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I have been experimenting with Cookies hay arrangement. I bought 2 hay nets & re-tied them so they would be slow feeders. She can blaze through her meal in about 15-30 minutes when I put it all in her manger. So I needed a way to slow her down a little bit & the hay nets did the trick. So, I put 1/2 of her hay in 3 nets & the other 1/2 in her manger. I did this for about a week to see how much waste there would be & if it would be better for her. I hung the hay nets each in a different area so she would have to walk to get to them. Plus, having it in a hay net helps to keep it off the ground & less chance of her eating a bunch of sand/dirt. I then made little notes each day of her attitude & how much hay was wasted. By the end of one week, she was not a happy camper. Taking into consideration the weather on a few days was bad with wind & rain which she gets spooky & irritable in. 

The week before, she had several visitors each day over about 4-5 days. She had plenty of carrots, apples & pecans that week. lol She looked forward to her visitors by standing next to the fence & wait. 

This week, we had rain 2 days & the rest has been fairly decent, so I spread her hay around the paddock in small piles. She has a better attitude, though she hasn't been cleaning up some of the hay. A little bit of waste is to be expected & if I'm not out there when she believes I should be to feed her on the dot, she does go around & pick up whatever was left. I have noticed also that she drinks better when "grazing" this way. 

She still gets her wetted alfalfa & flax also at later times. Usually around 2-3 pm & again at 9-10pm. 

Today, I placed several small piles all around & hung up a slow feed hay net. When I go out to give her the second alfalfa & flax, it will give me an idea of how well she likes that arrangement. The only reason I am working in the hay nets is to slow her eating down a little so that she is able to eat for a longer period. Grazing has slowed her down some, but not nearly as much as I would like. 

I also would like to note here (mostly for my records) that she is now up to aproximately 1120lbs -Tape weighed-. When she first came home in November, she was just under 1000. She was ribby & hippy & now has a nice layer of muscle & fat. She's not mutton withered, but doesn't have a flat backbone. It's just about in the middle of the 2. Her mane has also grown about 2-3".  

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  1. love4equine
    Be careful, if this causes Cookie to get stressed it can cause her to colic. Changes to what you feed and how should always be small and stretched out over a period of time. I wish I could find a way to slow down all of mine too. They are all a little fat, hay is hard to find, and hay is very expensive. It would be nice if I could figure out a way to slow them down on the round bale (square bales here are too expensive and just not practical). Good luck and great post.
    1. Rene Wright
      Rene Wright
      Yes, I have taken all of this into consideration. I don't change the type, only the areas in which I feed. The hay nets have helped to slow her down & eat much longer. The amount is virtually the same as when I was feeding her in the manger. I have heard of hay nets for round bales to slow them down. I don't know how expensive they are, but if you can find an old fishermans net, you'll have won at least 1/2 the battle. Re-tying it to the size holes you need might be quite the challenge, but I'm sure it's possible. Cookie gets fed from a round bale also, only I pull off what I need that way the bale stays fresh & dry. I can fit one feeding into a hay net. I don't know how many horses you have, but that may be a consideration. Tractor supply has them for around $5.00 & they can be re-tied to make smaller holes. It also helps to save waste. Cookie gets 2 full hay nets at breakfast, 1/2 of one at lunch, 2 at dinner, then she gets 1 lb of wetted alfalfa cubes & 1 full hay net. If I know ahead of time it's going to be cold ( 30* or below) at night, I'll add an extra lb of alfalfa cubes to give her more fiber & water. I don't know if this would be practical or not for you, but if you could separate your horses during meal times that would help as you could feed them by hay nets rather than free feeding. I found that Cookie will go through a round bale by herself in no time at all & I can't afford to buy that much hay per month, plus she would be foundered in less than 2 months if I let her free feed. lol.

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