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Slow Feeding: The Revolution

goat

When we read about the “Slow Feeding Movement,” we had one of those hand-thunking-against-head moments.  Somewhere deep within our braincases, the idea of returning domesticated animals to a more natural eating cycle clicked on a light bulb.

Slow Grazer net

First, understand that keeping animals fenced in and unable to roam the plains or climb mountains is unnatural.  Spending their lives confined in stalls or barns is even more unnatural.  Horses (and cattle, goats, etc.) are designed to spend their days in search of food.  That search is an endless cycle of grabbing a bit of grass and then walking to another bit of grass.

Of course, the average livestock owner does not own thousands of acres nor do they relocate their animals in winter to southern grassy plains.  Hay is fed to supplement during the winter and even throughout the summer months.  The owners may decide to place a large round bale out in a field or feed individually with flakes from square bales.  Either way, a lot of the hay goes to waste.

There are other problems that come along with winter feeding.  With a round bale feeding, dominant animals often park themselves in front of the bale and block less aggressive members of the herd from eating.  Some will eat will literally eat themselves sick if allowed unlimited access to hay.  Many horse owners choose to stall-feed their horses for that reason.  With stall-feeding, the owners control the amount of hay and feed the horse has access to and the horses don’t have to compete for food.  The only trouble?  The horses gobble up their food the moment it is placed in their stalls and then they must stand around waiting for the next meal.  While waiting, they tend to get bored and that’s when they start cribbing, pacing, weaving, or other bad habits.

None of this is natural.  Not one bit of it.  The results?  The horses get ulcers, expensive stalls get destroyed, animals that are low on the totem pole stay hungry, aggressive animals get fat, and the owners can’t ever go anywhere because they are feeding on a schedule.

Slow-Feeding

The solution?  The slow-feeder net.  We are HUGE fans.  This net makes it possible for us to have a horse on our small property without worrying that she’s not getting enough grass.  The net, because the animals know it’s always full, is not a point of contention.  The squares of the net are just the right size so that Anna can only grab a few wisps at a time.  Once her jaw is tired, she lounges in the shade before returning to her beloved net.  The goats and horse eat side-by-side.  I only have to refill the net once a day and I don’t have to worry if I sleep in a little late.  We purchased a net that holds a full square bale of hay, a net for a round bale, and two nets (which hold about half of a bale) for the stalls or for trailering.

Check out www.slowfeeding.com for more information!  Order the hay nets here.

P.S.  SlowFeeding.com did not pay for my glowing endorsement of their product nor did they give me free stuff.  This is just my way of passing on solutions to problems faced by caring livestock & horse owners — particularly small scale livestock & horse owners. 

  • Rosa - Very interesting! Better for the animals…

    Cheers,

    RosaReplyCancel

  • Simple Livin' gal - I thought it was really neat, too! Josh found it by way of the Swedish Hoof School website. We find that European professional horsemen & women tend to be a bit more progressive in horse & animal care. We don’t know why that is — but we are really glad to share our findings!ReplyCancel

  • Gina F. - I checked out their website and was positively fascinated. I think I’ll order one of the nets that can hold a full bale and just try it. Winter months make for long hours here in Canada. I’m up feeding the horses at five am, again around noon, five in the evening,, and then around ten. The horses spend a lot of their time in the stalls and while the extra feedings have helped reduce the cribbing, pacing, and so on I’d like to try something like slow-grazing in one of the paddock sheds.

    Thank you for posting this!ReplyCancel

  • Simple Livin' gal - Gina: I really hope that you like the slow-grazing nets as much as we do and perhaps it will make for less work for you. Let us know what you think once you put your net to use!

    Blessings,
    LacyReplyCancel

  • Tia Julie - I love how both of you look for the best way to care for your animals. Getting back as close as you can to Nature’s way is always best…………….ReplyCancel

  • Sophie - Indeed, that’s a good solution & great for the animals!!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Wow, so glad I popped by today and saw this post. I showed C the website and we are going to get something going as well. We have a great trough/box we made for them last year that we could put the net in and they could have the whole bale and not eat so much. I am very excited about this.

    I noticed the round bale holder in the photos on the order page wasn’t like the round bales here. Our round bales are a few hundred pounds and are about 4 or 5 feet wide and 4 or 5 feet in diameter so it would take a pretty good rafter and tractor to hang one of those babies.ReplyCancel

  • The Cotton Wife - I am banning this site from my daughters. This is one more reason why we could get a horse in their eyes…

    🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Noake - I purchased a slowfeeding net from the Swedish site, and my mare ate a 100+lb bale of bermuda in 24 hours. I want to continuous feed, but this was way too much. Any suggestions.

    ThanksReplyCancel

  • sheila - Lacy,
    you both are amazing people….I truely loved visiting your little farm…the animals are truely happy…and I am about to order me a slow feeding net for my goat…..

    Love SheilaReplyCancel

  • marye~ - What an awesome idea. We’re thinking about getting goats, so I will definitely look into this! Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • marye~ - BTW, a friend of mine just got goats, a donkey and a pig so I passed this along to him!ReplyCancel

  • The Slow Feeding Theory..... Who on the forum does it? - […] a few links with different approaches to slow feeding. Slow Feeding: The Revolution : Razor Family Farms The Natural Horse Resource: Slow Hay Feeding Your Horse from the Ground: Hayslow and Slow Down […]ReplyCancel

  • Cyndi - The slow feed method is excellent however I do not recommend the Swedish Hoof slow feed nets as they are not durable. My horses had a hole in the bags in less than one week. The Swedish Hoof School would not stand behind their product and would not replace them offering instead that my horses were sick and suffering from ulcers so would therefore tear a whole in anything.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Freedom Feeder® , the original slow feed hay net MADE IN THE USA, is available in three sizes to create your feeding system.
    Horses are grazers, think of Freedom Feeder® as a “Pasture in a Net”.
    The 1.5″ nylon mesh controlled free access feeding system can: Reduce: Colic, Ulcers, Boredom, Vices, Wasted Feed – Enhance Digestion – Improve attitude and peak performance – Free owners from meal feeding regimens – Better Support Easy keepers, IR, cushing and metabolic horse issues as well as Not-So-Easy Keepers
    To order visit: FREEDOMFEEDER.COMReplyCancel

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