How can I reduce the amount of hay that is wasted?
This is not such an easy answer, as many horses grind their hay into the ground or shavings while eating, and still seem to be starving. Reducing their hay allotment for the day can often lead to just as much wasted hay, just because of they way in which horses eat. So, you may need to get creative to keep your hay costs down.
Consider the following factors when you are coming up with a way to reduce wasted hay:
- Where does your horse eat? Does your horse “move” some of his hay to eat? He may be doing this to get his hay closer to a water source, some shade, or to another corner that’s closer to a buddy (or further from an arch nemesis). If your horse is a messy dunker in his water, consider setting up a separate bucket for his hay dunking or feed wet hay to begin with.
This modified hay tub help keep horses from flicking hay out, and it holds a hay net in the tub for an outdoor, homemade slow feeder. Not good for horses that stand in their feed bins.
- What’s UNDER his hay? Is he fed on the ground outside, or in the corner of a stall atop shavings? Consider feeding him from a large bin if he lives outside, or even a mat that can remain *mostly* free of sand and dirt. This is better for his belly anyway, and the little wasted remains of hay are easy to eat. In a stall, it may not be so feasible to use a big tub in a box stall, but you could use a hay net or other slow feeder suited for a stall. If nothing else, keep a corner swept clean to the mat below the shavings as a spot for hay.
- Consult an Equine Nutritionist to be sure the amount of hay is appropriate for your horse. Knowing how to properly weigh your horse is critical to this process, too!
So much waste when fed on the ground! And so much sand that could be ingested...
- Consider your feeding options. Does your horse need a different type of hay? If he already eats two types (say timothy and bermuda), you may notice that he prefers one over the other. Can you replace part of his long stem hay with a hay pellet or hay cube?
- Consider the hay source. High quality hay is usually delicious hay! If you have questionable deliveries, work with your broker to source other options. If you live in the vicinity of other horse farms, you may be able to pool your buying power to get gigantic loads of high quality hay into your area.
Hay nets are super for practically eliminating wasted hay!
How do you work to reduce wasted hay on your farm?