Originally posted December 2010…
Why should we slow feed? Well, it is really simple. Horses are supposed to graze just about all the time. They have very small stomachs and are physiologically structured to have small quantities of food in their stomachs at all times.
How do most of us feed now? (I do it, too.) We feed twice or three times a day. The horses bolt down their food and then stand around, waiting, the rest of the time. And when you do feed, they act like they haven’t been fed in years — the pushing/shoving begins!
Slow feeding – inhibiting the speed in which the horse can consume – so their food lasts longer and therefore helps meet the need to have small quantities of food in their stomachs at all times.
Slow feeding has many executions – store bought and homemade.
STORE BOUGHT SLOW FEEDERS
I found several feeders that can be shipped to you. They range from haybag-type assemblies to full-blown farm construction. I’ve listed a few of my favorites here.
THE SLOW DOWN. Here is the link. I have to say, what I liked about it was that it is small, easy to clean, no hooves will get trapped and you CAN SOAK your hay in the same bucket you feed (there is a drain in the bottom). No more messy, wet hay dispersal.
However, when I saw the price I kinda gulped. I mean, to me, this looks like a supplement bucket with holes cut out of the top and a spigot PVCglued to the bottom. But, I was totally wrong. It is much, much larger than a supplement bucket and it is made of much more durable plastic. This slow feeder was my favorite for inside the barn, for sure since I have to soak feed occasionally. A novel idea!
HOCKEY NETTING: I love this idea because it is so simple. It is called the Freedom Feeder. Simple. Made with hockey netting and clips. Evidently, hockey netting is small, sturdy and fairly inexpensive. (You can get it at sporting goods manufacturers if you want to try this yourself. Here is a link to one in particular.) Anyway, you have to be careful with netting whenever your horses have shoes because they can get caught. However there are a ton of ways to use netting. You can roll it into a pillow and throw it out onto the pasture for hours of fun! You can hang it in a stall, on a fence… I’ve added a few photos of ingenious people with their contraptions.
THE NATURAL FEEDER: Again, I really liked this one. It looks durable and well thought-out. Pretty, too! Here is the link.
THE GRAZER: This is the industrial version. It looks very sturdy and it would drain after a rainstorm. I saw that you have to call for the price. It does look nice. So, here is the link.
BRUMBY SLOW FEEDER: I thought this was ingenious! Sturdy, easy to load, the horses can’t get tangled… the only issue is that they aren’t eating on the ground (more natural). I see that they have put a tub below the feeder to catch all the excess. I’m sure this is very good for windy and rainy areas, too. Here is that link.
DURABLE HAY BAGS WITH SMALLER HOLES: This is a no-brainer. They are easy to fill and mount. You cannot just throw them on the ground, however. And, some to rip apart. I like the Nibblenet. I have one. You can also try the BusySnacker, which is similar.
I’ve also heard that this small holed net from Smith Brothers works quite well. I’m thinking you could rig this in a number of ways. On a fence, in a stall, in your trailer or maybe even tie it up in a ball and toss it to them. THESE ARE ON SALE RIGHT NOW for $12.99. I think that is a great deal to experiment. Here is the link.
I’ve attached photos of clever additions to this idea. One is making a plate for the bag so it will stay dry in the snow.
LARGE FEEDERS: I don’t know much about round bales as we don’t have them here. But, I did see several variations on the them. TEXAS HAY NET the least expensive one… It is a refined marine netting (fish net) made out of an expensive thread from France.
This won’t work as a slow feeder, but people like them because they keep the hay where is lies. Just an fyi… Farm stores have these as well as Amazon and a bunch of agricultural supply places.
These are my favorite! I love how people just put stuff together and it works!
BARREL FEEDER: This is a barrel with a haynet attached to the bottom and then mounted to a fence or wall.
HALF BARREL FEEDER: This is a variation of the theme. Here, the cut the barrel in half length-wise, and then used baling twine (nice if you have the time..) for the netting at the bottom. They also hinged a top!
BOX FEEDERS: There are many ways to make a box and put a grate on top to make the horses eat more slowly. I’ve attached several photos. I do like the idea of having them eat through the sides. That is a nice twist.
I prefer the ones that are shaped in a “V” so that the rain water has somewhere to go.
People have gone crazy with small holed netting and hockey nets. I’ve put lots of photos up.
PEN MATERIAL AND FENCE POSTS
I thought this was cool. It was made up of whatever they had around… I mean, I’ve got all of that stuff but I could never make anything THAT nice!
HOME DEPOT RUN:
For me, I think a walk around Home Depot — armed with all of this knowledge — and see what ideas may come. I think I’ll bring Hubby…!
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
Very informative post, You have well explained. It helped me to gain a better understanding of the whole process in detail. Thanks for sharing valuable information.
How do I get the link to the slowdown horse feeder
How do you make the half barrel feeder
How do you make the half barrel feeder?
I’ve been using slow feeders for a couple of years now and have tried a number of them. I even designed and built my own and if you are interested in the how-to check out:
After using these for a couple of years, I have found that I, and the horses, much prefer the net over the metal grate. I am planning on modifying my boxes to have net lids instead of metal grates.
The best nets I have found so far are made by Chinch-Chix, they are pricey, but very tough and well made. The hockey netting does not hold up long. I’ve written a little about some of my net experiences as well, you might find it helpful:
Hope this is helpful to you. How is Tess doing?
This post is as important today as it was three years ago, so thank you for sharing it again! Some of these ideas are brilliant health-improvers and real time savers. However, it’s imperative to remember that a horse must eat with their noses pointed to the ground, just as they would if they were grazing, or their teeth will not wear down evenly. If they’re forced to pull hay sideways from nets, whether hung low or high, they will require much more frequent floating by a dentist, at least every six months, and their jaws can become unbalanced, causing stiffness and/or pain in their jaws, neck, spine, shoulders, and more. Just my humble opinion :)
Please remember folks horses should feed with their heads down.
Wow…that was great. You have put so much information up there. At the moment I am making barrel feeders. I use slow feed nets right now by CinchChix in the states.
Good job with this…it helped a lot of people! Thanks
I just bought Nibblenets and love them. I stall my Appy who has night blindness from dusk til dawn which, during this time of year, can be almost 15 hours. He’s still working on 2 flakes of hay at 10 pm. after being stalled since 4pm. And there is no waste which makes cleaning easier too.
Very informative and well written!