Damage to incisors from slow feeders? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-13-2020, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Damage to incisors from slow feeders?

I'm currently working on a resource for an article that's looking at the effects of slow feeders on horse teeth. Several posts have come up on Facebook and other places with people showing possible damage due to extended slow feeder use. We want to gather info that folks can use to assess the relative risks/benefits of different feeder designs.

In particular, I'm curious whether:
  • You've seen examples of tooth damage due to slow hay feeders?
  • If so, what type(s) of slow hay feeders have you observed to cause dental damage?

If anyone has photos of damage/or lack of damage from a particular feeder type, I'd be interested in seeing those as well. Thanks!

Last edited by jaydee; 08-14-2020 at 10:42 AM. Reason: removed company name
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-13-2020, 01:40 PM
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I just had an equine dentist out a month ago. He is considered one of the best in my tri-state area. I specifically asked him about slow feeders with netting and tooth damage. he said that he sees more than a thousand horses a year and has yet to see one from a net slow feeder or good quality grazing muzzle ( I asked about these as we have a mare that wears a muzzle and eats out of a net)

he felt that the myth about tooth wear came from those people who had not really studied or looked at teeth and that they were going by anecdotal evidence. he has done my horses for the 4 years we have owned this group and was happy to show me that there is no wear on the incisors and that from his prior years notes and diagram all work was done on the molars (points etc) and nothing on the "smile" or incisors

He did stress that any slow feeder or muzzle with metal would cause tooth and enamel damage.

FWIW my equine dentist is Chenoweth Equine Dentistry out of IL
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-13-2020, 06:40 PM
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Mine eats out of a netted round bale all winter. I noticed this year he was wearing his front incisors. Vet was out for a dental, I brought it up. They agreed it was from the netting but wasn't worried about it as it's a long way from sensitive tissue and the grinding surface is still good.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-13-2020, 07:04 PM
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I've used nets for many years with my horses, and know personally many, many other people who use them, and have yet to see any wear of incisors. Only thing about it I know of is, a friend(with obese horses who get laminitis at least once a year, so she should be far more concerned about actual & serious probs than conceivably possible minor ones anyway...) told me she wouldn't use nets because they caused tooth damage. She got this from a brumby rescue org who told her not to use them. Who had seen photos of tooth damage attributed to slow feeders. Couldn't tell any details about it though. So I asked about it on this forum, and here too, aside from one or 2 anecdotal cases, conceivably from slow feed nets, people here hadn't found them to cause probs either.
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-13-2020, 09:55 PM
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Use a round bale net on and off during the winter never an issue. When bitter cold I don't use the net.

Don't use slow feeder nets this time of year. Horses are working hard. So don't need to be restricted or slowed down eating hay

Only slow feeders I know cause teeth wear are the metal grate ones.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-17-2020, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the input!

Originally Posted by loosie View Post
...a friend(with obese horses who get laminitis at least once a year...
That's interesting. I've seen a few places where there's been a possible link mentioned between laminitis and increased risk of dental problems.

Originally Posted by rambo99 View Post
Only slow feeders I know cause teeth wear are the metal grate ones.
That's the most consistent thing I'm finding so far. Tooth damage really seems to be limited to slow feeders that incorporate metal between the horse and its food.

Thanks again for the feedback...I'll try to post a link to the finished article once it's wrapped up.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-17-2020, 02:26 PM
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My horses eat out of nets about half of the time. I have two 13 year olds and one 4 year old and none of them have abnormal wear on their incisors. I'd say more but that's all I have.

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post #8 of 16 Old 08-17-2020, 04:20 PM
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Baby teeth are soft. Most noticable was on my youngest gelding, but I don't think I took pictures.
But even adult teeth wear. They are always being worn down by food and they're always growing in. If the net's material is strong enough and horse has to put a lot of scraping effort into it to get any hay out, it'll wear adult teeth down, too. Shouldn't be anywhere near as dramatically as baby teeth or as metal feeders cause, though.

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post #9 of 16 Old 08-17-2020, 04:40 PM
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I personally think it depends on the size of the net really. My nets all have huge holes and it's more just to keep hay in place. The small ones you need for the fatties and lami lot.. I imagine those can cause wear definitely. Also what about how long they are having to eat from nets/slow feeders etc? Is it 16 hours a day or 6? Stabled or out?

Sadly no personal experience in this specifically. But have seen cribber with terrible teeth so it's not exactly implausible with nets and feeders. Am interested as well now!
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-17-2020, 07:40 PM
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My horses have been eating out of slow feeder nest (small holes!) for years and it has never been an issue. I call bs. Show me an actual study and I might be more inclined to believe it, but all I've ever seen was anecdotal. I think we should base our decisions on science, not anecdotal evidence.

But if you want anecdotal, my 21 yr old's back teeth are worn down (incisors look perfectly normal and he has his teeth examined every 6 months). Because he's 21. Obviously, his back teeth are not affected by slow-feeder nets. Do they have to work to get the hay out? Heck yes! That's the idea! I live in Canada where the ground is covered in snow for 8 months of the year. They literally have nothing to do all day but figure out how to get hay from the haynets. I feed 6 times a day, one or two flakes at a time so they almost always have something to nibble on. This whole idea that you can just give them free choice hay doesn't work for easy keepers. They gulp it down, then have nothing to do so they develop vices. Mine are turned out 24/7 with haynets placed in different parts of the winter paddock to encourage movement. This replicates life in nature more closely since they need to move around and work to get a little bit of food in them consistently throughout the day rather than gorge themselves on 2-3 big meals.
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dental , injury prevention , question , slow feeder hay net , slow feeders

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