Have a stalled TWH that is a fussy hay eater. Were he is stalled we are unable to turn the horse out to graze on grass unless we are there but have a large riding arena to ride. Bedding is a sand base with pine pellets. Feed is Alfalfa based pellets w/15% fat. When we bought the horse he was malnourished but since has put on 150-200 pds and now looks good. Unknown what the eating habits were in Tennessee (do know it was not enough). When we brought him to Louisiana, we tried for a month to cut him over to Coastal Bermuda and Bahia. All he would do was throw it around and would not eat it the hay. You would think a horse that was starving would eat anything. He will graze grass normally. Had teeth floated (teeth were good) but went to a hay stretcher pellet cause we were starting to become concerned about fiber. This went on for about a month. Started mixing some Alfalfa with the Bermuda, he would eat the Alfalfa but throw the Bermuda on the ground so the stall was a wreck. Found some Timothy mix rough hay, he seemed to eat it but still threw the Bermuda that was mixed on the ground. OK, finally found something the horse will eat.
Ran across a site for a commercial made barrel "slow hay feeder" and thought before I spent the money to buy one, I could make one to see if it would work. Went to YouTube and found videos of a slow feeder box that looked easy enough to make. One sheet of 3/4 CDX will build a box large enough to easily fit one 2 string bale. For the top grate I used 4"x2" dog fence framed with 2x4. Put a whole bale of the Bermuda that he would not eat before into the box and mixed a pad of Alfalfa across the top to get him used to the box. We pulled the hay up thru the grate to better resemble grass he would graze on. That first night, the grate dropped about 3". Watching him yesterday at feeding time, he would rip the hay from the top of the grate, just like he would rip grass from a field. You don't have to pull the hay up thru the grate each time, he can still use his lips to pull pieces of hay, but it was interesting watching how he thought he was grazing in a field. He is now eating the hay he would not touch a month ago as long as he can get a stand of Alfalfa mixed with it. Waste has gone to ZERO, hay stays clean, no sand (colic?) and no shavings get mixed with it. Poop has gone from cow piles to normal.
Now this has me thinking..... There is a article on this link: Horse Health
that has me re-evaluating. Have a Two Eyed Jack quarter horse that we stalled for two years in Louisiana that we recently moved to Tennessee. While he was in Louisiana he ate 3 pads of Coastal Bermuda in the morning and 3 in evening from a hay rack with little waste BUT had colic at least 4 times that I know of. Took him the last time he had colic to a Amish vet in Tennessee. Diagnosis was ulcers but not yet bleeding. He now gets a daily dose of yeast, stalled during the day but now is able to free graze at night and is doing fine. I am starting to believe the problem may have been stall boredom. He would eat his feed and hay and have to wait until the next feeding to eat again. If he would have been able to nibble on hay throughout the day whenever he wanted, would we have had the colic problem? We ride our horse 2/3 times a week in Louisiana but still don't exercise them like we should. When we go to Tennessee, 10 to 23 mile trail rides are normal.
The slow hay feeder has given me that ability to test different hays, keep the stall clean, don't have clean the sand or shavings out of his hay and maybe help with a stall boredom issue. I now believe that they are a good tool. Attached are two photos. My daughter did kind of spice it up with some field roughage. The grate dropped at least 3" in 13 hrs. after 12 hrs.jpg full.jpg