When I moved to MI and I had to pay for hay, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was feeding exclusively in hay nets. And I have, exclusively. I have the 2" hole slow feed hay nets in stalls and I double bag for outside use so that they can eat even slower. Cause I am a bully that way lol. I use the cheaper nets (tough one, shires, etc) and usually buy them at trade shows for $6-9 per bag. I usually end up going through 2-4 bags a year as they get holes in them (thanks to my velociraptors) and I have to semi-regularly (few times a month) do "net surgery" where I have to fix/replace the drawstring or tie holes shut with baling twine until I deem the net deader than dead and replace it. I have done this for 5 winters now and it has worked well enough. In the dead of winter I can fill 3 bags with 16lbs of hay each and after 12 hours, the horses either still have just crumbs left or they have been without hay for only an hour or so and have barely a forkful of waste. That is really good IMO.
This winter I have this whole up-in-the-air about the move. Will I? Won't I? When will I? I didn't want to buy a full years worth of hay only to sell the property a week later and lose that money. I am not looking forward to taking care of the entire farm by myself through the winter either. If I didn't work full time, it wouldn't be any big deal but I work full time, take care of the 10 acre farm full time plus try to find time to ride, visit SO in PA, see friends, etc. I have a lot going on. One idea I had to reduce work was to try round bales.
Now, just to be clear, I hate round bales. I have hated round bales for a very long time. Why do I hate round bales? There is just so much waste. There is so much dust in the bales. You can't see when there is mold or when quality has degraded. Most are stored outside so the top few inches of the entire bale are already crap. Did I mention the waste? I have read that horses waste up to 50% of a round bale, I wouldn't be surprised! They tear it out of the bale, drop half of it, stand on it, pee on it, poop on it, use it as bedding and you watch your dollar bills be chucked into the dumpster. Ugh!
But I want to reduce work. I want to save time. I am willing to try anything. So I called around and found someone who has round bales and kept them inside. And would deliver a 4'x5' for $45. Okay, fine, I will try it out. I got 3 and made a note that I wanted to order a net. I looked up the cost of round bale nets, they are $150-$200. Eek! Perhaps a round bale wouldn't be so bad I said. I put a round bale at the end of my arena on a Wednesday. The horses KNEW it was for them as I was removing the string and I felt like someone opening the doors of WalMart on Black Friday, I would have to do my business and jump back FAST. The horses, well they were in HEAVEN. They certainly liked the hay and stood in front of it all day. That evening, I looked on in horror. The waste, omg. I threw the equivalent of at least 2 flakes of hay out every single feeding as they were covered in urine/poop. I raked the unsoiled hay that was left on the ground into a pile behind the bale so hopefully they would eat it later. The big round bale lasted my horses 9 days before it was eaten to the ground. Gone people. The farmer said a bale should last 2.5 weeks and they ate it in 9 days! Plus it was taking 15-20 mins per feeding just to clean up the mess of the hay and all 3 horses had a cough. This was not working.
I researched and did my homework. I found the cheapest 4x5 slow feed hay net was about $170. Well damn, that is out of my budget. So I started dong more research. Looking on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, wholesalers. There are some sellers who sell repurposed fishing net however they couldn't tell me the tensile strength and I knew my heathens would destroy the netting if it wasn't strong enough. I was not willing to take the chance on the $40 plus shipping for it to be destroyed within a week. I finally found a seller who sold bulk netting by the foot.
I learned you want a minimum of #30 net, #36 or #42 netting. These nets have a break strength of 300lbs, 350lbs and 400lbs, respectively. So strong enough for velociraptors.
|Net porn, all naked and on display|
|1.5 in holes, bale after 3 days of nonstop eating|
|Room for everyone!|
|See those sexy knots, hand tied by me personally|
|Easily able to obtain hay through the net|
|Nom nom nom|