I’ve always been a hay bag girl. They are easy to use to portion hay out and you lose less hay than if you put it on the ground. I also have some serious PTSD from middle school basketball in gym so trying to toss flakes into the upright mangers leads to nothing but hay on the ground and in my bra.
Since moving the horses to our property I have been concerned with the speed in which the hay disappears from their hay bags. They have blankets for the cold nights, but I was still concerned about them having empty tummies and not producing body heat through digestion. I had two options. The first was to put a round roll out. I shudder at the thought. Kricket is a little easy keeper and balloons up within a week of round roll access.
The second option was small hole hay nets. You will also see them advertised as slow eating nets or something similar. They work very simply. The holes are smaller than in a hay bag or traditional hay nets, therefore, they get smaller bites. It’s more of a nibble action than the cow-chewing-its-cud image of a horse with a massive mouth of hay. It mimics the grazing horses are supposed to do all day. (But let’s be honest, how many of us can have our horses on grass 24/7 without overgrazing the pasture?) Now if only I could get it to move so they also took slow continuous steps all day…
So I got two small hole nets from Jeffers ($15). I went with the large size and a nicer brand that had good reviews. So far I love them. I also invested in a spring scale from TSC ($20) so we weigh out their daily allotment every morning split between the two nets. I usually put one in their run out and one outside so they meander between the two. The best news? I put two out in the morning when I feed and they are good for a solid 24 hours. I know they have exactly enough hay and they can’t vacuum it up in 30 minutes.
I would like to add a disclaimer that my horses have no shoes. I know a lot of people have had horses hung up in hay nets. These particular nets are very durable and the tee-tiny holes could never pose a danger to a hoof getting stuck unless a larger hole forms. Again, I went for the nicer ones with good reviews. If you are ever in doubt of a horse product, find it on a site with reviews. Horse people LOVE to talk about their products–good or bad.