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October 24, 2013


The optimal way to feed your horse – Part 1: “off the ground feeders”

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

There are numerous ways in which feed can be given to horses.  Most of these methods were thought of with care given to elimination of waste rather than optimal conditions for horse health.  While it cannot be denied that feed is expensive, the health of the horse consuming it must be taken into consideration as well.

Haynets: The advantage of haynets is that they slow down a horse’s rate of consumption as well as keeping the hay in a localized area and away from potential contaminants on the stall floor.  In addition, haynets make it easy to gauge exactly how much a horse is consuming and at what rate. On the downsides, haynets are made of strong nylon material or rope material that is able to withstand the pulling and tugging of horses extracting hay through their mesh.  If hung too low or allowed to remain in a stall when empty, haynets create an extreme risk to horses that might roll and catch a foot in them.  Haynets  must be hung with a break away tie and folded in half when they are hung up in order to attempt to keep them away from the floor.  As with any feeding arrangement that puts food far above the level of the floor, however, haynets that are properly hung tend to drop dust and particulate into the horse’s eyes and nose that can lead to other health concerns like heaves or respiratory infections.[1]

Hayracks: Hayracks are a very common method of delivering feed to horses above floor level.  While there is less waste hay and it is easier to ascertain whether a horse has been fed or not, use of hay racks has a certain number of unfortunate consequences.  Hayracks, just like haynets, force horses to consume hay in a non-traditional posture which allows dust and hay fibers to enter the nose and eyes, leading to irritation.  Hay rack feeding also tends to encourage abnormal chewing processes which can lead to hooks on the teeth and potentially improper neck muscle development.  Further, many hayracks are made of metal of some sort, or rebar.  Horses who are excitable in their stall or very tall horses can easily get tangled up in them and become severely injured.
Corner feeders: Corner feeders attempt to combine the concept of a hayrack and the idea of feeding at a more natural angle.  Usually made of wood, these feeders tend to be built into the corner of the stall.  Hay delivered this way is consumed at a more natural angle and without the risk of respiratory infection.  However, just as with hayracks that are located on stall walls, horses are often able to trap a foot or leg in the feeder while rolling.  Also, feeders made of wood are very hard to keep clean and can be locations which breed microorganisms and mildew.

If you feel your horse is lacking nutrition or not getting the most from your feed program, you might want to think about Horse Hair Analysis®.  HHA, part of DePaolo Equine Concepts’ holistic equine health care approach, is a cutting edge process for evaluating the cause of puzzling health problems and horse nutrition deficiencies, culminating with a customized horse supplement.

DePaolo Equine Concepts is passionate about our equine health care products — we offer the best horse joint supplements, digestive aides for horse ulcers, comprehensive equine vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as nutraceutical supplements for horses with Endocrine, Neurologic and Mental issues.

**Next week we will discuss ground and pasture feeding. Or for more on equine nutrition, please visit the health library on the DePaolo Equine Concepts website.

[1] Paula Sainthouse. Should I give my horse haynets? Oct 17,2009,

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Apr 20 2014

    Good way to feed your horse!


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