Monday, January 21, 2013

Slow Feed Hay Net Update Still Going Strong

I’ve been feeding Grace from a slow feed hay net for 4 months now. I am really impressed by how well it has held up and that she actually eats from it. Grace is by far the pickiest horse I’ve ever owned when it comes to hay, supplements, grain, and even treats. If her hay gets stepped on, damp or dirty she refuses to eat it. She does well on an alfalfa/orchard grass mix. I have to be sure to only buy her hay that is grown in Eastern Washington or Eastern Oregon because the hays grown on the west side of the states hold too much moisture and are never really free of the molds and mildews that Grace is sensitive to. I also have to make sure that her hay is free of chemicals and dyes. I bought a ton of beautiful green hay from a dealer last winter when my source was out. It was beautiful hay, but almost too green there was something not quite natural about it. Grace flat out refused to eat it. I believe it may have been dyed and she is sensitive enough to know she doesn’t want anything fake. With all that in mind I wasn’t sure if my Prima Donna would be willing to put out the extra effort to eat out of a hay net, especially one that was designed to slow her down.

The slow feed hay net has far exceeded all of my expectations. Grace actually eats more hay out of the net than she did when I fed all of her hay on the ground. At first I only filled the net with orchard grass and still fed plenty of alfalfa mix on the ground twice a day. I’ve started to add more of the alfalfa mix to the hay net, only leaving a small amount on the ground. The first time I filled the hay net with a few flakes of alfalfa mix added to the orchard grass I was pretty sure Grace spent the entire night eating. I went out to feed her the next morning and noticed that she wasn’t her usual demanding self. She looked tired, like she had been up all night even yawning when I asked why she didn’t meet me in her usual spot. It was then that I saw that the hay net was almost empty; I easily had put 3 feedings of hay in there the night before. I’m still working to find the right ratio of hay so that she eats enough but not gorge herself. The crazy thing is if I had put that same mix and amount of hay on the ground I would be lucky if she finished a third of it by the time she had it spread out and dirty. Now in mid-January I’m still riding 5-6 days a week and the mare is fat. The weather for the last two weeks has been dry and cold including a few nights in the 20’s, it was nice to know on those cold nights that along with the extra blanket that my horse had plenty of fuel to keep her warm. I used the hay net at the horse show in early December and for the first time didn’t leave the stall bedded in hay. It does seem odd that making it harder for my horse to eat would result in her consuming more food, but I no longer question the magic.

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