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Barbara's hay feeders
(with minor updates, added 12-9-08)
Easy slow-down feeders, made by putting "gridwall" metal grids into wooden hay feeders
Years ago I had built wooden feeders to keep the horses' hay up off the sand, basically open boxes that are raised on legs. Now we got sheets of 3-inch by 3-inch wire grid to insert in the feeders. You simply rotate up the wire grid to put the hay underneath. We have now been feeding with this grid for about over three months, and it is working impressively well. The photos show three different feeders and the horses happily eating the hay through the metal grid in each. [These photos are also available on the Photos section of EquineCushings Yahoo under "a slow-down-feeder-design, from Barbara".]
For technical details on the wooden feeders, my favorite feeder size is 4 feet by 4 feet [photo # 5 & 6] [favorite because it does not get moved around or thrown over, while the horses sometimes move or turn over the 4 feet by 3 feet feeder [photo # 3 & 4] and the 3 feet by 3 feet feeder [photo # 1 & 2]; so we now attach those smaller feeders to a support; see the baling twine in photo #4]. The feeder is made from 1/2 inch thick plywood, using 4x4s at the corners (the smaller feeders use 2x4s) to screw the plywood into, and to extend nearly a foot further down, serving as legs [see photos]. The plywood sides are about 2 1/2 feet high [and start nearly 1 foot above the ground, so they reach around 3 1/2 feet high; seen in photos 4 & 6]. The height you select should enable you to easily reach over the top to remove the residue remaining from the eaten hay, yet high enough so that no horse could ever put a foot inside. The top and bottom edges of the plywood sides are reinforced with 1x4s (on the outside); and at the inside bottom are also 2x2s to help hold up the removable base (which is further supported by two 2x2s extending between them); also, the removable base is cut into two sections, to facilitate cleaning out the hay residue. These feeders have worked great over the years. The only minor problem had been that horses sometimes moved chunks of hay from the feeders to the ground, diminishing the feeders' effect of keeping hay out of the sand/dirt. So putting the metal grid into the feeders over the hay was both to prevent the hay from being moved to the ground and to slow down their eating.
For technical details on the metal grid: I used "gridwall", which is made for displays in stores, and is easy to get by looking in the yellow pages under "store fixtures". It is 3 inch by 3 inch grid, made out of 1/4 inch thick steel (so it is strong, but not inordinately heavy), and comes in lots of size sheets. The stores I checked had it mainly in 2 feet wide sections, in various lengths from 4 to 8 feet long, and they have simple connectors so you can put sections together to make any width, to fit the feeders. They sell it in painted metal and in chrome, but i worried the paint may have lead, so got the chrome. [Our local stores had 4 feet wide sections in painted metal]. This stuff is quite well-priced -- for instance, the chrome grid for our 4 foot by 4 foot hay feeder was $29 (it would have been $24 for new painted grid or $15 for used painted grid). The corners were then cut out, to fit around the 4x4s of the feeder (see photo #4). If I was making the feeders now, I would put the 4x4 supports outside the feeder, not inside, so that one would not need to cut the corners out from the grid, to fit around these supports. [That should also reduce what occasionally happens in one of our feeders where there is a sizable space between the gridwall and the feeder sides, that the aggressive-eating horse has managed to get the cut corners of the gridwall jammed on the side of the feeder.]The metal grid lays inside the feeders, and gets rotated up to put the hay flakes underneath.Because the sides of the feeder are relatively high and the grid is substantial, the horses never lift the grid nearly far enough to pull itout from the feeder.The braver horses started eating through the grid almost immediately, but it took an hour to convince our most scaredy-cat horse it was OK. Since then, everyone eats fine.
** Our conclusions: The grid does significantly slow the horse's eating and also stops them from throwing any hay on the ground. Both real good things. And it is easy for us to use; in fact, it makes the upkeep easier, as there is basically no wasted hay on the ground.
[Final notes: Although we are using 3"x3" gridwall,I had first wanted a grid with 2"x2" openings, as recommended by the original Swedish website(www.swedishhoofschool.com); yet almost all their photos show quite large grid size, probably 4"x4"). However, that did not seem to be locally available in a heavy enough gauge wire to be safe, and I now fear that "x2" openings would be too restrictive, with our hay for horses. [Possibly, with soft grass-like hay and/or small ponies, 2"x2" grid could be My guess is that,if one wants to very greatly slow their eating, a2 inch x 4 inch grid (which is available from midwest agricultural steel manufacturers for a substantial shipping cost) might be good; or one could fasten two layers of 3 inch x 3 inch mesh together, offset to make a smaller effective grid openings. Alternatively, I since then learned that one can get metal grids with almost any size openings from companies found by Googling [welded wire mesh] and [your state], but these seem considerably more expensive than gridwall.I might also mention that there had been considerable discussion about whether the horses could possibly damage their teeth biting the wire mesh, but the horses pick out the hay with their lips and not their teeth, so they never bite the mesh;and because they do not gum or lick the metal, they do not have trouble when it is below freezing. I did, however, put duct tape over the metal connectors we uses to join together the 2 foot wide sections of metal grid, so that if one of them comes loose, the horses could not accidentally chomp on it.]
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Latest page update: made by tangledmanes
, Oct 14 2009, 11:59 PM EDT
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