Friday, November 16, 2012

Slow Feed Hay Nets

WHO are the hay nets designed for?
I was originally introduced to the hay nets for horses but after using them for some time, it has also served well for my cows. Some of my clients also use them for their goats and sheep. Hay nets are best used with barefoot animals, so shoes do not get caught and pulled off by the material, and animals who are polled or dehorned so that their horns do not get caught up also.

WHAT sizes do they come in? And WHAT are they made of?
 Hay nets can come in all shapes and sizes. I make them most commonly Bale Size (Fit an entire bale inside) and Round Bale Size (Fit an entire round bale inside) but flake feeders (fits roughly 3-5 flakes) are also available as well as custom hay walls (Netted on the side and open at the top for handler to drop the hay into). If you have another idea, let me know and I'd be willing to customize the bag for your wants and needs. The holes of the hay nets are commonly 1 inch 3/4 but other sizes are available too (1/2 inch, 1 inch, 2 inch) if your horse has alternative needs. Hay nets are made of Hockey Netting.

WHERE do you use them?
You can place hay nets almost anywhere. The farther you scatter them, the more movement your horse/s will endure! Putting them away from their water/shelter or over obstacles (gravel, rocks, small logs, streams, etc) can really expose them and their hooves to great surroundings, building confidence and strength in no time! You can also place hay nets in doors too for those bad weather days. Tying them to trees tend to help keep them where you left them, other wise your horse will likely tumble them around and make it difficult to find them.

WHEN do you use them?
 Slow feed hay nets purpose is to extend the longevity of the horses feed and allow them to 'graze' 24/7. Some only use the hay nets when their horse is locked in overnight so they don't become bored or hungry from the long period without food. Some people only feed twice a day but use the hay nets to help make those feedings last longer throughout the day/night.

WHY do you use them?
For many reasons! I'll attach a few articles below to sum up the reasons for slow hay feed nets.
~Stephen Duren, PhD, an equine nutritionist and founder of Performance Horse Nutrition in Weiser, Idaho:
"One reason these different feeds may cause ulceration is because the main buffer for acid in the stomach is saliva," Duren explains. "The horse produces about twice as much saliva when eating hay or grass than when eating grain. The very nature of a grain diet takes away some of the protection in the stomach."
Horses at pasture graze almost continuously, and at the same time they produce saliva. "Acid in the stomach is produced on a continuous basis," he says. "It doesn't stop. So the constant eating is a help."
~The other major cause of ulcers is exercise. The horse's stomach lining contains glandular tissue (mucus-producing glands) that helps protect against the effects of stomach acid, but the top part of the stomach is not as well-protected. There is a thin layer of mucus that coats this area of the stomach, but there are no mucous glands there.
"When the horse begins to exercise, the diaphragm and movement of internal organs compress the stomach and push acid from the buffered area up into the nonbuffered area," says Duren.
~Tom Trotter, MS, general manager of Progressive Nutrition in Iowa, says horses are not like humans in how their digestive systems work. "We salivate mainly when we eat, and certain enzymes are produced when food enters the stomach. Horses are producing digestive acids all the time. So if a horse has an empty stomach, he is at risk for ulcers," says Trotter. "The most effective way to prevent ulcers is to allow horses full-time access to hay or pasture. This also gives the animal something to do, which relieves stress and boredom. When we do consultations on farms, one of the first things we do is check to see if there is hay in the stall."
(Link to the above articles
~Diana Thompson
Even though our domestic horses share their evolution with wild horses, they, in contrast, remain confined in small enclosures and wait for food to be brought to them. Usually this food is packaged as flakes of high-quality dried hay and bite-sized, nutrient-rich grain and pelleted concentrates. Because of the less-abrasive pre-cut nature of this food, domestic horses don't have to use their front teeth to cut the stems. Instead, they use their lips and tongue to stuff large amounts of the calorie-dense material into the back of their mouths and grind away. It only takes four to five hours a day for a horse in this situation to eat enough food to meet his caloric needs.
Unfortunately, because of this unnatural eating style, most of our domestic horses have dental problems. While many horse owners are aware of the sharp edges which can form on their horses' back teeth, one significant and largely unrecognized problem involves the front teeth. Because they are not used to cut the hay, these teeth, known as the incisors, become too long in relation to the back teeth. This interferes with the horse's ability to chew and utilize his food. This can cause him to experience loss of stamina and condition as well as various digestive disorders including colic.
One dental problem occurs when the horse is not continuously grazing: he does not wear his incisors down by nipping off each bite of grass. If you watch your horse eating grass and eating hay, you will easily see the difference in his chewing pattern. When he eats grass, each bite is nipped off by the front teeth and then transferred to the molars for chewing. When he eats pre-cut hay, he takes a huge mouthful, shoves it to the back of his mouth and grinds away.
These hay nets not only make your horses hay last longer AND improve their teeth wear, they also reduce the waste of excess hay that gets deficated on. A few clients who have purchased roundbale feeders say that the feeders double the longevity and greatly reduce the waste!

 HOW do you use them?
 Hay nets are designed to be tied and untied from the top. Flakes have to be placed inside the bag before being refastened. Bale feeders can be slipped right over the bale and retied. Round bale feeders are similar to the bale feeders except you have to flip the round bale in order to pull the bag completely onto the round bale. The excess rope on the flake feeders and bale feeders can be used to tie to trees or hooks in your barn or around your pasture.
Regular flake feeder $25
Regular bale feeder $45
Regular round bale feeder $150
For more info on custom bags and putting in your order, feel free to contact me!

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