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How can I feed a hay-less horse slowly?

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  • How can I feed a hay-less horse slowly?

    Horse can't eat hay, and though he gets fed multiple times a day, he INHALES his food and then is very bored afterwards.

    Any ideas how to get a horse to eat soaked hay cubes slowly? (Rocks in the bucket don't work, only slows him down by about 10 minutes).

    Or has anyone found a way to feed chopped hay and make it hard for a horse to eat so it takes them a few hours to eat it? Would a hay net work or would it just fall back out? Could he grab it too easy?

    I need suggestions on how to keep my hay-less horse occupied all day as some nasty habits have been forming. Cubes are what he eats now, though I am starting to think I may be able to feed him chopped hay providing he can't inhale it in an hour.

    Really looking for a multi-hour solution for the super food-motivated horse. To make it tougher, it has to be something a boarding barn would be willing to do.

    He does get ridden 6 days a week, and just starting now a few days of being ridden 2x, 30 mins to an hour per ride. Doesn't do anything to make him less bored as soon as I put him back in the turnout.

    No grass turnouts - WISH I lived somewhere where that was an option so all my problems could be solved.

    Please help COTH - I know you guys all must have some super ideas that I can try!

  • #2
    You can always add extra water to the cubes and soak them longer. More volume that way....takes longer.

    I have a slow feeder for mash in the works. It survived the "Destruction Dan" test, but involves some labor. Five Horses and I have been trying to come up with a timed mash delivery system.

    A double netted small hole bag may work on chopped forage. You would just have to try.

    How about a Noze It or Amazing Grace for dry cubes? He could only get to 1 at a time so choke is not such an issue?

    Other thoughts, freeze the soaked cubes in a 5 gal bucket and hang in a hay net. He'd only be able to get to the drippings/ thawed soaked cubes that way.

    Finally consider some SBH pellets. They really seem to help a horse to feel full. My easiest keeper gets about 1.5lbs a day and walks away satisified, takes a drink and than a nap. He gets crabby otherwise.

    Comment


    • #3
      http://www.jeffersequine.com/pre-ven...qu/cp/0040139/

      Comment


      • #4
        Funny you should ask - I am dealing with the same thing and am experimenting with ways to SF ("slow feed").

        My horse is on a dry lot. Diet of soaked cubes for years. Switched to Chaffhaye this past summer - and when I realized he was finishing his two meals of the day at warp speed - I knew I had to come up with something.

        Chaffhaye is chopped, moist, alfalfa in a bag. How to SF that?

        I used small bottles left loose in a bucket to see what he would do.
        Bottles of course ended up in the dirt.

        So this must be done with a container (jug) tied in a container that cannot be tipped over/leg caught in etc.

        I have experimented with two plastic jugs.
        A cat litter jug and a tea jug. The cat litter jug held 16 lbs of litter. Good size hole to make loading easier. Handle, unfortunately, - it appears - is not on the best spot for using as a SF - ie on top by the hole. And the plastic a bit too brittle.

        The other jug is a gallon of Arnold Palmer or Arizona tea. Smaller hole, handle on side, and better plastic. A little more difficult to load but takes horse more time to get the goodies out. Just the one hole - no more added.

        I realized moist chopped hay by itself would not work. So I hit upon the combo of a can of sunflower seeds, a can of alfalfa pellets and a can of Chaffhaye in the jug - to shake and mix. The "hard" feed helps the CH come out and the CH prevents the hard feed from just pouring out all at once. Plus I think the moist chaff absorbs the pellet dust.

        Horse still gets his usual tub of his (heretofore) favorite loose Chaffhaye.

        So after explaining all to BO and BM we were ready to start.

        Mounted a plastic hay feeder/rack thing on the fence,
        Dog collar with buckle wrapped around hay rack bar and through jug handle.
        Cat litter jug of goodies. Horse was at first suspicious of the hay rack feeder.

        Anyway - arrived at the barn yesterday and decided to drive by horse's paddock to see what he was doing. When I saw what he was doing it was like "WTH"?

        Parked and raced to his paddock. The litter jug was barely recognizable.
        Instead of round edges - it looked like all the air had been sucked out of it. All sides flat and concave. Somehow my timid, mild mannered horse had figured out how to pick the jug up at the new botton edge with his teeth - lift up the jug - and let it drop (bang, rather) into the feeder bottom.

        Then friend and I realized that the dropping jug action had jarred loose the screws/bolts of the feeder fence mounts. So we had to use baling twine to secure the feeder back to the fence. Horse had his loose CH in his tub while we were repairing his new buffet contraption. We also had the jug of goodies - so he was right on top of us trying to get at the jug - ignoring the tub of CH.

        Finally we got the feeder safely secured and the jug safely secured/tied in it.
        Horsey was then back in action - having a grand time getting the feed out and eating it.

        Drove by his paddock on the way out and "bam" over and over. Horsey working his new feeder toy.

        So tying to the rack will not work. Next plan is to remove the rack and put two holes in the bottom of the feeder. Use doubled baling twine to make a loop (think suitcase handle) and tied off underneath. The dog collar then looped through that loop then through the jug handle - securing the jug but hopefully removing the "freefall" action of the tethered jug. Hoping my horse will just nose the tea jug around (litter jug to be retired) and be able to "upend" it to get the goodies out.

        I might have to substitute a girth extender strap with buckle (glad I saved that never used thing for 25 years) to get correct length so jug cannot be flipped out of the feeder and be left to hang helplessly. Will see. Stay tuned.

        (Believe it or not I left out many details of what worked and so far did not work).

        Comment


        • #5
          will chopped hay work in a nibble net??? Maybe just feed the non0tastiest chopped hay (i.e. grass forage) so he is not so voracious.
          Appy Trails,
          Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
          member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm glad to see that grayarabs weighed in, but you might also find her recent brainstorming thread on that topic useful:
            http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=366942

            If you're willing to feed the cubes unsoaked, there are a lot of ideas here as well:
            http://paddockparadise.wetpaint.com/...ube+Dispensers

            Also, I doubt you're ready to make this big of an investment or that a boarding barn would install it, but there are automatic horse feeders that can dispense food on a timer. For example:
            http://www.profeeder.com/
            Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              grayarabs - WOW! Are you posting pictures of your attempts anywhere? Would love a visual. Sounds like your actually on your way to inventing something while your solving this issue for your own horse.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I emailed the nibble net folks, they were great and got right back to me. She said I could use the 1.25" bag, but it would have to be secured to the ground so he couldn't pick it up and shake it.

                I was then wondering about a small hole hay net (cheaper) double bagged? I could then create some kind of box for it so my barn can just drop the feed in the top, or something like that. I do like woodworking.

                I'm actually not totally sure he can eat chopped hay yet, for the last few years its been super soaked cubes and grain only. this all stemmed from a particularly nasty case of RDC. I think at this point perhaps dry chopped hay would be ok - but I need to have a big discussion with my vet first about it. In the meantime, I'm brainstorming too. Just my last ditch efforts before I have to go and give away my dreamhorse to someone who has grass and will never love him as much as I do.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Punkey - I am guessing that your horse choked on hay?

                  Is he a fast, frantic, bolting food type of eater?

                  I don't know if slow feed contraptions would make a horse more excited and more prone to choke. That is a concern of mine with the large alfalfa pellets I have been using. What I have observed with my horse is that different amounts come out of the jugs when he is "working" them.
                  The pellets/seeds tend to spread around the bottom of the feeder.
                  The bottom of the feeder is more than twice the size of the bottom of regular flat backed hanging bucket.
                  Anyway, horsey "lips" around and seems to pick up mostly one pellet at a time - of course quickly scrounging around for more. I guess using his tongue as well - dunno - all I know is that the pellets seem to be moist when he is messing with them. He is producing more saliva?

                  Anyway - another idea I have been hatching if the jug plan does not work - is trying to adapt the feeder to a type of gravity feeder. The feeder is one of those that seems to have been made from a plastic barrel - with hay racks mounted. Folks put the hay in the rack and pour the grain/pellets in the bottom. I think you know what I am describing.

                  So I was thinking to try using the feeder (with rack still in place) but securing a restrictor plate to the back side of the rack. To have someone cut a plastic plate (same kind of plastic used for the barrel feeder), round the edges and drill holes and attach the plate to the back side of the rack.
                  Leaving a gap of an inch or two at the bottom. Load the horse's feed from the top and see if it would all slowly work itself down to the bottom where horse's access is restricted only to what he can reach at the bottom gap.
                  I could see this maybe working with hay, chaffhaye, pellets, seeds etc. The hay and pellets again working with each other - the hay preventing the pellets from all just sliding down and rolling into the feeder base. And the hay would be pulled/nibbled at from the bottom gap.

                  Perhaps a little "play" in how tightly the plate is attached to the rack - if it would be better if the horse could push on the plate to "activate" it better. Or maybe not necessary.

                  Maybe this could work for soaked cubes - but would require - as happens often with soaked food - frequent clean-ups.

                  I will not have the capability to try the restrictor plate in hay rack idea any time soon. Is someone else handy and game enough to try to fashion what I have described and see what happens?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have not seen the profeeder before in4jenny...thank you.
                    Unfortunately, it only works on pellets, as most feeders I have checked out.

                    My mare can only eat mash. Pellets I soak and then feed a pound at a time, every hour. Fortunately she is also on grass, so that helps.

                    I have been investigating auto feeders, and as Dtaylor said, she has been trying to 'make' one for me.

                    Anyone out there who can come up with an auto feeder that feeds mash, or in OP's case, soaked hay cubes?

                    I am lucky in that I feed her from 8am-10am, and then again from 5pm-10 pm and then she is on grass. This winter, it would be nice to have something to feed her automatically. Surely, there has to be some kind of system that could dispense a mash on a timer????
                    If anyone has any ideas, sure would like to hear them.

                    OP, good luck. I have the pre-vent feeder, which I don't use anymore. I don't think it is as great as they make it out to be, but it can slow a horse down by making them pick their feed out of different holes in the huge muck size feed tub.
                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I second the nibblenet idea. I feed my allergictohaybutconstantlystarving horse chopped forage in the 1.25" one. It slows him down...a little.
                      Originally posted by EquineImagined
                      My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        five - is your horse out in a paddock all to herself? large enough that you could put her mash in - say - five different buckets - placed at distance from each other - encouraging her to walk from bucket to bucket - investigating - and maybe slowing her down?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You may want to try something like this:

                          http://www.slowdownhayfeeder.com/content/view/1/

                          You could probably make your own with a piece of wood and a bucket/feeder. I had considered something like this for feeding forage. It's very pricey, but I would be tempted to try something similar.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I doubt a regular small hole hay net would slow the horse down especially with chopped forage. I use a double bagged small hole hay net and my three have figured those out now and that is with regular hay. What about trying a much smaller netting? Someone recently posted about their golf netting hay bags that they made, I thought that was interesting and when I have money may try it.
                            Missouri Fox Trotters-To ride one is to own one

                            Standardbreds, so much more then a harness racing horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow! That is seriously clever!

                              I was going to suggest an automatic feeder. I have one. You can feed up to 24 times a day. (Obviously, just a tiny bit at a time.) But it's not going to work for cubes or soaked food; just grain or pellets.

                              But if you went with a complete feed (including fiber), and you had the pellets dropped into that clever bucket above, you might be able to make it work.
                              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by grayarabs View Post
                                five - is your horse out in a paddock all to herself? large enough that you could put her mash in - say - five different buckets - placed at distance from each other - encouraging her to walk from bucket to bucket - investigating - and maybe slowing her down?
                                I do not think such distribution of buckets would help fivehorses unique situation. Her mare needs something like 1lb of feed (in a fiber mash) hourly due to her extreme health issues.

                                A timed mash delivery system is really the only means for her to get some sleep this winter.

                                fivehorses, I have midterms in a week. Then... wow, a whole week of freedom before it is back to brain drain. Will get my brain back to work on this mash feeder....and maybe ride one or 2 of my horses again. It will be like a vacation!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Perhaps this is a stupid question, but would FREEZING a portion of the soaked cubes be a way to extend eating time?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    OK - I don't recall the health issues of 5h's horse.

                                    One of my ideas - sounds daft - but might work for mash food.

                                    A variation on what I was thinking about trying with the moist Chaffhaye.

                                    I started a thread about a week ago about a feeder made from a 55 gallon plastic barrel. The link showed the barrel mounted horizontally.

                                    I wondered if mounted vertically if a large sturdy jug could be hung from the inside top and jug handle affixed to the back of the barrel - with some "play" so the jug could be moved (nosed/butted) by the horse - and feed slowly come out the hole in the bottom.

                                    After watching my horse with his jug tied to the (half barrel open top) rack - I think he could have figured out how to "work" the jug hanging to jostle even wet feed out.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Thanks all and apology to Punkey for hijacking this thread, but soaked hay cubes and soaked mash are of the same kind of consistency and an auto feeder that dispenses feed would work for both.

                                      In my case, my mare had choke issues, which were really a disguise for refluxing due to a gastric impaction. Due to the years(and yes, she was at a clinic with multiple board certified vets who totally missed this), she developed a diverticulum in her esphogus.

                                      Her final diagnosis, thank you very much to UGA and the excellent vets there, was delayed gastric emptying. Her pyloric spincter is smaller and does not allow feed to leave as quickly as a normal horse.

                                      So, the best thing for this horse is to be fed a pound of feed every hour. She absolutely cannot eat hay or cubes or anything other than a mash and she should not even be on grass, but quality of life is also important. I just make sure it is always cut short.

                                      During the warmer months, basically, I feed her a few pounds in the morning, and then feed her from 5pm - 10 pm. Her weight is excellent.
                                      In winter, this will be tougher, since I do not live at the farm, and also less grass, thus more mash.

                                      Soooo, somewhat similar situations as far as feed goes with Punkey. Some kind of auto feeder which would dispense feed every few hours. I'd even be happy with one feed to give me a break.

                                      The putting buckets around the field would not work...since this mare would just eat as much as she could, and does not know her stomach is full, and then refluxes and chokes. In other words, she is a pig!

                                      Dtaylor or anyone having any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I would really like to see a model made, and then either market them or whatever. All the auto feeders I have seen are for pellets only.

                                      I think as we keep our horses longer, and also have better diagnostics, more horses will need to be on soaked hay cubes, mashes, etc. Plus, it is so much better to have horses eat ongoing, rather than all at once, but ya'll know that.

                                      Another issue is spoilage, and keeping the mash warm or body temp. Opposite issues really. Making up feed, I find it stays good for about 6-8 hours max in temps 70's. In warmer temp, less time. My mare also needs to have her feed at lukewarm temps...she gets an upset stomach and colics on cold mash. So, I am thinking a light bulb in the contraption would help keep it warm.
                                      This mare has no idea how lucky she is, but she is my heart horse.
                                      save lives...spay/neuter/geld

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                        Perhaps this is a stupid question, but would FREEZING a portion of the soaked cubes be a way to extend eating time?
                                        The continuous feed, very slow mash system I make that past the Destruction Dan test uses exactly that. Frozen mash. It thaws and oozes all day out a basket cage at the bottom. They never get near the frozen mash. The mash that flows to their lips is cool but not cold. So no worries about mash going bad over many hours and fermenting.

                                        The down side is here in the US during winter it's of no use....does not thaw/flow. Having a few mash dehydration/clogging issues with the valves I have been using so far. But I have a new valve in mind, simple, and easy. Add a stepper motor and a timer and I hope that solves this issue.

                                        But 1st my midterms.....grurrr. Then I can play with the new idea after that.

                                        Comment

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