I’ve been testing some different hay feeding systems to see how I can slow down the fast eaters in our herd. We use our own version
of the Paddock Paradise system for encouraging the horses to move around by keeping the water as far away as possible from where they eat. But the big eaters still seem to get more food than those who take their time. And although we feed out of tubs, there are a couple of horses who toss the hay onto the sand/decomposed granite, forcing all the horses to pick at the hay while it lays in sand.
For the last month or so, I’ve been trying our The Natural Feeder manufactured by Mark Olson of Power to the Hoof and I’m generally pleased with the results.
Although the feeder is designed to contain the whole (double string) bale, I’ve been experimenting with putting only one or two flakes in there at a time. The original grates it came with were too wide for my horses, but I just received a shipment of the new slimmer grates and they do slow down the eating speed considerably.
The construction is solid and because of the shape and the way the feeder is built, even the busy horses don’t tip the thing over. You can see that some of the horses have been trying to get more out of the feeder when empty by scraping at the top and sides with their teeth. There is no sign of any structural weakness and I would expect this feeder to last for years.
I experimented by making my own version of the grate to slow down the eating speed even more. I took the original, wider grate and cut it in half. I then tied the half pieces width ways to the new grate. It almost worked too well, but I would use this system if I had very stalky hay. The new, slimmer grates work just fine without any additional modification needed.
I saw another feeding system in use last week while I was staying on the central California coast. In the winter months, lots of hay gets wasted if it is fed on mud or tossed out of the feeder onto wet ground and then trodden on.
This system, developed by Leslie Spitzer and Pamela Swartz, uses large square produce stacking boxes. They then take metal display racks and trim the corners off, using the same principle as the grates in the Natural Feeder. The produce box is heavy enough that it cannot be tipped over, and the spaces between the grates make the hay is easily accessible, just at a slower speed.
You can see more on The Natural Feeder on the product website: http://thenaturalfeeder.com. If you like what Leslie and Pamela did with the big square produce boxes, I’m afraid you’ll have to research suppliers of similar components in your area.
Do you use a feeding system for your horse? What do you like about it and what would you change? Click in the box under ‘Add New Comment’ below (or if you subscribe to this blog via RSS, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your comment).
Keep up the bootlegging!
Director of Marketing
I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your horse.