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To round bale or not to round bale?

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  • To round bale or not to round bale?

    That is the question!

    I am tired of trudging around to put out hay for my 4 horses every morning before work. I don't mind doing it at night, but would love to be able to just feed them and turn them out in the morning.

    Would getting a round bale make sense for 4 horses who are only out to eat it during the day? We have one pasture saved for the second half of winter that has only minimal grass in it. I don't want to turn the horses out in it until at least the end of January though.

    Would they just waste the round bale? Will they eat it fast enough, or will it go bad? I picture my 2 older horses running the other two off and keeping them from eating it. They shuffle each other around quite a bit when I set out flakes around the pasture. Does this generally happen with a round bale, or do they sort of learn to all peacefully share around the bale? Will they trash the pasture around the round bale? So many questions!

    Has anyone used this? http://barns2go.com/product_info.php...a8f515a4650a49

    I found it on the majical anti-freeze hose site. Any other suggestions? If I do get a round bale, I don't want to get a metal ring thing.

    Thanks in advance! It doesn't seem like it should be such a big decision...but it sure as heck feels like one!
    ....Leo\'s Mom.....

  • #2
    I live in Maine and I do round bales. Mine are 800 lb each and I'm currently feeding three off of it. Since the summer I've been peeling and taking off just enough for each meal. We have so much mud here that its only practical to put a bale this large out for so few horses during the deep freeze and we are not quite there yet as far as temperature. Its a lot of work to peel and carry hay... more work than small square bales... but its worth it to me in the hay savings.

    When it gets cold enough I'll put the Chinch Chix net over the whole bale and put it out in the pasture. I really like the net when its very, very dry in the summer (August and Sept) or the deep freeze of winter (Jan-March). Any other time its a pain in the you-know what. Horses will pancake the roundbale. Then walk and poop on it, driving it into our deep clay mud. Then I get the not so enjoyable task of hand yanking 300-400 lbs of hay out of the net so I can set out a new one. After a year of doing that I just went to hand peeling each meal from the roundbale.

    Yes, I had a big bale buddy. Worked quite nicely in the winter. But, I ordered the small 400lb bale size and then found a source for 800 lb bales. I have heard that they are not good in warm weather as moisture builds and then you get moldy hay.

    I've also used the metal round bale feeders. I purchased one from tractor supply. It was so poorly made that two of my horses got very deep lacerations on their heads from it. My mule got her head caught in it and was stuck struggling for hours until neighbor and I could get her free. I don't recommend them.

    So, that's my experience with round bales. I like them, even if I do have to peel them for most of the year. I like Chinch Chix nets but not for year round. I had good luck with the Big Bale Buddy. I don't like round bale feeders from tractor supply.
    Last edited by NEWT; Dec. 17, 2012, 09:19 PM. Reason: spelling errors


    • Original Poster

      Thank you for the reply. I am really not interested in the peel and feed method. I don't have much time to feed in the morning, so although this method would save money, it would not save my sanity!

      I only plan on using the round bale in the winter, so the big bale buddy worked well in the winter?

      Did you find that all of your horses were able to eat the round bale? Or did one or two fatties mainly take over?
      ....Leo\'s Mom.....


      • #4
        We use round bales in the winter because its just easier on everyone involved. The horses are happier when locked on a smaller area.

        We put out 3 round bales for 8 horses (half are Arabs, 3 QHs and a Shire) and they go through them in about two weeks. The hay guy drops 5-6 off at a time and we put out 2-3 at a time.

        Ours don't really wind up wasting a whole lot. Maybe one square bale worth of hay from each round bale. They're all pretty good about cleaning it all up and not trampling it into the mud. We don't have them in anything special. Sometimes one or two of them get a bale buddy, but usually they just get shoved out into the highest part of muddy lot naked.


        • #5
          If you buy a Big Bale Buddy you better buy bales from the same supplier every time. It is very easy to end up with bales bigger than you can fit into the Bale Buddy. It's almost impossible to put the bag on if you're working alone.

          I prefer the Cinch Chix net. It's big enough for any size RB. You MUST use a ring feeder or some sort of feeder to keep their feet out of it.


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by katarine View Post
            You MUST use a ring feeder or some sort of feeder to keep their feet out of it.
            Really? Is this just with the net type covers? I'd really rather not get a ring, I have heard many horror stories and don't want to invest in one when I don't know if I'll need to get a round bale every winter....
            ....Leo\'s Mom.....


            • #7
              Well, I think they'll step on, mash down, scratch their butts on, and walk down the edges of the bag. I just suspect they'll trash it and if they're shod, they may well tear it up. I'll sell you my BBB if you wanna try it out with a used one, Lord knows I don't need it! it's just too small for the bales I'm getting now and too much work (IMO) for one person to wrestle onto a bale.


              • #8
                This is my setup:


                Round bale, cinch chix net, homemade half wall built into the shelter. The black mare in the background is the one always getting beat up. This set up allows her to eat in peace. That little half wall extension on the right side keeps the corner horse from darting around and attacking too quickly. This setup actually works really well now.

                I will say with the bale buddy you will have four horses eating out of a small hole on top = recipe for disaster if they don't play nice. Plus, when moisture gets in, you will have mold. Go with the cinch chix and a feeder - or, put out two round bales at least 50 feet away from each other. Four horses should go through two round bales in about a month. Maybe 6 weeks if they aren't out 24/7. It is definitely much easier.

                I have no waste with my setup (see photo). Expect about 20% waste if you don't use any type of net or feeder. IME, it still works out cheaper to use round bales even with the waste. But then again, we rarely have mud, so not sure how that would change the waste situation.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Leo86 View Post
                  Really? Is this just with the net type covers? I'd really rather not get a ring, I have heard many horror stories and don't want to invest in one when I don't know if I'll need to get a round bale every winter....
                  If you get a good quality ring made for HORSES, not CATTLE, then they tend to work quite well. They are very popular in my area. Only accidents I know of are old, rusty feeders or horses eating from cattle feeders.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by katarine View Post
                    I prefer the Cinch Chix net. It's big enough for any size RB. You MUST use a ring feeder or some sort of feeder to keep their feet out of it.
                    My barefoot guys climb all over their Cinch-Chix netted round bale, and we have no trouble. I think it's the shoe-net combo that is a problem.
                    I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                    • #11
                      Until they get tangled in the heavy gauge ski rope that serves to cinch it up. I have one that would find a way to truss himself up in it


                      • #12
                        I have one that is made for horses, imagine a crown type look with smooth edges. Never had an issue. I am careful once the hay gets low, though.
                        Come to the dark side, we have cookies


                        • #13
                          My set up is similar to Meadow36's. Primitive but cheap to make.





                          • #14
                            Why not just get small square bale feeders (ie jumbo nibble nets, etc) and set out 24 hours worth of hay in the evening feed? Same exact principal as setting out a round, except its consumed in 24 hours so no worry about molding. You can get two or three medium sized and spread them out each night so those low on the pecking order don't get chased off.

                            I've been successfully feeding my horses once per 24 hours for almost 5 years now. They are easy keepers and usually its a matter of getting them to eat less, but its worked out very well for us.

                            From my limited experience, the success of round really depends on the location and soil type and how fastidious the horses on it are. I've seen well mannered herds eat every last scrap when the round was placed in a dry, well-draining location. I've also seen piggy horses trash a bale within 48 hours, sleep, poop, pee in it, trample it into kee-deep muck and the owner has to clear the mess with a FEL.
                            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                            • #15
                              Hay Huts are a great solution:



                              • #16
                                Bullies will do a pretty good job running less dominant horses off a single feed source, so yes, if you have that dynamic, you could end up with hayless horses.

                                Yes, the pasture right around the round bale will be absolutely trashed - 4000lb+ of horses are spending the majority of a day standing and pooping on a small section or earth Over time, their feet will tell that tale too.

                                Buck has a great idea - put out enough hay for at least 20 hours at night. That will still allow you to move the hay around, even if you can't put it out in as many different spots as you do now.
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                                • #17
                                  I feed my two horses round bales...I used the Big Bale Buddy alone for the last 2 years. Success with some bales, not so much with others...I don't know if it's stretched or my bales are just different sizes (get them from the same guy all the time though). I just got a round bale net (similar to the cinch net) and it's only been out in the paddock with a new bale for 4 days so far- but there is NOTHING on the ground around the bale- where before, even with the BBB, there'd be a ring of fresh hay around the bottom of the bale, flung on the ground, waiting to be wasted. The next round bale, I'm putting the net on and then using the Bale buddy, I think that's going to be a winning combo. It is SOOOO much easier to not worry about their hay, especially now that it's colder- I like knowing they always have it in front of them. Makes it way easier when daughter or husband has to feed them also.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by katarine View Post
                                    Until they get tangled in the heavy gauge ski rope that serves to cinch it up. I have one that would find a way to truss himself up in it

                                    Katerine, do like I do: Twist the excess netting into a TIGHT twist and then roll it onto itself like a giant Hair Bun... then wrap the excess cinch line around it VERY tightly and tie it off.

                                    Leo: This is my version - Cinch Chix Net in a Red River Arena's Hay Cradle.
                                    Like you I was not keen on the typical horsie tombstone bale ring, but needed to find some way of getting the bale up off the ground/mud and not need a tractor to lift the bale in it. The Hay Cradle was the answer. See info & demo video here: http://www.redriverarenas.com/feeders.html

                                    It shipped in one flat box and with just 2 tools and 20 minutes, Mr. C'Mare and I had it together. It's lightweight to move, but very sturdyl. Going into Year Two with it and it's still in great shape.
                                    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                    • #19
                                      If you want to know how long one will last/will they poop in it/lay in it/trample it, just invest in 1 round bale and see how it goes before buying any hay feeders/nets/more hay bales.
                                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
                                        If you want to know how long one will last/will they poop in it/lay in it/trample it, just invest in 1 round bale and see how it goes before buying any hay feeders/nets/more hay bales.
                                        I would see if there was a way to borrow a net, bale buddy etc. Having a round sitting in the field with nothing to contain it won't give you an idea at all. My two will go thru a round in less than a week and waste half of it. I would never recommend a round all by itself.