Lets your horse eat for longer without eating more
SlowFeeding nets, SMHN, Small Mesh Hay Net
If you want a fool proof, simple and economical Slow Feeding solution I recommend SMHN (Small Mesh Hay Net).
Four things to be aware of though:
1. Give the horse a thorough schooling. A frustrated horse can destroy anything.
2. Don’t ever tie a SMHN in all four corners and don’t stretch it hard. They work best when hanging loose and swinging.
3. It is an enormous difference between different materials and mesh sizes.
4. There are suppliers that strangely enough calls their flat nets round bale nets. Round bale nets should be cylinders.
We are working insistently with development and improvement of both materials and constructions. Many more customers spontaneously contact us to say how great everything works than those who need help with a problem. Incidents might however happen and then it most often is because schooling has gone to fast and a frustrated horse has chewed a hole in the net during the first week. The HD-polyester in our nets are of very high quality (probably highest on the market) and holds up extremely well.
Generation 1 was produced for us in nylon because the ”specialists” said that was the best material. The mesh size was just over 4cm. In real life they absorbed water, became very dirty, froze in the winter and shrunk 10%.
Generation 2 was produced by our selves from a polyester net from a new producer and it lasted longer, did not absorb as much water, did not get as dirty, did not froze as hard in the winter and did not shrink as much.
Generation 3 are we producing from a thicker polyester material with all the good sides from the polyester and 3-4 times as long lived compared to generation 2.
The mesh size is 3,5cm = 1 3/16” and we are very happy (but not satisfied). You should always stretch and measure 5 meshes diagonally and divide the measurement with 10 when you measure mesh size.
We will never stop improving our products and we love to hear your suggestions.
Lack of creativity is the only thing stopping you from finding new ways to use a SMHN.
I do however advice against leaving the directly on the ground due to the risk of getting the hay soiled from the ground or the horses.
Small Mesh Hay Nets can be used both inside and outside. Snow is not a problem and neither is rain as long as we are talking small nets that are refilled relatively often.
If there are trees in the paddock you might be able to hang the SMHN between two of them.
Poles works just fine too.
This stallion has two SlowFeeding SMHN Original size large that lasts him a couple of days. He is a living proof of that harmonic horses do not over eat just because they have continuous access to their hay. He eats for a while and then he sleeps or checks out what is going on in his surrounding.
This even though he only has a boring paddock of 6x10m (18x30’).
Free hanging nets makes it harder for the horse to eat too fast and also to be hard on the net. If you have a horse that even after a month of Slow Feeding still eats too much or too fast this might be a good solution. The same thing goes for if you have a horse that likes to break things.
There is a video in the video library showing a horse eating from a swinging SMHN.
If you are affraid your horse might get tangled in the rope, put the rope through a plastic pipe made for electrical wires.
I’m not the only one that has given up on solid constructions. This horse owner removed the grid from her old Slow Feeder and installed a SMHN in it instead. Just open the lid, slide the broom shafts apart and fill the net.
Can it be easier?
Below even equipped to protect horse shoes from getting tangled.
We produce Slowfeeding SMHN Original in 80 different sizes and models to suit all needs and if our standard nets doesn't do it for you we can produce any size or shape (even round and triagonal even though some say it is impossible). All our nets are made from the same very strong knottless polyester material and with a unique knitting technique that makes them last much longer than ordinary nets. You may choose from tre different mesh sizes:
A = 1 3/16" = 3cm, works well with soft hay, haylage and silage but may cause a problem with coarse hay. Extends the eating times alot but that you can be achieve by hanging nets with larger mesh sizes so they can swing freely too.
B = 1 3/8" = 3½cm, All time favorite and allways recommended if there are no special reasons to choose other mesh size. The only thing better is the 2+ that gives you two mesh sizes to choose from day by day.
C = 1 5/8" = 4cm, Does not restrict how much a horse can eat over 24 hours but minimize waste. Perfect for horses that needs to eat alot.
All our flat nets also come in different mesh combinations (all with patent pending):
2+, one side in mesh size A and the other in mesh size B so you can choose day by day.
Must hang flat on a wall.
2++, one side in mesh size B and the other in mesh size C so you can choose day by day.
Must hang flat on a wall.
2+++, one side in mesh size A and the other in mesh size C so you can choose day by day.
Must hang flat on a wall.
3+, three layer of net creating two compartments for hay (main corse and desert). The hay in the first compartment is eaten through 1 layer of net and the second compartment is eaten through 2 layers of nets which makes it much more time consuming. By turning this net in side out you can create 15 different combinations of net orders (AhBhC, AhChB, BhAhC, BhChA, ChAhB, ChBhA, ABhC, AChB, BAhC, BChA, CAhB, CBhA, AhBC, BhCA, ChAB. "h" stand for hay.) and by adjusting the amount of hay in each compartment you will get an infinate number of combinations to make sure that you can decide how long the hay will last. (Must hang flat on a wall.)
Use this to create the perfect solution to make the hay last exactly as long as you want to make sure it never ever will become empty. A horse that has no food believes he will starve to death and that will make him eat even faster and more when he receives hay the next time. This eating stress will eventually disappear when he has forgotten that there is an end to the supply of hay and he will then stop eating when he has had enough. If horses that eat in a natural way and live a decent life could not regulate their own eating the horse would have gone extinct many million years ago.
4+, four layers of net (two mesh size A in the middle and one mesh size B on each side) creating three compartment for hay. Either to be used as a very easy to fill doubled net by only putting hay in the middle compartment or put hay in all three compartments and and serve main corse and desert from two side simultaniously. Can be turned in side out to change the order of the nets.
4++, same as above but with two mesh size B in the middle and one mesh size C on each side.
4+++, same as above but with two mesh size A in the middle and one mesh size C on each side.
Mini. 36”x36” for less than 10 lbs of loose dry hay. Designed for the horse trailer but available in: mesh size A, B, C & 2+, 2++, 2+++, 3+, 4+, 4++ and 4+++ models.
The reason we do not recommend this size for the box stall is because it is much easier to fill size "Small" and you will be filling this every day. If you instead choose size "Small" it will save lots of time and work (it doesn’t matter to the horse though).
Small, 48”x36” for less than 20 lbs of loose dry hay.
This is, by far, the most popular size.
Available in: mesh size A, B, C & 2+, 2++, 2+++, 3+, 4+, 4++ and 4+++ models.
One for each horse. One in the box stall or several in the paddock if there are more horses there. This size is very easy to fill and holds 1 European small bale of 30 lbs or easily 2 IKEA bags bursting full of loose hay. It should be easy and quick to do things you have to do often. There are videos in the video library showing the filling process.
Medium 61"x42" for less than 45 lbs of loose dry hay
Available in: mesh size A, B, C &, 2+, 2++, 2+++, 3+, 4+, 4++ and 4+++ models.
The largest net recommended for the box stall. It is easy to fill and possible to move (if you are strong). For those who want max capacity inside the box. It takes the hay needed for 1 day and 1 night for a full size horse.
This is our own favorite size when it comes to flat nets.
Large, 72”x42” designed to take a 2-, or 3 string bale
Available in: mesh size A, B, C & 2+, 2++, 2+++, 3+, 4+, 4++ and 4+++ models. All the 2+ and the 3+ need to hang flat on a wall.
Where ever there are more than 1 horse or if you want the hay to last more than 1 day. Mesh size A, B, C & the 4+ series works well laying in a container or hanging between 2 (preferably 3) poles in the paddock. The other models need to hang flat on a wall.
There are videos in the video library.
Optimal. 18 lbs loose hay or 45 lbs baled hay.
Available in: mesh size A, B, C.
•Horse shoe safe and with natural eating angles.
•Can be pushed all the way into the corner without being damaged.
•The net can be replaced or doubled to get the hay to last even longer.
•2 layers of net can create 2 layers of hay. The upper layer will then be eaten through 1 layer of net and the bottom layer of hay will be eaten through 2 layers of netting.
•Very easy to refill. Just unhook 1 corner of the the net and fold it to the side.
This is todays premium (tomorrows standard) SlowFeeding solution.
RB140 low. 64" diameter, 62" high.
Fits regular size round bales (4' x 4').
Available in: mesh size A, B, C.
Recommended for use together with plastic feed rings that fit tight around the round bale. As replacements for their standard nets that often are both flat (not cylindrical), more expensive and have larger mesh size.
Also available as "RB 180 low" for bales with a diameter of 6'.
When used without a tight plastic feed ring some horses use a lot of time and energy trying to get their heads in under the net which might give you more work than you enticipated trying to stop them.
RB140 high. Fits a round bale of regular size. The diameter is 68" and the height is 88".
Available in: mesh size A, B, C.
This is without a doubt our most economical Slow Feeding solution. Holds a round bale, a bunch of smaller bales or lots of loose hay. We have many customer saying that they save 50% hay since they started using our round bale nets instead of just opening a round bale in the paddock.
This is the recommended large bale solution.
Also avaiable as "RB 180 high"
for bales with a diameter of 6'.
Spread the bottom of the net where you want the hay, place the hay on top, lift the sides of the net and attach the opening every here and there to a hook you have hang in a rope right above the bale. The rope and hook is only supposed to carry the weight of the net sides not the bale. Don't stretch the net and there is no need to adjust the net later.
Yes, this is how we feed our own ponies (in turn out) and during the 6 months feeding season we use 20 minutes every 3 weeks feeding them, that's it. During these six months the Shetland gelding loses his over weight down to perfect even though he has access to the netted round bale every minute 24/7.
If horses that are eating in natural way and live a decent life could not ballance their eating and weight by them selves they would have gone extinct millions of years before they met their first human.
This net has a diameter 92" and covers a full round bale standing in the middle of the ring for 12 animals.
Available in: mesh size A, B, C.
This is not our favorite large bale solution since it sometimes takes a lot of work to stop horses from trying to get their heads in under the net.
This net also fits square feeders with a side of 6'.
We produce special designs every day so if none of the above standard models looks perfect for you please email a photograph and meassurements of your feeding solution to hq@SlowFeeding.com and we will reply with a design sugestion and a price. We can produce any size and shape and we have lots of experience.
There are many ways to hang a SMHN. The following makes it very easy to fill them.
If you will be using hooks directly in the net it is best to use smooth hooks that will not get tangled.
The small rectangular SMHN are just fine but nothing beats a round bale net when it comes to saving time and work. Do however make sure that the round bale nets you buy are cylindrical.
By using round bale nets for round bales of dry hay and keep them in the shelter I have reduced the time it takes to feed our horses to 20 minute once every third week and there is almost no wasted hay to clean out. This frees up lots of time for things that are more fun than handling hay and feeding horses (like mocking:-).
We have always made sure that our horses (that are on constant turn out) have access to a netted round bale of hay (or straw) even when they don’t need it any more in spring time and also before the grazing is over for the season. During summer grazing season our horses use the darkness of the shelter for protection against mosquitoes. Before we started leaving a netted bale in there all summer they stayed there (without food) until they were extremely hungry. I believe it to be very dangerous for a horse to be hungry when they go out to graze on a lush pasture. Now, with a bale in there, they can nibble hay or straw during the hottest part of the day and when they decide it is time for grazing again they are not very hungry and graze in a moderate tempo.
We never want our horses to experience the net empty because we want them to believe that food grows in the net and the supply is absolutely seamless. If we of some reason need to exchange the round bale before it is all gone (if we do not have time to do it the exact day it runs empty) we move the last part of the bale to another net hanging on the wall and exchange the round bale in good time. This is because we want the horses to forget that the net ever can be empty because that is when the last eating stress disappears and they can leave the bale without being worried.
The reason we use the net from the bottom up and stretch it to the ceiling is because otherwise there is a risk of the horses stepping up on the hay and soil it. You only need to stretch the net (not lift the bale) upwards and you don’t have to redo this later.
Of course you can use the net from the top down too but I do not recommend it because there might be several layers of net laying on top of the hay when there is only little left of the bale and that can make it very difficult for the horses to reach any hay at all.
There are videos on how to dress a round bale both by hand and with a machine in the video library.
We must recognize that there is a theoretical risk for shod horses to get their shoes tangled in the SMHN. Experience does however show that incidents are few and far apart and usually not serious. Those horses that do get in trouble are the same as always does and of course horses that roll around in the box stall. Most horse owners are happy with just hanging the SMHN with the lowest part 70cm (28”) over the floor, tie it with strings that will break if the horses does get tangled or use panic hooks.
If you want to be completely on the safe side please check the suggested solutions I have listed below. All of these solutions works just as good for barefoot horses too, of course.
Using a feeding ring and just through a SMHN over the bale might work in souther Texas where humidity is not much of a problem but not really where I live.
These Mini-Shetlands are said to have a feeder of their own on the other side of a low portal but they prefer to eat with the big guys as long as they reach the hay.
A nice little solution build by our neighbour. A round bale net stretched to the ceiling and filled with small bales.
No risk that their shoes will get tangled.
The side where the Shetland eats is lower than the others but we all know who the boss is.
The inventor of this great solution says that the box needs to be 10cm (4") larger than the bale. This box is 80cm (32") high.
You can place a netted bale in a box like this to separate hooves and net but it might be complicated for the horse to eat when there is only a little hay left since a lot of net then might lay on the hay. It works better if you hang the SMHN on the wall and down in to the box like on the next picture.
Choose the height of the box in consideration to what is needed to keep the hooves on the outside but still low enough not to press on the horse's throat when he reaches for the bottom. If you think a box like this would occupy to much space in the box stall a corner solution like on the next picture might suit you better.
Hang the SMHN on the wall and down behind a board placed in the corner. As long as you don’t choose his favourite corner corners are seldom used any way.