What is a horse slow feeder? Are slow feeders good for horses? What are the best slow feeders for horses? Are you asking these same questions? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This article is dedicated to answering these common questions and many more to give you a better understanding of horse slow feeders. Horse slow feeders are a product that has revolutionized the horse feeding industry since it takes equine technology/research and produces a product that not only simulates a horse’s natural foraging behavior but also dramatically keeps hay waste at bay. However, there are certain dangers involved with horse slow feeders, like horse dental problems or unnatural feeding positions, which we’ll all talk about later. So hang tight, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover! We’ll start at the bottom.
What Is A Horse Slow Feeder?
Basically, a horse slow feeder is a device that allows your horse to eat slowly and consistently by covering the hay with a net, polyester net panels, etc. Horse slow feeders include metal crates that can hold hay, nets that can be wrapped around large round or square bales of hay, and many others. Slow feed hay feeders basically allow for a horse to consume hay, for longer periods of time while at the same time, keeping hay waste to a bare minimum. To summarize, a horse slow feeder is a way to slow down a horse’s food consumption, better simulating a horse’s constant foraging behavior.
Do Slow Feeders Work For Horses?
The obvious answer is yes, slow feeders do work for horses. We’ll explain this more fully as we continue.
Are Slow Feeders Good For Horses?
This question can go both ways, but here’s a quick spoil alert: yes, slow feeders are generally good for horses; however, there are some slow feeder cautions that you should be aware of.
Why Slow Feeders Are Good For Horses
We’ll start off with some reasons why horse slow feeders are a great idea and then give you some cautions relating to slow feed hay feeders. But, we’ll just say upfront, the benefits of horse slow feeders far outweigh the dangers or cautions.
1. Natural Feeding Behaviour
This is a huge benefit. Horses in their natural environment will often graze huge swaths of pasture for many hours each day. However, a domesticated horse nowadays often remains trapped in a stall with periodic meals each day. Of course, this goes against feeding patterns that are natural to a horse, which can result in serious consequences, which we’ll talk about later.
Photo Credit: When It Clicks
Horse slow feeders solve this dilemma: they allow a horse to nibble potentially 24/7 or whenever they want to, which is much more natural. This results in good digestion for your horse and an overall more-relaxed horse.
2. Boredom Solver
Does your horse struggle with boredom? What better way to keep him occupied than to have him nibbling on hay. A bored horse can be a dangerous horse, and a hay slow feeder helps solve the boredom problem.
3. Anxiety Reliever
Like many creatures, horses can struggle with anxiety, which can directly affect their overall health and well-being. Only allowing a horse to eat at certain times can actually cause stress and anxiety for your horse as they may feel like they have to cram in a lot of food at those mealtimes. Periodic mealtimes for your horse can result in gastric ulcer syndrome, crib biting, weaving, or stall walking.
As an alternative, a slow-feed hay feeder will allow for them to continuously eat throughout the day, whenever they want without the fear of overeating, since your horses are only nibbling on small amounts of food at a time.
There are plenty of other ways why a slow feeder is great for your horses; if you want to read more about them, this article is another great resource.
There are generally some cautions to all great ideas or technological advances. So, here are a couple of dangers that you should be aware of before purchasing an equine slow feeder.
1. Metal Or Steel Grates
Photo Credit: Listen to Your Horse
Metal slow feeder mesh or steel grates around the hay can cause dental issues for your horse. For more information on what kinds of slow feeders are or are not beneficial to your horse’s dental wellbeing, check out this article.
2. Feeding Posture
Although haynets are great hay slow feeders, they can be a detriment if placed too high or too low on the fence, post, or what have you. If the slow feed hay feeder net is placed too high, it could possibly negatively affect your horse’s posture since horses do not naturally graze with their heads reaching upwards. This posture could also negatively affect your horse’s respiratory health.
3. Safety Cautions
When it comes to horse slow feeders, haynets seem to pose most of the dangers.
One caution to consider is to keep the haynet well off the ground. If the haynet is too close to the ground, your horse may get its leg or horseshoe caught in the net, resulting in a broken leg ripped-off horseshoe.
If you want to learn more about some hay slow feeder concerns, browse this article.
We’ll sum up our scribblings about why slow feeders are good for horses here in this table:
|Horse Slow Feeder Benefits||Horse Slow Feeder Cautions|
|Promotes Natural Feeding Behaviour||Dental Concerns|
|Boredom Solver||Equine Posture|
|Anxiety Reliever||Equine Personal Safety|
It’s safe to say that the pros far outweigh the cons. What’s more is if you are concerned for your horse’s wellbeing (as you should), Farmco’s or many other heavy-duty horse slow feeders wipe out most of these concerns in the first place.
What Are The Best Horse Slow Feeders?
An excellent question! We’ll list 3 that we think are some of the best equine slow feeders on the market. For a more in-depth study on some of the top hay feeders in the equine industry, read this great resource.
HF608SF Horse Slow Feeder
Cutting hay waste to almost zero, the HF608SF horse slow feeder is one of Farmco’s most popular equine slow feeder models. The SF series can accommodate groups of up to 8-10 horses. At the same time, this model allows the feeding of entire large round or large square bales, drastically reducing labor.
Using an efficient net panel design, the loading-to-feeding process is really simple – once the bale is loaded, the panels lay down against it so your horses can begin their meal. The net panel comes standard with 2-½” holes.
What’s more, is that the hay is protected from the elements overhead with a 29-gauge metal roof.
Below is an overview of what sets the HF608SF horse slow feeder apart from other feeders.
The Texas Haynet is super simple to use and is also much more affordable and economical than the HF608SF. Manufactured from a knotted nylon mesh, this horse hay feeder is simply a net bag with a drawstring/cinch at one end. This allows the hay net to be used as a standalone feeder or to modify other feeders, such as bale rings or hay rack feeders.
What’s more, is that they are available in standard and heavy-gauge configurations. Netting hole sizes can also be selected, with 1.75”, 2.5”, and 3” options to choose from.
Superior Horse Hay Slow Feeder by Derby Originals
Photo Credit: DERBY ORIGINALS
Derby Hay Originals came up with the 4-sided hay bag concept that is deemed to be one of the best slow feed hay bags for horses. It comes reinforced with nylon webbing and 1.75” square holes. Ideally used for 1 to 2 horses at a time, these equine feeders use flakes of hay to feed your horse.
Here’s a quick table to sum up some of the best horse slow feeders in the industry.
|Feeder||HF608SF by Farmco||Heavy Gauge Round Bale Hay Net by Texas Haynet||Superior Slow Feeder Horse Hay Bag by Derby Originals|
|Type||Covered Steel Feeder||Hay Net||Hay Net Bag (Individual)|
|Bale Size||Large Round||Large Round or Large Square||Flakes|
|Material(s)||Painted Steel, Woven Polyester||Knotted Nylon Mesh||Reinforced Nylon Webbing|
|Pros||slow feed functionality, simple to use||Slow feed functionality, simple to use||Slow feed functionality, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive||Hay is sitting on the ground||Requires frequent refills, difficult to close|
How Do You Make A Horse Slow Feeder?
There are a bunch of simple ways to make a slow feed hay feeder. Here’s a quick list of ideas on how to make a field slow hay feeder for your horses.
1. Plastic Container Or Wooden Box
Using a plastic or wooden container, simply place the hay in a net and secure it to the container. Here’s a video that shows how this is done.
Another way would be to place the hay in a wooden box and lay a mesh or flexible material over the top of the hay. Then, make sure to fluff the hay and place some fresh hay on top in order to invite the horses. If you’re interested in this route, see this video.
2. Plastic Trash Can
This is another way to DIY an equine slow feeder. Simply cut out a large opening in the bottom of the side of a large trash can. Secure a mesh over the opening. Secure the trash can to the fence or a post. Fill it with hay and let your horses “chow down”!
Are Slow Feed Haynets Good For Horses?
Since a haynet is a type of slow feeder, yes, slow feed haynets are good for horses by nature (we described the pros of slow feeders above). In sum, they cause less hay waste and are simple to use. However, here are some reasons why slow feed haynets may not be a good method of horse slow feeding:
- Haynets can rip
- Horse’s legs could get caught in the net
- Potentially discourage natural horse foraging posture (if haynet is hung up)
- Shod horses could rip off horseshoes in the net
- Less hay in haynet means more difficulty for horses to extract hay since the hay becomes a lot of broken bits
Photo Credit: EQUUS PRIME
Should Horses Be Fed On The Ground?
Our quick answer is no, horses should not be fed on the ground due to hay waste, horse overeating, and other reasons. For more information on this question, read this article.
Do Haynets Hurt Horses’ Teeth?
The quick answer is no, most haynets do not hurt a horse’s teeth. However, horse slow feeders with metal grates to cover the hay have been known to cause equine dental issues. This article is a great resource to learn more about whether horse slow feeders are bad for a horse’s teeth.
How To Make A Horse Slow Feeder Bucket?
Making a horse slow feeder from a bucket is really simple and relatively affordable. Here’s a video on how someone took a trash can and converted it into a horse slow feeder.
How Much Do Horse Slow Feeders Cost?
Since there is plenty of horse slow feeder options out there, we’ll give you a couple of general cost ideas so that you can get a rough idea of what to expect to pay for a horse slow feeder.
To start off, here’s a list of how much some horse slow feeders cost.
|Horse Slow Feeder Type||Cost|
|HF608SF by Farmco||$$$$$|
|HF45H by Farmco||$$$$|
|Heavy Gauge Round Bale Hay Net by Texas Haynet||$$$|
|Slow Feed Hay Ball Feeder Toy by Equi-Essentials||$$|
|Superior Slow Feeder Horse Hay Bag by Derby Originals||$|
For direct pricing of the individual feeders, simply click the hyperlinked feeders above.
Although the Farmco feeders are more expensive, the HF608SF horse slow feeder, for example, is a Farmco feeder that generally pays itself off in hay savings in the first couple of years. That means that if you purchase a heavy-duty, top-quality HF608SF field hay feeder for your horses right now, 3-5 years from now, that investment will probably have paid itself off in hay savings.
All in all, we hope this section gives you a general idea of the costs involved with a horse slow feeder investment.
Wrapping Things Up…
After all of this information, we hope that you have a better idea of what a horse slow feeder can do for you. If you have any questions about any of our products, just let us know! We admit we’re biased toward our products, but, in reality, our products are actually made from top-quality materials that will allow your horse feeder to serve you for years to come! If you’re interested in purchasing a Farmco horse slow feeder, you can also request a free quote here. Well, that’s all for now, happy horse-slow-feeder hunting!