Horse owners know that horses should only eat small amounts of grub regularly. Depending on your horse’s nutritional requirements or size, it means that about 15 to 30 pounds of hay should be divided into small meals for the whole day, it also means that you’ll basically feed your horses throughout the day at regular intervals. For most horse keepers, this is not practical at all.
Since horses continually produce acid in their stomach, it would make sense why a horse becomes distressed about food. Therefore, it would be a good idea to use a slow feeder for the horses as it allows them to have access to hay and “graze” throughout the day, but would only consume a healthy amount of it. Later on, this article, we would list down the best slow feeders for horses.
Considerations to Before Purchasing a Slow Feeder
There are different types of slow feeders that you can choose from in the market, which is why a lot of horse keepers tends to get the wrong product since not all feeding systems could fit in certain circumstances.
For those who have experimented on different types of feeding systems, some of them have shared some key points to keep in mind to save the trouble of purchasing the wrong item. Here are some things that you need to consider:
Plastic or Metal Slow Feeders
If you are thinking about using a metal or plastic feeding system for your horses, the grid holes should have the right size of about 2 to 3 inches. A round or a square hole seems to be the best size hole for horses. Some products have rows of slats rather than grids, if you have a horse that needs a lot of hay, feeders that have a slat design would allow them to consume a large amount of hay. This is because it is much easier to pull large strips from it.
However, as with most slow feeders available, you should keep an eye on your horse’s gums and teeth as it could cause them to get incisor damage or even horn infections. If you regularly check on their dental health, there wouldn’t be any problems at all.
Prepare a Trapping Method
Some horses are smart enough to grab the grid and then toss it out from the feeder. Not all horses can figure this out, but if you think your horse is smart enough to pull this off, then it would be a good idea to have some kind of method to prevent them from removing the grid.
Hay Nets as Slow Feeders
Most keepers prefer using hay nets as a slow feeder for horses. If you’re considering on using a net, you need to regularly check your horse’s gums to make sure they’re not wounded by rubbing or pushing against the net. A lot of hay net users don’t experience any problems from using it, but it would still be a good idea to check your horse’s teeth.
A lot of keepers have found that a 1.5-inch net hole is the best size for a slow feeder, especially if the horses are new to using hay nets or if you have large horses. For ponies or for those who are used to extracting hay from feeding systems, a 1-inch sized hole would be a good option. However, you should definitely keep an eye on their gums regularly.
If your horse has a shod, you should keep the hay net in a protective feeder as they could paw on the net, which may cause their heels to get caught on the net. You can use metal, wood, or poly to protect the feeder.
Place the Feeder as Close to the Ground
To stimulate a natural grazing position for your horses, you should place the feeder on the ground as it would be good for the horse’s topline and neck. Also, keeping the feeder at the ground could prevent them from inhaling the hay’s dust.
Set Up the Feeders with an Extra
Having one extra feeder in the horse’s stall can prevent the dominant horse(s) from stress and anxiety, which causes them to move the other horses off the feeders. As an example, if you have about four horses in a barn or stall, you might want to get a 4-horse slow feeder plus 1-horse slow feeder.
Also, consider thinking about your herd’s differences before selecting the number and size of feeders. If you have a horse that likes to eat alone by pushing the others away, he might take over the 4-horse feeders, which causes the other three to share in the 1-horse feeder. Therefore, you would need to make various considerations to make everything work out for your herd. Before making an adjustment, observe your horse’s for a week to know what to do.
Use a Non-Toxic or Untreated Slow Feeders
Keep in mind that your horses would be inhaling, licking, and touching the feeder with their lips for hours. Their mucous membranes are very absorbent, so make sure that the feeders are free from toxic or treated materials.
Like for example if you use a wooden slow feeder, you should make sure that it’s free from varnishes. Also, avoid using feeders that have protruding or sharp parts on them.
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