How hay bags and slow feeders affect horses

Winter is almost here, and that means that the grass in your horse’s pasture is almost gone, if not completely depleted already.

Most horses require supplemental forage for at least part of the year, and for most, that comes in the form of hay. Hay can be fed in round bales, delivered in piles in the field, or placed in a stack of a few flakes in the corner of the stall.


Some horse owners opt to use hay feeders, nets, or bags to serve hay to equine diners. There are some obvious advantages, such as keeping hay off the ground where it can get dirty or mixed in with bedding. Some horses waste a lot of hay if they move around in their stalls and a feeder can prevent that. For horses on restricted diets or who are on stall rest, using a slow feeder can make a meal last longer, thereby reducing boredom.

Researchers in France looked at how using slow feeders and hay bags affected horses compared with feeding them hay loose on the ground. Their subjects were 38 horses observed in their own stalls.

Throughout the study, the horses were observed in three different feeding situations: hay on the ground (their usual feeding arrangement); hay bags hung on the stall wall; and hay in a slow feeder in the corner of the stall. All of the horses were observed in each of the three situations, administered in random order for three weeks at a time.


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