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MN Tigerstripes 12-12-2013 10:53 AM

Winter hay feeder options - One fat, one not
Can I get some opinions?

I have one horse and one large pony. The pony is fat and the horse is not.

Right now they are on a free choice alfalfa/grass round bale with a slow feeder net over the top of it. The bale is in a four sided feeder with a roof and walls that are about 3' tall. The openings are about 4.5' x 5' in size.

Horse eats like a reasonable creature, but Pony is constantly eating like a total lardo. Separating them and forking hay is not an option. When the weather is really bad I cannot reliably get out there (driveway blows shut quickly and the road is one of the last plowed). I have someone who checks on them to make sure they are ok and have water, but I can't ask that person to be throwing hay and filling different troughs. The set up now has no issues other than Pony being fat.

I am considering tarping off three of the sides during the day so that Pony can only eat when Horse is not eating during the day. He is aggressive enough that I doubt he would let her eat on the same side as him, but since he isn't constantly sitting there with his face in the bale she would be able to eat on/off. At night or when it's ridiculously cold I'd have it completely open.

What do you think? I need some other opinions/views on this so I'm not missing anything.

SueNH 12-12-2013 11:15 AM

You could try it. Not much to loose.

My round bales come wrapped. Yes it's dry horse hay. My hay guy rocks! I've tried leaving bales wrapped until I need them out there but they rip it open, taste test all around and every one so I only go get them as needed. When the horses rip the plastic I pretty much have to open it because I'm afraid moisture and heat will build up under the plastic destroying the bale. I tried duck tapping a tarp over it and that resulted in a ruined tarp and opened bales.

Can you get just plain grass hay? If I fed alfalfa of any amount 2 of mine would balloon up. They are plump as it is. One is a large pony, one a small pony. It's the small pony who monopolizes the hay here. I usually have 2 going once the weather gets cold just so the other 2 aren't without.

MN Tigerstripes 12-12-2013 11:24 AM

The hay was supposed to be grass with a "little" bit of alfalfa. It's a good 50-75% alfalfa. I could've killed my hay guy when he showed up, but I figured hay was better than no hay. I have all my hay for the winter and frankly no good way to switch it out at this point.

I should add that the pony is a 7 or so on the BSC, probably edging towards an 8. Gelding is about a 6. He eats like a normal, non-starving animal. She eats like you're coming to steal her last meal.

SueNH 12-12-2013 11:33 AM

Mine usually devour the first couple bales I drop then they calm down and eat a little more normally. They were on it this morning at dawn when I looked out. Little later they were poking around in the snow looking for green things. Most of the time they are just standing nearby snoozing in the sun. My pony is old, 38 yrs, very little bothers her much anymore except being late for dinner.

SueNH 12-12-2013 11:39 AM

My pony is probably IR. Never tested her, at this point in her life I'm not for too much poking but I would bet money on it. I avoid a grazing muzzle( so far, may not work later in life) by feeding her a very low carb hay stretcher. She fills up on that and doesn't graze nearly as much on green grass. I don't know that this tactic would have worked when she was younger. She's content to nap near the others while they eat most of the time now. Maybe you could try some variation of that?

MN Tigerstripes 12-12-2013 01:07 PM

Honestly, I don't think she gets full. Ever. :lol: She literally eats hay the same whether it's wonderful alfalfa filled hay or if it's stemmy filler grass hay. She does not stop eating. I've put them on a relatively restricted diet, but that increased aggression issues. Probably because the pony eats faster than the horse and was eating most of the hay. A grazing muzzle is fine during the summer or when not on hay, but for the winters, doesn't really work. She will eat like this all winter if I let her, that's what she did last year too. Unfortunately the hay is richer this year so I'm worried about her gaining way too much weight. I don't want to deal with IR/metabolic issues.

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