If your horse is kept out, either part-time or full-time, you will be familiar with feeding hay in the field over the long winter months.
When feeding piles of hay on the ground, a lot can be wasted when it soaks into the muddy field and then gets damp or rained on. There is also a risk of the hay becoming mouldy causing possible respiratory issues from the spores, should your horse eat it.
Feeding hay in nets in the open field is less wasteful but it won’t stop the rain making it soggy and the hay that falls onto the ground surrounding the net will probably ruin. Some horses are prone to pawing at the nets which runs the risk of them getting their feet stuck.
As horses are naturally ground feeders, it is thought that the constant pulling action on the head and neck of horses eating from haynets can give rise to physical problems. If you are able to place hay at ground level, it will mimic their natural grazing behaviour and allow them to extend their neck and back correctly. It also helps them to chew each mouthful more thoroughly, allowing them to absorb a higher level of nutrients from their food.*
A solution to these problems is to invest in a mobile field shelter. This will keep the hay dry and shelter your horse at the same time. If you have two horses or more and they get on together this can work well.
How do you manage when you have horses that don’t always get on?
In the event of having two or more horses that are prone to disagreement overfeeding, it is important they aren’t confined as you don’t want them getting pinned into a corner and being attacked. The solution is a Hay Feeding Station. This building is completely open at the front and designed to accept large oblong bales of hay or round bales. Ensure the floor of the feeding station is covered in grass mats topped with rubber stable mats for ease of sweeping. The hay can be delivered directly into the building and the horses can come and go as they wish. The vast opening at the front makes it easy for a less dominant horse to escape if challenged by another. The height of the building allows delivery direct by a tractor and fore loader. The width and depth allow room for several bales of hay plus access for several horses. This enables the horses to eat safely and the hay to stay dry and at ground level. If you keep the Hay Feeding Station swept regularly you should find you waste much less hay and have happy horses who have somewhere dry and sheltered to eat in. They can access it whenever they wish and you won’t have the hassle of carting hay across wet paddocks.
Accessories for the feeding station
To maximise the Hay Feeding Station or field shelter, you may wish to install a remote-controlled solar light. This can be turned on and off as you need it, maximising it’s stored power. If you prefer it can be switched to ‘movement sensor’ mode.
We have found this particular product to be simple to install and very bright, even in the winter months. Being relatively inexpensive, it’s a real bonus.
If you want to make your Hay Feeding Station or field shelter even more user-friendly, have some guttering fitted with a downpipe leading into a water trough. This will catch the rainwater allowing your horses to have natural drinking water, free of charge!
You may choose to fit some tie rings inside your building This would enable you to hang a salt lick to the interior wall and save it dissolving in the rain. The tie rings could also be used for tying up your horse for grooming or the farrier whilst happily munching hay.
Inside space is useful all year round for shelter from the elements or storage when not in use by your horse.