So it has been a month since the hay net has been being used, I figured you may want an update. Has it lasted? What do I think, positives? Negatives? Suggestions?
Overall, things are going really well! The net is holding up amazingly well. The net has not a single rip or tear in it, something I certainly didn't expect. The horses spend all day (and night) at the bale and no one has destroyed the net. That is huge in my book! The net also does a good job of keeping the mess to a minimum. There is still hay dropped onto the ground however the amount is only about a single fork full of hay, picked up twice a day. 2 fork fulls of hay a day on the ground is not a bad amount, I chuck it either on top of the round bale and the horses eat it or I chuck it between the bale and the wall and they eat it after the round bale is basically gone.
The positives? Net is holding up, no tears! Little waste. Very little daily effort. Reduced chore time, currently 25 minutes which includes scooping all poop. 10 minutes if not scooping. Horses (well, App is the only one I am concerned with) are maintaining their weight well.
The negatives? They poop and pee all around the bale/net which requires twice daily scooping to prevent it turning into mud. TWH is pushed off of the bale by the more aggressive appys. A lot. Mia is gaining too much weight, down to about a cup of grain 2x a day and is a very healthy 7-8 on the BCS scale. May need to muzzle her as winter progresses. The horses still finish a 4 foot by 5 foot round bale in 7-10 days. I really hoped it would last longer, right now I let them eat the bale to the ground, empty the stragglers from the net and give them another day to pick through the stuff they didn't want to eat before putting a new bale out. Because they can eat it or starve because I am a bully that way.
Suggestions? First, old clothesline worked really well for tying the net ends together into a circle. Old clothesline does NOT work well as a drawstring. I toss the end of the drawstring over a rafter to keep the net "up" and so I can pull the loose netting up off of the ground. 3 times the horses broke the drawstring before I finally replaced it with some boating rope (80lb break strength) I found on clearance at TSC for $2. Apparently clothesline has a break strength of 50lbs, likely less when it is old lol. So far the horses have not broken the new drawstring. A bale ring could really be helpful to keep the horses from pooping/peeing on the hay that is dropped. That is the biggest pain, throwing out hay they have dropped simply because they peed next to the bale (like, literally next to, they would have had to have splashed the damn hay and net) or pooped on it. The buffer of space would be nice.
That is it! We will see how the winter goes but I am really happy so far. For those who are curious, this is my routine. When the horses eat the bale down to empty and I have let them starve/eat the stuff on the ground, I rake up anything left over and throw it outside. I take down the temporary fence and use the big tractor to pull a bale out. I don't have a hay spear but have pallet forks, I pick up the bale from the bottom with the pallet forks. Set it on it's end. Walk around the bale while unwrapping the twine, there are 2 or 3 long pieces to find.. Throw the net on like a pillowcase. Use the tractor to push the bale over. Throw all loose hay back into the net, close up the drawstring. Use the tractor to pick up the netted bale by scooping it from the bottom. May take a couple of tries if the forks catch the net, back up and try again. (So far, the tractor has not ripped th net!) Drop netted bale on the super heavy duty pallet (it is a Quickrete pallet, given to us when we bought 20 bags of Quickrete for a project and we had Home Depot load it for us. This pallet is heavy, no joke!). Throw drawstring over the rafter and tie it to the wall with just enough tension to keep the net taut. Put temporary fence back up, let the raptors/horses back inside the arena. It takes about 30 minutes total. Honestly, I wish I had known how easy it could be and I would have done it a few years ago. I just have had this hatred of round bales for so long.
Anyone else using round bale hay nets? What do you think of them?