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
- Top 8 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.
Top 8 Best Slow Feeders for Horses
Now that we’re through with all the considerations, let’s move on to the list of the best feeding systems for your herd of horses. When it comes to taking care of horses, you should take time on understanding their natural behavior. Their behaviors could differentiate when compared to some stable routines and what kind of impact it may have. Horse feeding is a good example of this.
Using the right slow feeder for your herd could mimic their natural feeding pattern in the wild, and it would keep them busy for a long time. Now here are the best feeders for your horses:
Derby Originals Hay Bag Slow Feeder
This hay net slow feeder has an opening of about 2×2 inches, it is made with a heavy-duty nylon with about 108 stitches for durability. The bag’s Velcro top closure, with addition of bull snap, would prevent your horses from eating on top of the bag. The great thing about the bag is that it has a bottom strap with a bull snap to help stabilize the net.
The bag measures about 25 by 21 by 7 inches, which easily holds about 2 flakes of hay and is perfect to be used in the trailer, stable, or even at a show. Since the holes are about 2 inches in size, this makes this slow feeder ideal for large horses. The hay bag is available in green, black, pink, blue, and purple colors which provides various color options to choose from.
Derby Originals 4-Sided Hay bag Slow Feeder
If you have about two or three horses in your stable, this hay bag slow feeder would be a good option as it allows the horses to feed on each side of the bag. The hole’s opening is about 1.75 by 3.5 inches in sizes on all four sides of the bags, so this makes it an ideal slow feeder for small and large horses.
However, if you happen to have a dominant horse in the stable, it would be a great idea to get at least two or three of these hay bags. The bags are available in small, medium, and large sizes and each of them have different hole sizes. Therefore, make you’ve chosen the right hole size that is not too big or too small for your herd of horses.
Freedom Feeder Kensington Horse Feeder
For a trouble-free feeding routine, you can just hang this hay feeder beside your horse’s stable and leave them to feed on their own, but make sure that the slow feeder is low enough for them to stimulate a natural grazing behavior. The feeder can hold about 30 pounds of hay to keep your herd well-fed all day without overfeeding on hay.
In the wild, horses naturally eat a few blades of grass by grazing slowly throughout the day. This feeding net can mimic the exact process of how horses graze on grass without eating too much way, overfeeding can cause several problems on their health, so it would be a good idea to use a slow feeder.
Freedom Feeder Extended Hay Net
This hay bag is ideal for those who have a large herd of horses, it can hold about 60 pounds of hay and can feed the horses for up to 48 hours. But it would depend on the number of horses you have. The feeder comes with two carabiners to allow you to hang the net or to tie it down in your horse’s stable.
Using a slow feeder for your horses can help reduce behavioral issues and anxiety during meal times. It also improves their attitudes and performances, since slow feeders reduce the amount of grub that your horses feed on, it helps reduce them from risks like ulcers, colic, obesity, boredom, and others. Satisfy your horse’s grazing needs with this net slow feeder.
Shires Hay Net Greedy Feeder
If you have a horse that is a greedy eater, then you should use the Shires hay net to slow your horse down. This way, your horse or horses can have better digestion and an extended stable activity. The size of the holes is about 1-inch, which is a good size for heavy eaters. However, if it’s your horse’s first time feeding on slow feeders, you should regularly check their dental health for any signs gum or teeth damages.
The nets come in small and large sizes, the small one can hold about 15 pounds of hay, while the large one can hold about 21 pounds. In addition, the net is sturdy enough to handle all the nips and bite of the horses. The only downside about this net is that the twine softens with use after a long time.
Shires Deluxe Hay Net
If you are looking for a large slow feeder that can hold about 3 to 4 flakes of hay, then this deluxe hay net from Shires would be an ideal option for you. The hay net feeder is also large enough to feed a few horses at the same time. The hole sizes are about 2 inches, so this is a good choice if you have large horses in the stall.
The great thing about this net is that it is much sturdier than most net hay feeders, the color is great as well. The net is made of good quality materials, same with its metal rings. Some customers said that it has been holding up pretty well, even after several months of usage and with all the horse’s chewing.
Derby Originals Go-Around Slow Feeder
If you prefer using a rounded feeder bag, rather than the square ones, then lucky for you as we have found a good quality, rounded feeder bag for your horses. The bag is covered in holes around its sides, which is about 3.5 to 1.5 inches in size to make feeding easier for your horses. The bottom part of the bag is reinforced with a mesh to allow the dust to fall through.
The bag comes with a heavy-duty rope for hanging, the rope is about 75ft.long. However, before you hang this bag in your horse’s stable, make sure that it is low enough to allow natural grazing. In addition to its durability, the bag is covered with 110 cross stitches to make sure the bag can handle a lot of wear and tears throughout the months and years of usages.
Weaver Leather Slow Feeder Hay Net
This slow feeder is designed with smaller holes to promote better digestion and could prevent your horses from eating too much hay. The hay net is about 36 inches in full length, so you can easily fit about 4 or more flakes of hay depending on the sizes and how tight you’ll tie the bag.
The bag is made out of polyester to add some extra durability, the bag can last for months or years of usage without having too many signs of damages. The size of the holes are about 2 inches, so it’s a good choice for large and aggressive horses.
The typical net feeders for horses are quite similar to traditional hay nets, but the only difference between them is that slow feeders are sturdier in construction and have smaller openings. This way the horses can feed and graze naturally on the feeders without consuming too much hay.
However, before you use the feeder on your horses, make sure that it is safe enough for them to use. Check if the nets are easy to fill, hang, empty, and move around the stall and if there’s a chance that your horses with shoes could possibly get their hooves stuck on the net.