Sunday, November 11, 2012

Doin' the "Net Thing"

I have been talking to the Boyfriend for at least a year now about building Milo a slow-feeder hay box. I wasnt happy with most of the designs available on the market so ended up drawing up a design of a box myself. Boyfriend is pretty darned handy with a hammer and nail so I figured I would ask him to make one for me. Well, I knew the cost of the material would be a little high, but aside from that, finding the right sized grid-wall paneling suitable to act as the "slow feeder" aspect of the box, was proving more difficult then I imagined. We scraped the idea for a while. But recently I had been really wanting one again, so I asked for Boyfriend to make me one as my Christmas present.

Well some time as passed again and I decided that irregardless on if we build our own design, I wanted a slow feed hay net. I was skeptical about them at first (why not just use two regular hay nets together?). But after seeing the success that Melissa and Grace have had with it, I decided that it would be a good compromise for my situation right now. And down the road, if I get a box, I can still use the slow feeder net for other uses.

Obviously, the benefits behind a slow feed is well documented. Aside from the physical benefits of allowing horses access to hay at a much slower and natural rate, I also figured this would be a great method for Milo offering him something to keep his busy mind occupied throughout the day. As well as a physical benefit, the slow feed option would be better for Milo mentally.

And what even got me thinking about going the slow feed route? Besides the mentioned above, I have honestly gotten really "over" the current BO feeding at such irregular and inconsistent times as he does. Morning feedings are anywhere between 8-10am, and evening feed ranges from 3-5 (mostly around the three o-clock range). Inconsistent feed scheduling as really gotten to me, not to mention the 16-some hour difference overnight between the two feedings. Plus, the BO really wastes a lot of my hay (how hard is it to cleaning pick up a few flakes from the bale without strewing broken flakes all over??) and Im also not sure he correctly feeds the amount that I request.

So, with the slow feed method, I can be in much more control over the hay part. As my new schedule allows me, I feed Milo almost every evening now. Which means I can set up his evening feed in the slow feed net (cleanly) and the BO only has to throw two flakes in the morning, hopefully cutting down on his waste. Plus, Milo can peacefully eat most of the night during the long spread of time.

Why was I initially adverse to the net? I didnt really like their design; most of the options I researched online included hanging them high (necessarily) and thereby requiring the horse to eat high, and I much prefer the natural "head down" stance for consumption. How would I combate this problem offering the hay a little lower then I had been seeing, but safe enough to keep Milo's hooves from getting caught in the netting? I decided to utilize his "hay corner" (which, btw, the BO fails to toss the hay into. Instead, opting for the lazy route and dumping it immediately into the doorway, and right into shavings. Um, theres a reason why I swept a CLEAN area in the feed corner...ugh) and feeder. I hung the slow net just over the feed bucket, so when it empties out the loose net can hang into the feeder. This location is low enough for me to be happy with Milo eating at, but clearly avoiding an open option for Milo's hooves. I like it so far.

And Milo took to it pretty easily. He quickly figured out how to spin the net, now making it a stall toy too!

BTW, did you notice how nicely Milo's cut is healing up? :)

I even came back after about four hours to check on how it was doing (I fed it in the morning so I could make sure he was eating from it, then feed evening hay if he didnt take to it), and it seemed great! Milo seemed to eat about a third of it, and found a way to pull enough out to get a small pile on the floor too. But after four hours I was pleased to see he hadnt completely drained it, so it is offering a slow feed for him.

Oh, and the photos were taken when I first put it up, when there was still morning hay on the ground. Milo chose the feeder! Probably because its new and fun looking, LOL!

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