Saving up to 30 percent on your hay bill is an appealing reason to opt in to purchase a hay feeder. The University of Minnesota studies showcased that not only users of large square and round bale feeders could benefit from a smaller hay bill, but also horse owners that utilize small squares could get in on the significant savings.
Hay feeders can be labor saving boon, but with so many options on the market, what should the diligent horse owner look for when selecting a feeder and what safety measures should they employ to mitigate the risks of injury, choke or colic to their horses. Here are a few suggestions to help the neophyte equine hay feeder user navigate the world of feeders.
Cows and Horses
Cow feeders may be more readily available and cheaper than horse feeders, but does this make them a good option for use around equines? The answer is a resounding “No!”
Cows necessarily are not as athletic as horses and certainly their legs are shorter and their activities generally more lethargic than our beloved equines. While photos posted on social media of horses standing in the center of an empty round bale feeder may seem funny, the reality is that the gaps in the feeder are large enough for equine hooves to become trapped and can result in catastrophic injury or even death.
Horses can also roll in close proximity to feeders, and their legs can quickly become lodged in the feeding gaps on the outside of the low metal or plastic cow feeder. Horses that are trapped for extended periods of time may die as a result.
Cows don’t mind wet hay. Horses on the other hand need hay to be kept reasonably dry and free of mold to prevent colic. A horse feeder will therefore offer some type of roof to keep the hay as dry as possible while a cow hay feeder will be open to the elements. Look for a horse feeder with a secure locking device or gate that will keep the bale of hay where it is put, and not come open with horse ‘houdini’ antics.
Always remove halters from horses being fed from a feeder to prevent them becoming hung up on a corner of the feeder or hooked on any part of the feeder gate. Keep the feeder reasonably full of hay so that horses are not tempted to overreach for their hay supply. Feeders should have no sharp edges.
Size of Bales Matters
Choose a feeder that is specifically designed not just for horses, but also for the size of the bales you intend to feed. A feeder that is too small for the size of the bale may become top heavy and pose a risk of the unit falling over, while one that is too large can create much frustration for the horse who cannot easily reach the hay inside.
There are a variety of sizes of equine hay feeders available so pick a size that makes sense for the size of the herd. Otherwise arguments may ensue between herd members that may result at best in a horse lower in the pecking order not having full access to the hay, or at worst result in injury during a conflict between horses hungry for their feed.
Keep It Clean
Equine hay feeders are not maintenance free. Periodic cleaning of the hay that has collected on the table beneath the bale is necessary to prevent hay becoming stale, wet or moldy at the bottom of the feeder. A brush off with a broom may suffice or a more hands on scrub down may be needed.
It is also wise to place the feeder on a gravel or stonedust pad, to prevent excessive mud build up around the feeder. As many feeders can easily be moved, the alternative of moving the unit to drier areas when needed is often a viable option. For safety it is best to remove horses from the pasture when handling/moving the larger feeders from place to place.
Entwined in Twine
All hay necessarily comes with some sort of twine. Regardless of whether it is sisal, poly or wire twine, it should always be removed from the bale after placement in the feeder. Twine can be ingested by a horse and accidents can occur where twine is not cut and large lengths of twine end up on the floor, where a horse’s legs can become entwined and suffer rope burns, tendon or other injuries as a result.
The Foal Factor
Remember that foals are notoriously adventurous and spend much time in exuberant play on their hind legs. Be extremely careful if you choose to utilize a hay feeder around foals. For obvious reasons it is not recommended.
PLEASE NOTE: This article is available for use in its entirety without edit, in any media format, on condition that credit, in any media format, on condition that credit is given to Horizon Structures Inc., and author Nikki Alvin-Smith as a byline at the beginning of the article publication and Horizon Structures URL address and Nikki Alvin-Smith URL is included. Horizon would appreciate notification of any publication. Kindly contact Horizon Structures for photos to accompany the article.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com to learn more.
About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need -
Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA
Tel: 888 447 4337
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International published writer and creative content producer. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing specialist. Nikki also produces catalog and website copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures and advertising copy for a wide range of businesses.
As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 35 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international level and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Iberian breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run Willowview Hill Farm, a private dressage training operation in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.