You recently unloaded a new round bale into your horse’s pen, and already you see the “leftovers” decorating the well-trod perimeter of the bale. Very seldom do we see a horse that cleans up around his hay feeder; more often than not, stalks of unwanted pieces, mixed with manure and wetness, usually “garnish” the places where our horses feed on hay. Especially when round bales are used, hay waste can be a headache and an economical worry.
University of Minnesota researchers compiled an easy-to-use assessment of some common round bale feeder efficiencies. One of the considerations the study was designed to measure was the hay waste of nine different round bale feeders. Waste Less showed 5% mean waste, the lowest of all feeders tested. Cinch Net was a close second at 6% waste, and Hayhut was third with 9% waste.
Overall, the feeders in the study that provided easier access to hay, such as the Hay Sleigh, the Ring, and the Tombstone, resulted in more hay waste than the feeders that somewhat restricted access to the hay, such as the Waste Less, Cinch Net, Hayhut, and Covered Cradle. However, all feeders reduced hay waste than simply feeding a round bale directly on the ground – doing this can cause an average of 57% wastage of the bale. At current hay prices, this amount of waste adds up very quick. Also, horses showed no specific preference to eat out of any type of the feeders tested. Therefore, a round bale feeder of your chosen type is a great way to reduce waste, keep your checkbook happy, and your horse well-fed.
If you want to learn more about the feeders used in this study, or see how the one you use measures up, check out the article below!
From: Martinson K, Wilson J, Cleary K, Lazarus W, Thomas W, Hathaway M. Round-bale feeder design affects hay waste and economics during horse feeding. J Anim Sci 2011; published online before print.