Horses are expensive critters to feed when there is no pasture and the price of hay is beyond the reach of many folks.
Would you invest the price of one hay bale to cut your cost of feeding hay by 40-60%?
Last year there wasn’t enough hay production in Texas to count. Our six horses were going through a round bale in just under a week. Last summer we scrounged up enough bales to make it through till next hay season. The amount of waste was increasing as the weather changed and we began to receive blessed rains!
We use a simple round bale ring but were still looking at the mess of ruined and stinky hay scattered all around the ring. The extra waste was eating up our supply faster than we anticipated. Round bales of horse quality hay are going for $120 -$200 each so we started looking for other options.
Hay Expense Reduced by 60%
You can buy a variety of round bale feeders that keep the hay bale up off the ground but they are prohibitively expensive, still allow horses to drop hay all over and trash it, and offer opportunities for horses to get injured jockeying for position around the feeder.
Investing a couple thousand dollars in a bale feeder experiment just didn’t seem wise so we chose to start small and try a round bale net. Instead of a bale lasting just under a week they now last up to 2 1/2 weeks! Our cost for hay went from $110 a week (what we paid) to less than $45 for six horses!
The amount you save will vary by situation, of course. One of the changes we made is to let the horses out into the pasture for a few hours a day. With the early rains we actually have some winter grass. Even when the horses can go out to the pasture they continue to get most of their forage from the round bales. The little bit of pasture grazing is mostly entertainment and therapy for the horses.
The benefits of Round Bale Hay Nets
- Cost of hay reduced by 40-60%
- Nasty, stinky waste also reduced by about the same, 40-60%
- Horses are kept busy for hours at the hay net
- Horses maintain a healthier body weight
- Horses eat smaller amount for longer periods of time just as nature intended
- Hay nets will work for one horse or more
The downside of Round Bale Hay Nets
- There is a learning curve to putting the net on the bale. Be sure to approach your first try prepared to laugh rather than cuss.
- You must remove the nasty hay on the bottom or outside of the bale before putting on the net.
- Horses will not be amused for the first 24 hours. After that they’ll love it.
My husband and I tried to think of more negatives but couldn’t. Be prepared to roll the hay bale when putting on the net. Bale nets come with different methods for securing the ends. Regardless of which you chose the part where the net is secured needs to be under the bale to keep horses from messing with it. Some nets have a purse string system. We just happened to get one with ties and got creative from there.
Use a Hay ring with your Haynet
The image used above is from Texas Haynet and shows a netted bale in a ring. The hay ring I recommend is plain without dividers.
Those uprights look like leg-breakers to me. The ring we use is like this blue one.
Even in the mud my husband and I are able to roll a bale over to protect the tied ends. If we can do it so can most of you. If you have one horse and use square bales there are also nets for them.
Round Bale Hay Net Resources
If you only have a couple of horses you can reduce your costs even more by placing your round bale under a cover and cut your hay loss to almost zero. There are quite a few videos on You Tube showing the use of round bale nets.
Choose whatever net you like. Here are a variety of resources to look at. Once you cut your hay costs you’ll have a few extra pennies to buy carrots…
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Filed Under: Horses and Other Critters