Round Bale Feeders: Article from the Horse

January 3, 2012 14:22 by Jaime
"Round-bale feeder design affected hay waste and feeder payback, but not horse safety, estimated intake, or pen weight change during the feeding period," the team concluded. "The take-home message is a feeder must be used when feeding round bales to horses."

I recently read the article Economics of Round Bale Feeders Examined from The Horse.  As a user and buyer of round bales, I found the article very interesting.  My pastures are smaller than adequate and lack necessary quantities of natural vegetation for grazing.  I supply the round bales so that they will always have a source of of food for chew time as well as the ability to create heat in the winter, but currently I just push them off my truck into the pasture without a feeder.  My horses also receive feed twice daily.  I believe the article is worth reading and is linked here; however, there were two main points that I wanted to discuss.

Most of the time I see my horses out with a round bale, they are eating.  I do not find this odd since, if there was grass, I would expect them to be grazing.  They eat all the time.  They are horses.  It's what they do.  But according to the study, hay intake from a round bale without a feeder was only at 1.3% of body weight, which is well below the digestible energy requirement of 2-2.4%.  In my case, no harm is done (I believe) since I also feed a grain ration; however, it is still quite surprising to me since every feeder they tested resulted in an intake rate sufficient for maintenance.  To restate, the use of a round bale feeder actually resulted in a higher percentage of hay being eaten per day.

All of the feeders tested resulted in less waste than using no feeder.  That alone did not surprise me.  The actual numbers did surprise me.  According to the study, every feeder they tested reduced waste, some down to 5-6% of the bale.  The number that astounded me was the 57% waste of the control group, which had no feeder at all.  No feeder at all is the category which my small operation currently falls into.  If the number holds true, over half of every bale I bring home ends up being wasted.  It would not take long at all for a feeder to pay for itself (which the article is also quick to point out!)

So this brings me to the question portion of my article.  Have you used a round bale feeder?  What kind did you use and what were your experiences?  Did you notice a change in eating habits or the amount of money spent on hay?  Did your horses suffer any injuries?  Do you have any suggestions, as I am definitely going to be looking for one now?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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