Hay Ring: Is It A Must? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: SE United States
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Hay Ring: Is It A Must?

I feel like I know the answer to this, but I'm not sure "why"? :)

Can someone please explain to me the type of hay ring, and why they are important so that I can go buy one this week and try to make an educated decision on one?

Backstory and update to anyone that has commented on my very basic questions before (THANK YOU). Over the Summer 2019, my husband and I purchased a new home with land/barn and took my previously always boarded horse back to our little farm to live with us. Neither have had horses that we've been responsible for, so we're learning. So far we've had pretty good luck minus 2 of the 3 horses having a thyroid condition that the farrier caught early on, and now we're really trying to prep for winter. It took us a little while to find a hay guy since we're new to the area and still trying to meet people and get our resources in order, but we found someone to deliver us some round bales this week.


Last edited by jaydee; 11-11-2019 at 11:55 AM. Reason: moved second question to a thread of its own
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post #2 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 10:00 AM
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Do you need a hay ring for round rolls...no.

Might you want one...probably to lessen waste.
There are 2 big differences in hay rings...

First one or a close variation is for horses. Second is cow style....horse of course is more expensive

Horses should be protected from putting their neck through the to reach the hay, but from the top and open so as not to damage/break the neck nor wear the mane off. Also a solid bottom is preferred so they not paw and get a hoof caught.
Shop around and take screenshots and then go shopping.
Tractor Supply will meet/beat competitor pricing can save you a ton of money on such items.
Rural King does the same as so most stores wanting your business.
Look at quality of the product and the thickness of the metal piping used, ease of moving it cause opening/closing and placing over a round roll is sometimes challenging based on size of the roll.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Dec 2014
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Hay "ring"? I'm guessing you mean a round bale feeder?

Mainly they prevent waste where the animals spread the hay out and use it for (er, um) _bedding_, so yea, a worthwhile investment. IMO, a better, if initially more expensive feeder is the Hay Hut or similar, as it does a better job of containing the forage, and also protects it from the weather. I have used both and much prefer the Hay Hut. Some people also use a "hay-net", both to help contain the hay, and to slow down overly avid eaters. Most horses self regulate after a few weeks of free access, but do keep an eye on them, and use a net if they appear to be over-eating after the first month or so.

Unless you have a fairly stout tractor equipped with a hay-spear on the loader, you will find the large rounds troublesome. I have used them, and also the 3X3X8 large "square" bales, but they are just too much for my compact tractor to move safely, and I keep coming back to the common 2-string "small" ~60lb bales, as they are so much easier to deal with. My three animals do about one small bale/day in the winter when there is minimal grazing available; 2 or 3 bales in a week when there is fresh forage available in their not particularly lush pasture.

As long as they have shelter, and free access to forage, most horses will probably not require winter turnouts in the SE part of the US, and turnouts do require some additional work on your part. My rule for blankets is that they go on for heavy precipitation followed by rapidly falling temperatures. Around here, that translates to a period of balmy weather followed by rain turning to slush, turning to snow, with temperatures falling from 50 - 60F to around 0F overnight, and total accumulations of a foot or more of the white stuff. This is a very common weather pattern for this part of the country. Just keep an eye on your critters, and if you notice them getting wet and shivering, or losing weight in the winter, consider blankets as needed.

Hope this helps.

a Priefert round bale feeder, and my gang at their Hay Hut:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg balefeeder.jpg (22.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg team_Hay_Hut.jpg (188.2 KB, 3 views)
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Steve Jernigan KG0MB
Microelectronics Research
University of Colorado
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post #4 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 10:12 AM
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So...you can make a round roll feeder to protect your hay from horses making a mess and big loss of product too.
Your ingenuity is paramount to success...
This is using old pallets..or fence boards.

I've also seen where the fence is made to allow the shape of a round roll inserted into it with easier access and as it is a outside area kept no fully enclosed needed done.

And this one is a more deluxe model in design but the roof structure helps to keep the hay drier = less chance of molding and waste.

I happen to have my round roll behind my barn where I used 16' gates to restrict access to the roll.
My roll is not in any feeder, but I also rake, cleanup and pitch any loose hay pulled off the roll and feed it to my horses for later in the day when they are not allowed the roll...
I have zero waste, literally no waste but work for myself to do.
I also tarp my hay every night to keep dry.

One thing I will stress is keep the hay off the ground...invest in HD pallet and make a structure to hold the roll from moving around.
Off the ground several inches lessens waste from moisture absorption happening = molding occurring.
I also only set my rolls on end, never flat so any rain hopefully sheds off not soak into the hay.
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #5 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 10:26 AM
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I like the hayhut idea but can not justify spending $800 for a plastic playhouse is what it looks like to me.
I see many had them, they did not last long and were discarded for whatever the reasoning.

So much depends on the animal.
Age and health are factors only you know about.
Weather that is soaking to the skin of a animal makes it so much harder for them to stay warm and it is warm that keeps them comfortable in winter.
You might not need a heavy insulated blanket but maybe a waterproof sheet so the animal not be soaked, has a barrier from stinging rains would be a invited asset to the pony.
A windbreak from cold northern winds my horses like..

I live in Florida, so no snow...but my horses do wear t/o sheets for a wind break and to keep their body dry when we get those nasty rain wind-driven soakers or even a all-day mist that chills the animals.
Winter coats take a lot to soak, but once wet they also take forever to dry...keeping them dry is most of the battle of keeping them comfortable.
If the animal is chilled, offer support of a blanket/sheet.
If they shiver they are working very hard to get warm and burning huge amounts of calories doing so...
If they act miserable, they are...
You will also know if they like the protection a blanket/sheet offers by attitude and body language shown...
Know your horses and pony, know their habits and read their body language will tell you what is best for them...it is about them.
You read & hear all kinds of things about blanketing...from experts and us horselovers.
I listen to my animals...they tell me all I need to know on this subject of blanketing, yes or no.
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 10:27 AM
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@george the mule - I would love a hay hut!!!

I do have a feeder because after having them use the round bale for bedding and a bathroom I invested in a feeder. I put the round bale on a pallet and then the feeder around it. I try to cover it from rain but it doesn't always work. They seem to eat it up pretty good so not much waste. I let them free feed on it and supplement with the 3x3x8's orchard or alfalfa, yes they are a pain to work with but my tractor can pull them okay and then push them on pallets, these I make sure to cover.
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post #7 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 10:33 AM
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I don't have a picture of one but you can also buy covers that attach to round bale feeders. I don't feed rounds unless I absolutely have to- and the last time I did I removed hay from the bale and fed it like that - with no access to the bale.

As new horse owner I want to caution you that round bales are not just - place out there and forget kind of thing. As others have mentioned horses will pull apart that bale looking for the very best of the hay - and what they pull of they will stand on - poop and pee on and sleep in. This makes for a HUGE mucky - gummy mess in the spring.

Round bales are great but they really should be managed - hay huts, custom feeders etc are awesome. I know that @evaL mc uses a Little Tykes play house or something along those lines to cover her round bales - she also uses slow feed nets over the bale.

Welcome to horses at home! It's always something!!!
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post #8 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 11:12 AM
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Do your horses have shoes on? If so, yes I would get a round bale feeder. We don't have one currently but need one for fall/early spring when our horses do have shoes on.

If not, most of my friends (and us) just use a Hay Chix net. We're currently setting our netted round bale (ours are huge, roughly 6X6 monster 1800 lb bales) on an old tractor tire to keep it out of the mud/slop which has been working really well. If you get a Hay Chix net get the heavy duty one, I got the regular to save money and I'm doing several repairs a week. Hopefully Santa will bring me a new Heavy Duty one for Christmas.
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post #9 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 11:34 AM
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For me one round is $60. The number of square bales to equal the weight is 30. At 8.50 that is $255. The round price hasn't changed more than $5 up or down in 20 years, haven't paid more than $60 this year and all are the same quality - squares change weight, change price and change quality so 8.50 is the average this year. I go through at least 4 rounds a month. I do use a ring. Even putting squares in box feeders when I have had a horse in the pen haven't stopped the waste so that money is squandered for several reasons. I save by forking off the round.

ETA to fix the math. I weighed a couple of the squares. They are 40ish pounds. I will say the person I get rounds from does not do squares. The squares are coming from the feed store because my other hay supplier has all his squares spoken for.

The four rounds are $240. The equal weight in squares is $1020. Plus I have to make up for the waste of they lose weight wise so an almost $120 extra to make up. Now this would be if I had to feed squares to all. The rings are worth the expense and save enough in preventing waste that they pay for themselves plus they are a one time expense and if kept maintained last. I'd also have to have room to store the squares. I could keep it on the trailer as I do the rounds but I can't keep the same weights worth. So, that means more trips, plus the hassle of feeding the squares. Even if I have to fork off the rolls it isn't as much of a chore as I put the bale outside the pasture I feed it in on pallets. Could I do the same with squares - sure but then I am unstacking and moving. Too much time and labor. For the most part the rounds are put out in rings and I don't have to do anything but put new rolls out. As they are left on the trailer and tarped against weather I don't need a tractor. I drive the trailer out, unload the bale and then park it until I need the next bale. 1 person job though two makes it easier.

Last edited by QtrBel; 11-11-2019 at 01:41 PM.
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post #10 of 45 Old 11-11-2019, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
For me one round is $60.
Around here, an 800lb 3X3X8 is ~$120 delivered. I just bought 50 small bales for $10ea; they were about 60lb bales, and it was a DIY project. So $130 vs $120, just not enough savings to justify the hassle of the bigger bales. For me; the sole caregiver.

But do the math for your neck of the woods.
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University of Colorado
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