Health benefits of using a hay net
Firstly, it keeps the horses eating slower, and longer. They can’t just bury their muzzles into a pile of hay and stand there until it is all gone. The hay net slows them down, and they are forced to eat slower. And by eating slower, their digestive system can work more like it was intended to, S-L-O-W-E-R! It also helps to decrease the amount of waste that goes along with feeding hay, especially when the weather turns sloppy. If the hay is up off the ground, there is less hay to fall onto the ground and get trampled into the mud. And that is what these hay nets do. They slow the eating process down, and in turn, decreases the amount of waste that goes along with feeding horses.
When horses eat slower, like they are grazing, they have less health problems. There is a decreased risk of gastric ulcers, and decreased risk of colic.
And another benefit is that if your horse is eating all the time, slowly as nature intended, you don’t have to wait to ride them for a set amount of time after they have eaten. No more waiting for 2 hours to ride after their last meal. They eat slowly, and are actually happier to work, or even stand tied. They aren’t focused on hunger, or anticipating their next meal so they can focus on their job.
Respiratory problems also seem to diminish when your horse is fed from a hay net. I know this is partially due to shaking out the hay before feeding it. But by putting it into the bag, you are forced to shake out the hay, which helps to loosen any dust that might be in your hay.
Hay net precautions
But when it comes to horses, you have to consider the potential risks of anything you do, this includes using a hay net. If your horse is shod (wearing shoes) you will want to be careful, because they can get their hoof caught in the net. I am not sure if I would use the hay net of my horses were shod. Both of my horses are barefoot, so the risk of them getting a hoof caught up in the tiny openings of the net is pretty minimal.
Also consider where you are hanging the net. You don’t want your horse to inadvertently get caught up in the net. I hang my nets about 3 feet from the ground. It’s high enough that they can’t catch a hoof, but low enough that they are still keeping their heads lower to eat. If your horse is wearing a blanket, you will want to make sure they can’t get caught in the hay nets as well.
Hay nets——a better way to feed your horse
While there are some risks to be aware of when using a hay net for feeding your horse, I feel that the benefits far outweigh the risks. And with a little bit of effort on your part, you can make it safe to feed your horse with a hay net.
So if you have never thought about feeding your horse with a hay net, I think it is a feeding practice well worth considering, especially if you want to save your hay, and keep your horse as healthy as you can.