Hay slow feeders come in many sizes and designs. The principle behind them is to a) reduce waste, and b) slow intake of hay.
Our FeedXL members occasionally ask, “how do I take into account the use of a slow feeder?” The simple answer is you probably don’t need to. While slow feeders are a fantastic tool for slowing the intake of hay, they generally don’t limit your horse’s daily intake of hay i.e. it just takes them longer to eat the same amount of hay. This has several benefits including maximising the time your horse spends eating (mimicking grazing behaviour) to prevent boredom and reduce the risk of developing gastric ulcers.
To enter the amount of hay your horse is eating from a slow feeder each day into FeedXL, just weigh the hay you are putting in the slow feeder and enter this amount in FeedXL
If you’re wanting to reduce the intake of hay for weight control, you ideally need to feed a set (restricted) amount in your horse’s slow feeders per day (rather than free access to a round bale or similar). While a slow feeder will be beneficial in reducing the time taken to eat the restricted amount of hay, keep in mind that you may need to still divide the hay into more than 2 feedings per day.
To get a gauge on how regularly you need to top up your slow feeders, spend a day or two observing your horse’s hay intake (from the slow feeder) and take note of how long it takes them to finish the hay. Ideally, you don’t want your horses going longer than 4 to 5 hours without eating.
P.S. If you want to use a slow feeder but you can’t use anything with a net because your horse has shoes, check out The Savvy Feeder, we think they are brilliant!