The most natural environment for a horse is where he can roam the field and graze on small, frequent meals of forage. That is not always possible, especially in the winter. Slow-feeder hay nets mimic grazing behavior by reducing the amount he eats at once. When kept full, the nets provide access to forage throughout the day.
Slow-feeder hay nets, not the same as regular hay nets, have small openings of 1 to 2 inches wide. The smaller openings reduce the speed of consumption. However, holes that are too small may lead to frustration. Pictured above, the Freedom Feeder Extended Day by Kensington comes in three sizes 1, 1.5, and 2 inches wide. The 1 inch openings are great for smaller animals or those that are insulin resistant. The 1.5 inch stimulates grazing for a normal size horse. And the 2 inch is for large, aggressive eaters.
The use of slow feeding products helps to reduce stress. Horses that experience forage restriction may have mealtime anxiety, weave or pace, and have other bad vices. Since the digestive system is working at its intended pace with the nets, horses are less likely to develop ulcers or colic. In addition to being healthier and more natural, slow-feeders reduce hay waste. This ultimately helps to cut hay costs.
These handy nets can be used outside or in stalls. Some hold bales of hay, while others can fit around a round bale. The most important thing is to make sure your horse is happy and healthy throughout the day. Maybe your horse would be better off with a slow-feeder hay net.