Encouraging head-down eating?

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Encouraging head-down eating?

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  • 1 Post By verona1016

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    11-28-2012, 04:04 PM
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Encouraging head-down eating?

Somehow things have manged to work out that most of Lacey's human-facilitated eating time has ended up with her having her head level with her withers or slightly higher.
I know it's better for her to eat off the ground so I'm thinking that someone, somewhere, might have a good suggestion I had not thought of.

First off, she spends most of her day grazing the pasture. There's not a whole lot of grass out there but it's enough to occupy her all day so her head is down then. She's out from about 7:30am-5pm everyday.

Then, from 5pm-7:30am-ish, she's in her large stall. She has a hay net in there (she'll eat too much too fast/make too much of a mess if it's just piled in a corner), I feed her a single flake on the ground, and her "extras" (hay pellets+supplements) go in her bucket in a corner feeder.
I had previously been setting her bucket on the ground but she is much more interesting in finishing her food when it's off the ground. I assume it must be some combination of maybe some neck arthritis and her blindness.

Maybe there's nothing to be done... I had thought of maybe making some sort of off the ground feeder for her grain bucket that wasn't as high as the corner feeder but was still raised a foot or so...

Maybe it's not something to really be worried about...I've just noticed an increase her coughing after trotting out of her stall, or whatever, and the increase seems to be directly related to when all her fed-food went off the ground...

Ideas? Thank you!
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    11-28-2012, 04:37 PM
The first thing I think of is dust- do you wet down the hay pellets/supplements (if any of them are powders)? How about the hay? That's probably the first thing I would try; if that's it, you should see a difference within a few days.
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    11-28-2012, 10:12 PM
Super Moderator
I do soak her pellets+supplements for 5-10 minutes before feeding them, but that's a good point about the hay. I did recently start feeding compressed alfalfa (the floor flake though) and that's pretty dusty... I hadn't even considered that!
I've never soaked her hay net but that's definitely something I should try. I wouldn't be able to start that just yet (the property owner's water main broke last week and they're out of town currently so it won't be fixed until they get back in a few weeks = water rationing!) but I'll give it a try when I can!
    11-29-2012, 06:09 AM
'Horses must eat at ground level' is a myth!

Horses pick up a certain amount of food and then raise their heads and chew while keeping an eye out for predators - this was from our very experienced dental tech who teaches all over the world.

As he said to us that if horses ate soley with their heads on the ground they would be extinct by now as they would not be able to see predators and would all have been gobbled up.

Wallaby to make the Alfalfa less dusty soak a hessian sack with water and wrap the flake of hay inside it. If you do that in the morning it will be ready for the evening feed and same for the morning feed, wrap it in a wet sack over night.

For the ordinary hay place hay in a good sized trug, open up the slices a little then pour a kettle of boiling wwater over it, then cover the trug with a sack to keep the steam in. Allow to cool before feeding - you can do the same with the haynet too if the trug is big enough.
    11-30-2012, 07:24 PM
Why boiling water? I've heard of using hot water for reducing sugars, but is it any more effective than cold water for removing dust?
    11-30-2012, 07:51 PM
It steams the hay rather than soak it - imany horses - like mine - do not eat soaked hay.

Dust also tends to soak up hot water where with cold it tends to roll off.
    11-30-2012, 07:54 PM
I assume it's for the steam....it gets to all of the hay, not just superficial like cold water would do.
    11-30-2012, 08:02 PM
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman    
I assume it's for the steam....it gets to all of the hay, not just superficial like cold water would do.
Thats it

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