Do you feed your horses with round bales? I recently bought another round, hay feeder for our horses here at Elk River Guest Ranch. But before I did so, Scott found such a good (and surprising) article about feeders that I had to share it with you.
The University of Minnesota Extension office performed a study about different types of feeders "to determine hay waste, hay intake, horse weight change and economics of nine round-bale feeders and a no-feeder control during horse feeding." According to their results, I didn't buy the feeder that resulted in the least hay waste, but I made my decision in order to balance both the hay waste and cost of the feeder.
The most interesting results from the study?
1) Not using a feeder resulted in 57% hay waste.
2) Feeders that are most restrictive resulted in less hay waste (5-11%).
3) Feeders that are circular, such as the one above that we bought, results in more hay waste than a more covered/restrictive feeder, but the designs of different circular feeders don't make much difference (13-19%).
4) Feeder design doesn't affect horse intake.
5) Not using a feeder resulted in herd weight loss (due to hay spoilage from defecation, urination and trampling of hay).
So, before you put your hay out in the pasture or pen for your horses to eat, definitely do a little research to find a cost-effective option for keeping your horses healthy. As the study demonstrated, even the feeders that wasted the most hay (almost 33%) paid for themselves within 20 months. And, the best, most restrictive feeders contributed a 2-month payback--well worth the investment!
To read the study for yourself, follow THIS LINK.