Almost two years ago, I fabricated a couple of these barn-wall feeders. In the comments after that post you'll see info from Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch and Paddock Paradise on her past research into slow feeding methods. It was these sites and Sarah's posts at Food for Founder that inspired my first efforts at slow-feeding. (Sarah, or dp--dangerous penguin--is also probably the person who started me on the road to blogging.)
|It was nice because I could feed from inside the barn--in one case, straight from the haystack.|
|The girls all did pretty well with these feeders.|
But they have a couple of drawbacks:
- First, the girls have to twist their necks a bit to access the hay;
- Also, their noses get sort of grubby looking from rubbing on the galvanized screen;
- The mesh is a little big: 3" by 3"--optimal for slow feeding is 2" by 2" or less;
- Last, the horses' polls get dripped on from the overhanging roof above the feeders. (This last will be remedied, hopefully this next summer, when the last wing of the barn is added.)
So when this box arrived from Arizona Sports Equipment a few weeks ago, it was time for the next generation of EvenSong slow feeders.
|(PanKake wonders what's in the box...)|
|(...down to investigate.)|
|("The dog will never find me here!")|
I purchased 16 feet of 60 inch wide hockey goal netting, thinking to do one big feeder for Kate and Maddie, and a smaller one for Misty. Then I decided to allow Maddie a little relief from Kate's bossiness, so I cut the netting in three equal pieces. The strands are actually woven together, making a very strong mesh, that I couldn't even hope to unravel when I tried. I melted the ends where I cut, as well as reinforcing the heat seal at the two manufacturer's ends, just to be sure.
I had hoped to hang the netting from the factory edge, but it stretches better the other direction. I wrapped the mesh over the second rail of a fence panel, and wove baling twine through to secure it; then I repeated the process with the other end on the next rail down--leaving an open gap between. Then baling twine to close the sides, and secure them to the vertical stays of the panel.
|Maddie says "I'm ready!"|
|Each "hay pillow" holds two generous flakes, and there is still a bit left at the next feeding (12 hours). I just drop the hay in from the outside of the panel, between the two horizontal rails to which the netting is attached.|
|These little wispy mouthfuls more closely mimic the rate of eating in grazing--resulting in a slower, more natural consumption. The hay lasts longer, and less boredom ensues.|
I haven't put together the last one for Misty yet. My debate is whether to put it in place of the current galvanized feeder, thereby avoiding the dirty nose and twisty neck issues, but still having the drips on her head. Or I could put it on a panel of her paddock, requiring carrying hay outside to it, as I already have to do with the girls. When the new wing is added to the barn (again, hopefully next summer), there will be three run-ins and three paddocks, so feeding over that wall will be really quick and easy with the nets build into the wall.