Posts Tagged ‘Slow Feeder’

Freeze Dried

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Freeze-dried jeans portend cold overnight temps.

As the temps dip into the single digits tonight, I’d like to talk about slow feeders again.  Horses stay warm by the heat created during fermentation of forage in the cecum.  Calories from grain will provide energy and add fat to the horse, but giving forage helps to heat them.  Horses need small amounts of forage over long periods to keep the fermentation going.  To slow down the consumption of hay, I use slow feeders.

I showed a picture and video of the horses with a cheap, easily constructed slow feeder in May 2010.   Fudge has figured out how to strip the hay out of the small mesh hay bag pretty quickly, so I now use two small mesh hay bags over the muck bucket.  The resulting small holes mean the horses can only pull out one or two strands of hay at a time.  It trickle-feeds the horses through the cold night.  Remove the cord from both small-mesh hay bags.  Place one bag inside the other, and re-string one cord through both nets.  Add the cord loops and a two-ended snap.

Caveat:  Horses with shoes should not use this type of slow feeder, or small mesh hay nets near the ground.  The heel of the shoe will get caught in the net when they paw at the hay.

Snow Monsters

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

The blizzard of 2010 kept us busy clearing the driveway and cars this morning.  We are lucky to still have power after the high winds and heavy snow.  The horses are rarely stalled, but we put them in last night due to the possibility of branches coming down.  They were very happy to get out. 

Fudge (star) plays with Drifter (star and stripe) in the 28″ of snow.  Fudge has come a long way in his recuperation.  He is still not ride-able at more than a walk or trot.  We will continue to work on this rehab with ground exercises, and walking the trails.  It’s a very long way to the hunter pace this May.  I don’t know if Fudge will ever come back far enough to ride at a canter.  Time will tell.

The Mustang mare is obviously bored with the play of the geldings.  She is eating from one of the slow feeders.  It’s made from a small mesh hay net over a muck bucket.  It closes with a double ended dog snap.  These slow feeders are easy to fill and drag over the snow.


It has been one year since we purchased Fudge from Paula Derby of Lazy D Acres.  She has relocated to Ocala , FL.  She still obtains horses from the infamous New Holland Auction in Lancaster, PA. 

One of the things that stresses horses is trailering.  Long distance trailering suppresses the immune system.  When researchers want to infect horses with EPM, they use the trailering stress model.  Somehow, I can’t see the auction process, followed by long distance trailering as beneficial to the health of a horse.

Slow Food – Fast Health

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Horses evolved to eat full stem, sparse grasses, while on the move.  A few stems here, a few steps, a bite there, a 1/4 mile, then another few stems.  The grasses on the Steppe of Asia were dry, sparse, and mixed with broad-leaf plants.  The near constant walking aided the digestive tract.  The near constant, slow-intake grazing matched the slow, but steady output of gastric acid in the stomach.

Fast forward to domestication, and current stable practices.  Horses are often stationary in stalls 12 to 24 hours per day, with large amounts of food placed in the stall twice per day.  They eat the available food quickly, in large mouthfuls.  Then they wait… and wait… and get impatient for the next feeding.  Their stomachs are on fire with gastric acid, and no fiber to digest.

Field board often solves some of these problems, with the ability to move and steady intake of forage.  It can also create other health problems with unlimited access to lush grass.  The slow food movement has entered the equine world.

Slow Feeders involve limiting the rate at which the horse can consume the available hay.  Spreading the consumption out over time means fewer problems with stomach acid upset.  Feeding grass hay means fewer problems with insulin resistance and laminitis.  Feeding near the ground means less choke.

We recently built a slow feeder for Fudge.  It is based on a pallet design, and was built with left-over scraps from other projects.  Yes, we have more left-overs in the barn than we do in the ‘fridge.  We did have to purchase (2) 2″x6″x10′ boards to complete the project.  It took three hours to cut and screw the pieces together, and three hours to coat it with opaque stain.  (Note to wives:  the 3-hour trip to shop in Home Depot for 2×6′s is not included in the time estimate for the project.)

The design is a box the size of a pallet, 48″x40″, and 36″ high.  The top is a grid made from 2 layers of hog-panel.  The layers are adjusted to produce the smallest holes possible.  We have used wire ties to temporarily connect the hog-panels together, while we see how fast the horses can consume the hay.  After some observations, we will tack-weld the layers together.  This design will easily hold two square bales, and can hold three if the bales are inserted on their side.

The bottom line:  the horses consume the hay slower, they are entertained for longer during the day, and I am making fewer trips to the paddock to put out hay.  The downfall is that the horses stand in one place to consume the hay.  Stay tuned for the next farm improvement – Paddock Paradise, and it’s use for an EPM recovery.  I highly recommend the book, “Paddock Paradise,” by Jamie Jackson.

Best site for more information on Slow Feeders and Paddock Paradise:

Pallet base, small wood strips to limit bottom holes added later.

Pallet base, small wood strips to limit bottom holes added later.


2 sides on, (2) 2x6 uprights on each corner

2 sides on, (2) 2x6 uprights on each corner


uprights are screwed together and to pallet base

uprights are screwed together and to pallet base


On side, ready for stain.  2x4 top rail added for stability of sides.

On side, ready for stain. 2x4 top rail added for stability of sides.


Hog-panel grid, 2 layers adjusted for small holes.  Will connect with chain and snap inside box

Hog-panel grid, 2 layers adjusted for small holes. Will connect with chain and snap inside box


If I had to do this again, I would try to find a liquid goods wire pallet, or a liquid goods plastic pallet (both have sides), and modify it for use.  Make sure that any feeder has sides high enough to prevent the horses from getting their feet inside.  Make it heavy enough so they can’t tip it over, and strong enough to resist kicking.