Monday, October 27, 2014

Product Review: Hay Burners Slow Feed Bags

Over the years we have tried different methods to slow down the rate the horses eat hay. Horses are grazers and do better when they eat a little over time. We have wrapped hay in landscaping mesh with success, but a lot of effort. Peggy purchased Nibble Nets and those worked really well too. For Winston we combined the Nibble Net and the landscaping mesh to make the holes smaller. Mom went a step further by purchasing fish net when she went to Florida. The fish net was too hard for Rosemary, but Winston did figure it out. We still have more fish net to play with and will work with it more in the future.
When we moved to Peggy's, the lack of grass made finding the right bags imperative. Peggy found an Australian company that made slow feed bags and bought two. We used them for the boys when we went to the Welsh show in September. The 3-4 flakes in each bag lasted the whole drive there and the five hour wait. Peggy and I were impressed. The squares are 1 1/2".
The Australian Slow Feed Bag

Afterwards Peggy went in search of others a little closer to home. She found Hay Burners Equine LLC. They have standard sizes and will custom make bags also. Knowing that our guys already mastered the 1 1/2", she purchased the 1" square polyester and the 1" hex nylon in the half bale size. The bags area  great size and fit over a muck bucket making it easy to fill. We found that the horses prefer the square bags versus the hex bags. This was because the hex bags are smaller when hanging. All the horses including Dottie with her big lips are able to eat from both though.

Hex material

Most mornings we come in to find some hay still in the bags. I love that because it means they have hay available all night. We have hung them from the fence and thrown them on the ground. Very effective slow feeders.
Now for the negatives. The website warns about shrinkage. That is a fact. We had rain soon after receiving the bags and soon the square bags showed shrinkage. Unfortunately the shrinkage was not even causing a bottle neck effect. Just getting a couple flakes past that point was difficult. The hex bags had minor shrinkage, but were still easy to fill. Peggy and I took pictures of the worst bag and sent it to the company. The company said they had not seen shrinkage in quite that way. Since they were unable to get the netting to work, they discontinued that material. For us, they sent two more square bags for free. The other negative is that the rope they use to secure the top can be frayed by a fence. Good news is that it is easily replaced for less than $5. We have replaced 2 so far. To help prevent fraying we put them on the ground when dry.
Roscoe says "I got this square bag"

The company does what they can to make these bags as durable as possible. They also send repair materials in case your horse causes a hole.
What they don't tell you is what interesting things can happen with the bags. We knew from Winston and the fish net bag that a horse could toss them under a fence and not be able to reach it after. So when we put them on the ground we make sure they are away from the fence. One morning I came in to find one bag in the grey boys area, but the other was missing. I looked at the fence line and could not find it. As I walked back to the stalls, I saw something in one of them. In the corner of the stall was the missing bag. One of the grey boys, I bet Winston, walked that bag all the way to the stall. Another time Peggy found one bag in each of the stalls. So not only are they "grazing," they are also moving around. To cap off the hay bag adventures, twice we have found this in the morning:


Yep that is a hay bag in the water trough. The first time they soaked it for most the night. The second time they tossed a morning bag in for about and hour. I will say they ate the hay once we fished the bag out of the trough, so nothing was wasted. It is not fun to bail out an entire trough though.

So if you are looking for a slow feed bag, definitely try these. Depending on the size you want they run from $27-$45. I especially like them for long show days to keep the horses occupied.

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