Hay nets not only slow down horses’ feeding speed, but they also prevent hay from spreading in the box and ensure a constant food intake. But hay nets are not the same as hay nets.
Important note: keep eating
Today’s sporting and recreational horses still contain the digestive tract of former grassland residents. The structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract remain unchanged. This means that horses must always consume a small amount of feed. The stomach should not remain idle for more than four hours, otherwise there is a risk that stomach acid will erode the stomach wall. Gastric ulcers are dangerous.
To ensure this, hay nets are ideal. Stitching slows down the feed rate. And drastically. For example: put a kilogram of hay in a hay net with a 4 × 4 cm screen, and increase the feeding speed from 34 minutes (using bulk hay) to 66 minutes.
Location of hay nets
In addition to these obvious advantages, hay nets bring risks and dangers to horses. Generally, hay nets should be placed as deep as possible, preferably on the ground, to mimic the natural feeding behaviour or posture during grazing. Unfortunately, deep grass nets can easily cause harm.
Therefore, a padded horse is less risky than a horse with a horseshoe. Spike horses are easily caught in the hay net by the legs of the horseshoe and are therefore vulnerable. If the hay net is placed higher, it will not mimic the horse’s natural feeding position, which may cause muscle tension and incorrect tooth wear.
Free-hanging hay nets are particularly delicate. Here, the horse must make a special effort to get enough hay from the net. In many cases, there is a permanent dislocation. A square hay net that can be fixed directly to the wall provides a better option. Here, the chance of a bad head hug and being caught by a horseshoe is minimized.
However, the risk of injury cannot be ruled out. During the feeding process, particularly impatient horses will be hit or scratched with hooves-sometimes even tall.
To what extent does a tight hay net make sense?
Opinions differ on the mesh size of hay nets. However, in general, you should not choose too small stitches. Because the mesh is larger, the horse can eat faster, but he can also remove a bunch of hay from the net without any effort. If this is not the case, it can lead to frustration. The horse is impatient.
This can lead to various problems: the horse becomes restless, begins to scratch, bites and pulls the hay net. Another problem is that when the mesh size is too small, the horses start to pick more and chew less. However, chewing is very important for the digestive process. Trained bone disease and equestrian consultant Julie von Bismarck confirmed that it stimulates saliva production, providing a natural buffer that makes horses resistant to stomach acid.
In the end, it can be said that tight mesh can lead to depression, hunger, and rapid chewing. At the same time, the narrower mesh reduces the risk of injury, slows down feeding, and increases horse use. In this regard, the owner of each horse should consider the grid size of the corresponding horse, including its own advantages and disadvantages.
Please contact us if any questions, our sales team will always be happy to provide you with the most professional info.