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Hay slow feeders, anyone try the Helix feeder?

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  • Hay slow feeders, anyone try the Helix feeder?

    I know this has been talked about before, but it's 2019 and new products are out. I'm moving my new horse from a barn with a round bale to a barn that only feeds hay twice a day (the norm around here.)

    I would like to use a slow feeder in his stall (which has a large outdoor run and then he'll have daily turnout in a pasture.) I have a tough one hay net which I like, but I've worked in barns and know that nets can be a pain to deal with in a boarding situation.

    So I'm looking at this, which sounds similar to a porta grazer. It's mesh though so supposedly they can see when they still their heads in and you can place it on the floor or hang it. curious

    Portagrazers sound nice but I've heard some horses really don't like not being able to see out of them..

    There is also this but I'm unsure if the grate moves down? Seems like they wouldn't be able to get all the hay out so that wouldn't be very good.

    I could try to make one but am busy as is so hoping one of these will work okay.

  • #2
    I have both the High Country feeder and the Portagrazer. The high country feeder is larger and can accommodate enough for a full day. However, the heavy duty plastic does become more brittle in the cold and my pony has kicked a big hole in the side twice, render it unusable. Also there is concern about long term use of the metal grates affecting/wearing down the teeth. The grate does fall down as the hay is eaten. I still use the other one I have, though, as one horse just has not figured out how to use the Portagrazer. The Portagrazer seems more durable and works well for 2 of my horses. The rotating pan with the holes seems safer as far as wear and tear on teeth. It is also a little lighter in weight for handling. Horses are able to clean up the feed in both products. This past summer I transitioned to *really* small holed hay nets that were large enough to hold a days worth of hay. I like them better but they are a little more labor intensive. I use a doubled loop of baling twine around a pole or other substantial object then attach two carabiners to it. Then all I have to do is snap the closed up hay net to the carabiners, instead of messing with wrapping the net closing string around something, etc. I question how durable the collapsable feeder is. With the High Country feeder and hay nets, I do like that the horse does not have their nose in an enclosed space eating as it does with the PortaGrazer or probably the collapsable feeder.


    • #3
      I haven't used any portagrazer-style option, but I have used the High Country Plastics slow feeder savers in a barn I formerly boarded at and farm-sat when owner/manager traveled. I don't have many nice things to say about the HCP feeders. Some horses tended to eat from the same areas and leave a few high spots, which would keep the grate from moving down (which, as you suspect, means they can't reach most of the hay). I'd have to pull the grate up and redistribute the hay underneath for them a few times a day, which defeated the purpose. I also had a horse get a shoe stuck in the grate on my watch by pawing at it. Another would push it to the back of his in-and-out stall and box himself in by accidentally barricading the door with it. I found them to be a PITA (at least as annoying to fill as the webbing hay nets I prefer) that worked well only for a minority of horses.

      The mesh one is an interesting concept, but I expect that if I put it in my horse's stall it wouldn't be long before she'd kill it dead. Not sure how it would fare with a quieter horse.

      I use a slow feed net stretched across my barn's built-in hay feeder (which is also filled 2x/day -- seems to be the norm in a lot of parts of the mountain west). If my barn didn't have built-in feeders I'd consider using something like a hay hoop with a very small holed net attached to minimize hassle for staff while maximizing eating time.

      Good luck finding something that will work for you and the staff at the new barn.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks guys for the input. My horse is very smart so I need to consider that too as far as what and where I'll be putting it.

        I'm thinking I might try the mesh one. And if that doesn't work maybe I'll spring for the portagrazers.


        • #5
          I’m a big fan of the HayChix hay nets. You can hang the half-bale nets, and they are very easy to fill (you just drape them over a bale and cinch them up...This video shows the whole small bale net...half-bale works the same, just half the length: To make it even easier on the barn staff, you might buy a few of them and offer to fill them ahead of time for the week. I find that one half-bale net can last two or three nights (and I have them in the larger 2.5” holes, not the smaller holes).

          Just thought I’d mention these nets. Mine have endured a year of constant use very well.

          (They also have wall-mount options, too.)

          "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post
            I'm thinking I might try the mesh one. And if that doesn't work maybe I'll spring for the portagrazers.
            If you do, please let us know how you like it!!
            Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


            • #7
              The barn where I live uses the Helix ones. They seem to work fairly well. I haven’t actually handled them so not sure how they are to fill but they look fairly straightforward. Not sure how tough they are.

              A Wandering Albertan - NEW Africa travel blog!


              • #8
                I will add that I’ve heard great reviews of these ones. One barn I know is putting one in each stall. You can change the net out of you need smaller holes.

                k the link isn’t working but search tough 1 easy loading hay hoop with net.

                See related links to what you are looking for.
                Last edited by Polydor; Dec. 29, 2019, 10:16 PM. Reason: Link not working
                A Wandering Albertan - NEW Africa travel blog!


                • Original Poster

                  The only thing about the hay chix nets is he has shoes, so I would have to figure out how to keep him from getting a shoe caught.

                  And the hay nets with loops look awesome but I'm not allowed to bolt anything in his stall.

                  Libby2563 I will report back if I go that route!


                  • #10
                    I use the Hay Chix feeder with one horse and this one: with the other. I like them both...


                    • #11
                      I use the Tough One easy load wall feeder with small hole hay net that holds about 4 flakes- I have one from Hay Chix that must be 5 years old. Make sure you get the original feeder , not the one with hooks around the frame to hang the net. Quick and easy to fill, BO likes mine so much she bought them for other hay hoovers in the barn.
                      I have mine hung so bottom is about 30" from floor and secure bottom to ring on wall with clip.


                      • #12
                        I use this extended day hay net. I have modified mine slightly. I added a dowel rod with eye screws to one open side and wove a heavy duty rope through the other open side. The dowel side helps to keep the mouth of the net open when you are filling it. I also added 4 carabiners to the reinforced rope side. I use the carabiners to close the hanging bag full of hay by latching onto the net behind/under the dowel. I can fit 35-40 lbs of hay in a bag, which is enough to last one horse on a dry lot for 24+ hours.

                        Since you can’t bolt or screw into the stall, can you hang it from the stall front? Or do you have other points along the stall you can tie from?

                        I have used these daily for 1 year and they have held up really well.

                        This is not as easy as throwing 2 flakes into a stall, but I find it’s easier to fill than the standard hay net.


                        • #13
                          I am researching the same thing on exciting NYE...and I was about to order a Porta Grazer, until I stumbled upon this post. I'm intrigued by the Helix! I like how the insert spins around a bit in the Porta Grazer. I don't think my horse will mind his head being in the feeder, but the Helix is also $82 cheaper on RW, not to mention no oversized shipping. But I'm not finding as much info/reviews online for the Helix. Decisions, decisions.
                          Last edited by hokie98; Dec. 31, 2019, 09:50 PM.


                          • #14
                            So I bit the bullet and I ordered a Helix from RW last PM. Last spring while stalled at a horse show, I found my gelding's hay bag torn down the next AM and a sprung rear shoe. I assume he rolled and got caught. Since then I'm really shy about hay bags. My gelding is boarded and given 3-4 flakes of hay to get through the night (which seems to be fine calorie wise), but I am sure he's gobbling up that hay quickly then going through long stretches without. Considering the price, I figured the Helix would give us an idea if he/I liked this type of feeder, if it extends his eating, plus it's collapsible, so easier for travel. Mine should be here next Wed. I'll keep you posted.


                            • #15
                              I have a High Country Plastics Hay Saver, and I love it! Yes, sometimes with a stemmier bale, my guys will eat from one side and make the grate uneven. But, they are hay snobs because we have such good hay, and I just make them tough it out. They will pull through what they want and then pick through it.

                              I think it’s really easy to load. Just pull grate through, drop 6-8 flakes, and slide back through. I have also used a bale in a Tough-1 bale net UNDER the grate, and it’s worked great.

                              I have a TB gelding who is as sharp as a tack, and a super plucky part-Shetland stallion. The stallion has gnawed on it a bit, but no problems with the construction or the grate- or their teeth, for that matter.


                              • Original Poster

                                I was talking with the barn staff today and I mentioned porta grazers and she said they have had horses with bleeding lips and gums from it? I was shocked to hear it as I've never heard that about the porta grazer, just ones with metal grates.

                                She did say that I might be allowed to put a net with a hoop on the wall. Still considering the Helix feeder though.


                                • #17
                                  My horse has been using a PortaGrazer for over a year and it’s been fantastic. No issues with irritation/bleeding from mouth or gums. I’ve also been put off hay nets because my shod horse has gotten stuck. My biggest complaint with the PortaGrazer is how freaking heavy the corner feeder is. It’s too bulky to travel with most of the time - fascinated by the Helix feeder. It seems like it holds a similar amount of hay, if not more, without the added weight of the unit itself. If you end up trying it, please update with your review!


                                  • #18
                                    I've been thinking about these for my barn
                                    They look easy. I currently have 8 hanging slow feed bags. These would cut down on time to fill and therefore cut down on my labor costs.