hay nets for horses?

Asked February 15, 2016, 1:06 PM EST

Is it better for horses to eat from hay nets hanging high in a stall or from the stall floor? What are the health risks of these nets? The health risks of horses eating with heads in the air. Thanks

Riverside County California

2 Responses

Hi -- this is going to be one of those questions that someone else may answer very differently. I will try to present both sides of the issues and give you enough info for you to be able to make your own decision.

Advantages of hay nets: reduces hay waste and expense; allows close monitoring of appetite and intake; can tightly control amount fed; can use hay nets with small openings to keep horses busy longer so they are less bored; reduces ingestion of dirty (i.e. manure contaminated) hay and therefore certain parasite eggs. Horses with hay nets are probably LESS apt to choke on hay because their rate of hay intake will be slowed down significantly.

Disadvantages of hay nets: danger of entanglement and injury especially for horses that are unattended for long periods; dust and debris can more easily get in horse's eyes and respiratory tract; tough material of hay net can injure lips and gums; "unnatural" angle for head and neck for eating (though this may not have any consequences); may not provide enough hay for horses left unattended for long periods (though one could use more than one hay net).

There you have it-- something to be said for both sides. I think a manger is a happy compromise: less hay waste than feeding on the floor, a more natural eating angle, and no danger of getting tangled up in a hay net.

Best wishes,

Thank you! I like how you presented both sides. Great job