Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's Talk Slow Feed Hay Bags

With the onset of colder weather, slow feed hay bags have become very important. We want the horses to have hay as much as possible with out them eating us out of the barn. These bags help considerably, allowing them to "graze" rather than gobble.

Lower left corner: Shire Greedy Feeder,  then Green is Greedy Steed, upper left and center Two SmartPak , lower center: Hayburner square Upper right: Hayburner Hex 

So here is what we have found about different bags:

We have 4 of these, two styles
Nibble Nets: Great bags, pricey (can get to over $100), fairly durable, comes in 3 hole sizes.
They have developed a lot of different styles to suit a buyers needs. Peggy bought the hanging one sided feeder and one double net. The mesh over time does wear out from the horse's teeth. We used baling twine and landscaping mesh to fix big holes. The solid backs  and the areas around the "D" rings used for hanging, tend to show wear quicker than the mesh portions. Duck tape helped extend the life for one Winston used. We only use the ones we have now as quick fill in's because the holes are too big for our horses. They do make a 1.25" hole bag now, but the smaller hole increases the price.

We have 2 of these.
Extra Greedy Steed Premium Hay Net: Super bags, mid range price ($40), durable, easy to fill
These bags are from a NZ company. Peggy ordered these in the spring. The bags are knotless and are available in other styles and sizes. I really like the construction of the bags which helps with easy filling. The bright green color makes finding them in a field easier. They use rope for the drawstring which is thick enough to make tying and untying less frustrating. If tied to a fence, the rope will start to show some wear. We have not had to replace any rope yet. The company does not mention it, but we have seen shrinkage. Not excessive, but enough to see a difference. We have used these bags in the trailer and at shows. A filled bag lasted the Cob boys the whole 7 hours drive and wait time. We just refilled for the ride home. Overall a great buy.

We have 2 Hex bags and 4 square bags, each 1/2 bale size
Hayburners Hay Nets: Smallest slow feed, mid range price($35-40), fairly durable, fairly easy to fill
I wrote a review about these about a month ago. Peggy found these when looking for bags made in America. This company really tries to make durable slow feed bags. The products are the smallest holes out of all the bags we have found. They come in square or hexagon patterns and have different strengths available. We have the half bale size and each horse gets one bag. That one bag will last the horse the day and night. The biggest problem with them is the material shrinks in a bottleneck fashion after getting wet. Hopefully they have solved this problem since we informed them about it. The bottleneck makes filling them difficult. For horses that need slow feeders in a stall, these bags are the best. The hexagon hole bags did shrink, but do not have the bottleneck and are still easy to fill. They include repair materials with each bag for those who have horses tough on bags. Comrade has made a couple bigger holes when we hang the bags because he grabs a big bite, then proceeds to shake and pull until he gets it to come out. We solve that little issue by feeding them loose on the ground.

We have 8 of these
SmarkPak Small Hole Hay Net: 3.5cm holes, low price (under $20), durable, super easy to fill
After our shrinkage issue, Peggy found these nylon mesh bags. These bags have a wider opening which makes filling them a breeze. By far the easiest bag to fill. The holes are too big for my guys, but it still slows them down a little. They have a great nylon drawstring that seems to very durable. We feed these loose on the ground and have not seen any wear from the horses hooves or teeth. The biggest issue I have with these is that they lose a larger amount of hay as the horses move them around. And for some reason my guys think that hay is no good. That problem just comes from the bigger holes, but is really minor. It is nice to have an "easier" option for some of the older guys. We just have to refill more often than the other styles. I wish they were a brighter color other than black because some days we "miss" them out in the field. 3 people looked for one yesterday with no luck finding it and today I went out and it finally appeared. For the price it is a great bag.

We have 1 of these (soon to have 3 more)
Shires Greedy Feeder Hay Net: 1" holes, low to mid price ($20-36), durable, super easy to fill
Mom went to a local feed/tack store and came across this bag. If the HayBurners bag and the SmartPak bag had a baby, it would be this bag. It has the small holes of the Hayburners and the non shrinking, easy to fill aspect of the SmartPak bag. This bag holds over half a bale of hay and has the same great drawstring found on the SmarkPak bag. It is still black, but the drawstring is blue. Mom would have bought more, but 1 was all that was left. They had sold 4 more earlier. After a day and night, the girls still had a flake left in the bag this morning. They do offer a smaller size for people who don't need to fill a bag so much. The materials and construction are durable. The funny thing is that when Mom told me the brand, I remembered Peggy talking about these bags early on. She said the holes sounded too big when she saw them. So I don't know if the 1" holes are a new development, but I will take it. I ordered more today and if it was not Christmas I would have gotten one for each horse. Definitely a great buy.

We have 1 of these and more material to make others
Homemade Fishnet Net: Mom bought fishnet in Florida and we made a little net for Winston over the summer. The size of the holes is similar to the Hayburners, very small. At first it took him forever to eat it, but over time he figured out a method and can clear it in a day. If you are handy this is a cost cutting way to get a great slow feed hay bag. Our little bag holds 3 flakes and serves as an "just in case you need a little more" bag. It is a beige material and is somewhat easier to find. We just use baling twine for a drawstring which is a little difficult. Eventually I would love to use some of the fishnet to fix the bottleneck bags we have. I just need the time to open them and add the fishnet. One word of warning, some fishnet has tears leaving bigger holes that may need repair.

Overall slow feed bags are the way to go. They give the horse a way to eat that best suits their digestive system. For the most part, we feed ours loose on the ground. The drawstrings are securely attached to the net so that the horses don't get tangled. I love to watch them nibble and flip them around. They move more than if it was tied to a fence. That can make it hard to find all the bags, but they all appear at some point. For 7 horses with no grass, we use about 4 bales a day. Each horse gets about 4 flakes a day more or less. They get a full bag in the morning and then Peggy checks them and will add more bags if needed. All the horses enjoy the bags, even the old guy.
So that is our experiences with different bags. Sometimes trial and error are the only way to go.

Life has been a bit crazy with work and the holidays. I am working hard to finish my Blogger Gift in time. Plus some recent developments have caused us to think long and hard about what Roscoe will be doing next year. More on that when it becomes final. Hopefully this weekend I can enjoy the drier conditions. Stay warm everyone!


  1. I love my mesh hay bags and will never go back to feeding without them! My girls only get 3 and 5lbs of hay once at night...even in the winter the grazing keeps them on the chubby side. Its such a small amount of hay to last the night I like knowing their hay bags keep them busy a lot longer! Thanks for the reviews

    1. Yes I agree, it makes me feel better too. I like seeing a bit of hay left in the morning, lets me know the have enough.

  2. Slow feeders are awesome. I use Nibblenets and Shire greedy feeders - totally agree with your reviews.

    Any issues with your horses' gums getting rubbed? My guy gets pretty exuberant if the hay is good! :D

  3. Not that I have seen. We worried about the hex bags because they are a rougher material, but nothing happened. It is amazing to see how they adapt to eating out of slow feeders.