We all know that there are many health benefits to feeding hay/haylage from the ground rather than from a hay net: it prevents neck, wither and jaw injuries, keeps dust out of eyes, allows for a more relaxed mental state, allows the sinuses and nasal passages to naturally drain better – to name a few. As much as haynets are traditionally convinient for transporation, soaking, slowing down guzlers and keeping any waste to a minimum – they simply aren’t a natural way for the horse to eat. So in light of this, I have recently decided to make the switch from haynets to ground feeding. I’ve been researching various methods and contraptions that make this easier however – as no one likes picking hay of shavings everyday. Plus, I have a laminitic pony who practically inhales his food and must stick to a strict ration, so I’ve been especially looking at methods that prevent this. I thought it would be worthwhile to share my findings, and perhaps persuade you to take the leap of you haven’t already!
- Hay Bar
Pros: A Hay Bar is one of the most commonly used solutions to the cons of feeding hay naturally. It is a plastic ‘bar’ that is drilled into the corner of the stable, allowing the horse to eat with its neck down while enclosing the hay and stopping it from being strewn across the stable.
Cons: Often it’s been reported that the hay still does get thrown around if your horse is a paticularly viscious eater. Plus, some yards may not want something drilled onto your stable and equally you may not want to have something so fixed. Not to mention they can be fairly expensive. There are several different brands of effectively the same product and these range from wooden ones that are about £35, to the ‘actual’ HAYBAR branded ones that can be up to £80.
- Hay Cube
Pros: This is no doubt a clever invention. This would be a lifesaver for a hay soaker, as you don’t have to lift a heavy dripping wet haynet once throughout the whole process! You simply insert the hay into the cube, wheel it to a tap, drain it using the inbuilt plug, and then wheel it into the stable and attach to the wall via the fixed bracket provided and voila, job done!
Cons: The is most likely still going to be some wastage. It doesn’t really offer any solution for slowing down hay consumption. And…it’s £129.99 – but worth it for convinience?
- Hay Saver
Pros: Potentially an upgrade on the Hay Cube, and solving the issue of fast eating is the Hay Saver. This design is similar to the cube, except that it has a ‘grid’ type thing over the top with eating slots in, acting as a prevention from the greedy pony guzzling it all before you’ve even left the yard. It gradually goes down as the horse eats so the horse doesn’t eat the top layer and end up staring at the unattainable hay beneath. A great idea.
Cons: The plastic edges have been flagged as a potential hazard. It costs a grand total of £130 on average (Pretty much the same as the Hay Cube) – but it may well be something you could kock up your self with a bit of DIY creativity?
Pros: This again, solves many of the issues of the Hay Saver. It’s round, which personally I think makes it better for stable use and illiminates any risk of sharp edges. It is still drainable and provides slow eating provision. There are no fixings involved, yet it remains ‘tip’ proof so if it’s kocked it’s hazard free. It’s transportable, drainable and it comes in a variety of sizes. I think this is my personal favourite.
Cons: It costs a grand total of…£175. Ouch.
- Hay Pillow
Pros: These are designed with slow feeding in mind. They are portable and suitable largely for dry hay. They can be kicked about the stable with no harm coming to the horse or the pillow…although it may be a more viable option for a barefootted fellow.
Cons: They may have a tendency to be covered in poo, wee and god knows what by the morning if they’re acting as a play toy/feeder. They seem fairly DIY-able, especially as they are priced at $69! Plus they appear to only ship from the US…nothing like it in the UK.
Hopefully some of these innovative ground feeding products have sparked your interest and inspired you to create your own solutions to this problem. Of course there’s always simply chucking your hay on the floor and not being too lazy to pick it out from the bed later on…nah!