“This is like rocket science for horse owners!” says Dr. Susanne Lanini of the Forager. “A friend that rides by our pasture regularly tells me my horses are always eating.”
Horses in their natural habitat spend over half their day eating. Between 12 and 16 hours are lolled away with their head lowered, grazing forage that ranges from easy-to-get grasses to blades and stems that are hard to extract and often contain very little caloric energy. It’s a way of life that leads to virtually zero colic, ulcers, excess weight and metabolic imbalances or cribbing, weaving and other boredom behaviors.
Unfortunately, it’s a life very few horses have. Most live in settings where stable management realities dictate feeding schedules and methods. Delivered only two or three times a day, meals often consist of high-energy concentrate processed feeds with little to no forage available throughout the day. Most horses spend only 10 percent of their day eating, versus the eight to 10 hours considered a minimum for physical and mental well-being, according to equine nutritionist, Dr Andrea Ellis.
Slow Feeding Genius
Haygain’s Forager™ Slow Feeder brings nature’s genius to horse health management. Designed in conjunction with the Nottingham Trent University and the Royal Agricultural University in the U.K., its 10 unique features resulted from extensive research – Haygain’s hallmark – that make it an ideal stable management solution for many reasons.
Holding approximately 31 pounds of hay, the 28.3” tall Forager simulates how horses eat in nature. A regulator grid atop the hay ensures slow consumption and smaller bites. The extra chewing that requires maintains saliva flow that becomes a buffer between the stomach lining and the naturally-occurring acids waiting there to digest food.
Boredom busting is another benefit. Pulling pieces of forage through the regulator grid is a natural, healthy and more pleasant pastime than cribbing, stall weaving and other vices. Stretched-out meal times are especially helpful for horses on restricted diets.
Respiratory health benefits come from the hay being separated from stall bedding, a huge source of dust, mold spores, bacteria and other inhalable particles. Four openings in the cylinder allow ventilation and light that invites the horse to delve deeply into their feed. The Forager’s 2’4” height requires a lowered head position necessary for the exhalation and drainage of breathable particles present in all hay. Separating forage from the floor also reduces the risk of ingesting sand and dirt, while eliminating the waste of hay that gets mashed into bedding, manure and urine.
Every aspect of the Forager was designed with the horse’s health and comfort in mind, including the colors determined to be most appealing to the horse: light green for the regulator. Each unit includes two regulator grids. Their differently-sized openings suit various forage types and horse preferences. The “easy” grid is perfect for introducing the Forager, and the “standard” is a great long-term choice once horses get the hang of it. Sturdy yet flexible resin construction was carefully calibrated for safe and frustration-free intake regulation.
Convenience also came into play in the design process. The shiny metal ring on the outside of the Forager cylinder lowers as the horse eats down his hay supply, providing an easy-to-see consumption gauge. The regulator’s 4-clip carabiner system allows effortless filling of the Forager and grid, yet provides strength and stability so it’s tough enough to withstand even the most enthusiastic eaters! The unit’s base can be filled with sand for stand-alone stability in the stall or pasture, or can be tied to a wall using built-in fixing points. Regular cleaning is a breeze thanks to water drain points at the cylinder’s base and simple disassembly and re-assembly facilitates thorough cleaning and transport.
Like Rocket Science!
“This is like rocket science for horse owners!” says Dr. Susanne Lanini of the Forager. Since her now 18-year-old Arabian dressage partner developed Cushings Disease several years ago, the small animal veterinarian has had ample experience with slow feeding methods. Hay nets are a hassle and hard on the back and other slow feeders haven’t had the safety characteristics she prioritized for the two horses she keeps in an at-home pasture. Dr. Lanini first saw the Forager at a Southern California dressage clinic. “I usually never make purchases at events like that,” she shares. But a thorough look at the Forager changed all that. The regulator grid, vents for light and air and safety-driven design were among the qualities that sold her immediately.
Her horses took to it equally fast. “A friend that rides by our pasture regularly tells me my horses are always eating,” she relays. That’s healthy for any horse and especially for her Cushings horse, Just In Kayce. “It’s so important that he doesn’t gorge or eat all at once. The Forager really enables him to graze and he’s gotten much better.”
Reprinting encouraged. Haygain is committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and other health issues. With offices in the USA and England, Haygain distributes products for healthier horses to 19 countries, including its Haygain® Hay Steamers, ComfortStall® Orthopedic Sealed Flooring System, ForagerTM Slow Feeder and Flexineb® Portable Equine Nebulizer. Visit www.haygain.us for more information.
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Nan Meek Equestrian Marketing
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