Building the Perfect Slow Feeder

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Building the Perfect Slow Feeder

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    12-11-2012, 12:39 AM
Building the Perfect Slow Feeder

Thought I'd share...

A friend of mine used to board my horses and was always trying new products. One particular type of products that caught my interest were slow feeders - she had a few out and explained to me each time why she was trying them. First, she educated me on the benefit of slow feeders, and I really liked the idea. However, I wasn't too fond of the original netted bags she put out for the horses to roll around and eat out of. Nothing ever happened, but I thought there was a lot of hay being lost out of the bag and what if someone got caught in a bag? She used a few other methods as well, but I still wasn't impressed and the bags seemed difficult and a mess to fill, especially for all 8-10 horses. To have one.

Then one day she brought home happygrazers and they were perfect! The bins were super easy to fill and I wasn't worried about safety or losing hay. Plus, you could feed a bale or so at a time and just go check on the horses each day to see if they needed more. Check them out here:Slow Feeder Home Page

Unfortunately, they don't do custom nets anymore - you have to order the whole feeder together. I don't exactly have $300 or so extra cash sitting around for a new feeder or even the $160 it'd cost to get a net and then have to find a bin to fit it. Thus, I'm going to make my own :)

The supplies:
I'm starting with a turned out tire big enough to hold a bale of hay (or a few broken up). It's about 3 1/2 feet around and 2 feet tall. My horses like to eat together and are currently sharing one of these, but not as a slow feeder (they did share the slow feeder when they were at my friend's place). I just purchased a 4x20' piece of hockey netting and net lacing from Arizona Sports Equipment.

The plan:
1) Cut the 20' length of netting to match the circumference of the tire.
2) Use lace (purchased with the netting) to lace the two short ends together, making a loop of netting that matches the tire opening.
3) Drill holes in the top of the tire a few inches apart all the way around.
4) Use the lace to tie the netting to the tire through the holes.
5) Use more lace through the top opening of the net (not connected to the tire) to create a draw-string to open and close the net.
6) Use some sort of clip or knot to tie off the opening when there's hay inside.

And then I'll have my very own slow feeder, even better than the ones on the website because it'll be huge! And.... it'll cost less than 1/3 of the price ;)
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    12-11-2012, 12:43 AM
Great idea! Let us know how it goes... I might use your ideal or at least the concept. Thanks for sharing :)
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    12-11-2012, 01:07 AM
Originally Posted by countrylove    
Great idea! Let us know how it goes... I might use your ideal or at least the concept. Thanks for sharing :)
Posted via Mobile Device
Thanks! I was pretty proud of myself for thinking it up ;) Now I just hope it works as well as I think it will!
    12-11-2012, 01:54 AM
Its a great idea. I hope it works because I want to use it LoL it sounds like a good solid idea :)
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    12-22-2012, 08:31 PM
I got my hockey netting yesterday, and today there is a slow feeder in the pasture!! It took a few hours and a bit of handiwork, but I'm really proud of myself Here's my step-by-step slow feeder :)

(in the next post once I get pictures working correctly)
    12-22-2012, 08:58 PM
First, the supplies. Materials included a 20x4' piece of hockey safety netting, 100' of lacing for the netting, and a medium turned out tire. Tools included a drill and drill bit for steel, scissors, and a small improvised "pusher" in the form of a stick.

Step 1: Drill holes. I had issues with my horses getting through the holes where the net connected to the bin with the slow feeder we used to use, so I drilled this each about an inch or two apart. I used the biggest bit my boarder had. You really do need the drill bit designed for steel, because it needs to cut into the rubber. The other drill bit I was originally using just danced around on the rubber and made it shiny, but didn't get me very far. In addition, the rubber doesn't make nice, round holes because bits and flaps of rubber stay connected even when you get the drill bit through. As a solution, I drilled all the holes from both directions. When drilling the second time from the opposite direction, I kept the drill on reverse and pushed the bit through and pulled it out, which pulled out a lot of the little bits. This made a nice enough hole that I could push the lacing through pretty easily.

Step 2: Lace the lacing through the holes and attach the net. Most of the time, I was able to stick the lacing right through, but if it got caught, I used a small stick to push it the rest of the way through. Easy enough! Each time I was on the inside of the tire, I ran the lacing through the edge of the net about 2 squares up to be sure it would hold.

Step 3: Tie off lacing to attach net to the tire, and then lace the edges together. Because of the shape of the tire and the way the net stretched, I kept going with the long side of the net (the side I was attaching to the tire) for another foot or so up the short side of the net to complete the circle, which accounts for the diagonal "seam". It ended up pretty good, albeit a little Frankenstein-esque lol.

Step 4: Lace a draw-string through the top opening of the net, tie the ends together (with the net still open to make sure you leave enough for a wide opening). Then, pull the draw string to close your net. There should be enough slack in the net so that the horse can push it around to reach all areas inside the tire.

Step 5: Place your slow feeder in a good location. Open up the slow feeder all the way (with the netting hanging down the outside), put hay in, then pull closed and tie! Still feed some hay outside the slow feeder while the horses are adjusting, then wean them off as they figure out how to work the slow feeder. Snickers has already figured out how to get the food out!

    12-22-2012, 08:59 PM
Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to keep feeding in the non-slow feeder tire for now since my baby has no teeth to get through the slow feeder!

    12-22-2012, 09:00 PM
Sorry for the huge pictures - I'm not sure how to make them smaller!
    12-23-2012, 12:56 PM
Very nice! Inspiring me to do something like that now...
    12-26-2012, 03:09 PM

The slow feeder has been out there for a few days now. Since the netting *was* white, it's obvious they've been eating out of it since it's now all green and grass-stained. There was still some food in there yesterday, but I threw a few more flakes out for them. I'm still feeding a flake or two each time in the other feeder since my baby is working on new front teeth lol. All in all, though, it's been a success! When I tighten it up, I tie a simple slip knot, then make the loop as long as the remaining section of the cord and tie them together with an overhand knot. This keeps me from having to undo a small, tight knot. I just have to loosen the bulky overhand, then pull the end to get the slip knot out! So far, they haven't managed to get it out. I highly recommend using the hockey net lacing from the place I got the netting, as it's cheap and slides really easily, but it's super durable and strong. I also don't have any holes or weak spots in the lacing or netting. Not to mention, the whole setup looks pretty nice. I'm loving my new feeder!

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