spending upwards of 14 hours a day foraging for food. During this time, you can expect to see anywhere from 10 to 20 (if not more) distinct periods of feeding — most of which will be made up high-fiber forage. The reason for this behavior is actually physiological.
Like any mammal, a horse’s stomach contains acid. But the production of this acid is continuous, so the horse must eat. Actually, the horse must chew, and it’s the act of chewing that creates saliva to help neutralize stomach acids.
When we feed horses two to three times a day, they finish their food in minutes, not giving enough time to create saliva to counteract the high acidity in their digestive tracts. This can cause colic and stomach ulcers. The pain then leads to stress-related behaviors, or stereotypies, like windsucking, which helps horses produce saliva on their own. It also can cause anxiety around mealtime, as horses must now anticipate when they’re able to do what’s innate to them, such as walking, eating, and chewing.
HayLow HayNets Round Bale Hay Nets and Slow-Feed Hay Bags slow down feed intake. The net openings range from 1-¾” and 1” in size, requiring horses to take smaller bites. This reduces the intake of food to 1.9 lbs. to 2.4 lbs. per hour. With twice daily feeding, horses are now spending 10 to 13 hours “foraging” — approximately the same amount of time they would be grazing if in a pasture or field — all the while getting the correct caloric intake of food.
The round bale hay nets (when used with a round bale feeder) and slow-feed hay bags also keep hay contained, instead of being trampled when left out on its own. It saves money, frees up time, and keeps horses healthy, and that’s just by netting or bagging hay.
Whenever introducing new feeding routines, we always recommend using some caution, such as:
- Loosen the hay prior to feeding. This makes it much easier for the horses to pull the food from the net as they acclimate to the HayLow HayNets Round Bale Hay Net System.
- Start off with the largest size net openings available, which is the 1-¾” for both the round bale hay net and slow-feed hay bag. This also helps animals acclimate to eating from the net.
- Position the net or bag properly. Secure the round bale hay net in a round bale feeder or tub and hang the clip-on hay bag from a higher height. Horses with shoes or blankets, and animals with ear tags, can catch themselves on the netting when not contained or kept too low. It’s also best to use breakaway halters and pay special attention to horned animals.
- Invest in good hay. Horses require high-fiber forage, and that often means high-quality hay, especially when it comes to older horses and harder keepers. Easy keepers, on the other hand, do well on first crops.
Besides preventing colic and ulcers, and reducing herd anxiety, using HayLow HayNets Round Bale Hay Nets and Slow-Feed Hay Bags can provide the following benefits:
- Reduces equine allergies
- Evens horses’ blood sugar levels by slowing down their consumption and digestion
- Helps with cribbing horses
- Minimizes bullying and fighting within the herd
- Cuts down on mess, which means little-to-no clean up
- Decreases labor, as fewer bales are needed to feed your animals
- Provides more flexibility, as you no longer need to rush home to feed
- Offers convenience during winter month feeding, as the round bale hay nets won’t freeze to the ground
- Saves money (if you hadn’t already guessed)
Assembly of the HayLow HayNets Round Bale Hay Net System is quite easy. When you receive your round bale hay net, you’ll find two (2) figure 8’s intertwined together to form a smaller circle, two (2) #8-32 pan-head stainless steel Phillips screws, four (4) #8 flat stainless steel washers, and two (2) #8-32 stainless steel hex lock nuts for the end of each screw. Note: Cold pipe is harder to assemble. Please be sure to warm your net up to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit for easier assembly.
- Remove any shipping packaging.
- Separate the 2 figure 8’s (you’ll likely need help).
- Untwist the HayLow HayNets bale rings one ring at a time.
- Locate the coupler on both the upper and lower rings. Push the pipe back into the coupler if needed (during shipping it can sometimes detach).
- Find the pre-drilled holes in each coupler and insert your screw with a washer on each side of the pipe. Hold it together by screwing the locknut onto the end of the screw. Do this for both the upper ring and the lower ring. You may need to twist the pipe and coupler so that the pre-drilled holes align. For a video presentation, please see our YouTube Video.
- Complete setup with the instructions below.
- Remove baling twine from bale.
- Keep both rings collapsed together. Lean them on the bale and then push the whole system to the center of the bale.
- Watch it fall down around your bale.
- Put your round bale feeder over the net and bale.
- Be sure the bottom ring is flush with the ground and inside your round bale feeder. For a video presentation, please see our Video below.