I am over 55 and have 4 horses I care for on my property. I am not to the point where I do not want horses--I hope I am not there for many more years but caring for horses has taken a toll on my body. On one hand horses keep me active, happy and healthy. On the other hand horses beat my body up! I have to be careful with my back because years of baling & stacking hay plus mucking stalls has caused excessive strain on my back. My husband and I used to bale and sell hay off of on our 80 acre farm in addition to operating a 25 stall boarding barn. But regardless of a person's history, it becomes harder to care for horses as we get older.
I have been looking for ways to keep me and my horses happy and in a way that is kinder on my body.
Some broad themes I try to adhere to are to are;
- give my horses as much turn out as possible with shelter. They are happier and I don't have as much mucking of stalls to do. No big surprises there.
- adapt equipment- this is where I want to focus.
Feeding ~ Watering ~ Pasture Maintenance
I live in NE Ohio where it is cold and wet for a good bit of the year. I do fantasize about a warm, mild, dry climate but Ohio is what I have. You may need to adapt according to your climate.
A few years ago I tried to implement the Pasture Paradise concept for my horses. At the time I had an OTTB that insisted on running thru or over the temporary interior fence. What more specifically happened is Grin would sail over the temporary fence and the others would follow by plowing thru.
In an ideal world I would do this again....and may still but for now back to the area I want to concentrate on today and that is feeding equipment.
In order to feed outside in a herd situation, the hay must be distributed in such a way that all horses have access. Even in my small herd of 4, I have 2 horses that could easily drop weight if I were not mindful to set it up so they feel they aren't competing against the more dominant horses. BUT to do that adds more distance and mess. Just feeding hay off the ground or from round bales works for some but the downside is you end up with a lot of waste and a muddy mess. The horses end up standing around the round bale in the muddy mess- bad for hooves. Pros: easy Cons: messy, wasteful
I had a hay feeder that I use but don't really like it. I raises the hay up to the horse's eye level which is not the ideal position to feed horses. Pros: less waste and mud (anywhere old hay lays on the ground is also where moisture accumulates.) Cons: feeding position not ideal, lifting hay up into hay rack takes a bit of upper arm strength and can strain a back).
Ground feeding in container (ex. stock tank, low feeder, slow feeders) There are several styles here that range from inexpensive to expensive. I will show a couple examples below.
Large Hay Feeders
This looks sturdy and has ample room for a small number of horses. The rubber mats are a good addition but in my climate would not do much. I am not sure if this is a retail model or one someone designed and built themselves.
|This looks sturdy, and safe. I like the skids so it can be moved in the pasture.|
Another nice, covered round bale feeder. This has collapsible sides to eliminate waste and mess.
These look sturdy, and large enough you could not fill as often if you used small bales or put a round bale in it. It would eliminate some of the mess and waste but are on the expensive end but would last for years.
Above is a Hay Hut which is used can fit round bales. I like the rounded edges. Horses are so prone to cut and hurt themselves. I would consider one of these.
There is no cover but are less expensive and adaptable.
Mid Size Feeders
|This hay feeder is under 200.00 comes in different lengths and heights from Barn World|
I like this because it is lower and appears sturdy. I will have to look closer to see if a hoof could get stuck if someone decides to kick.
|No cover, sturdy, under 500.00 from Priefert|
Small Hay Feeders
|Recycled barrel with a haynet. I like this one. The down side is you would need to fill at least 1 per horse.|
|Good use of an old tire!|
|There are some possibilities here- when I feed on the ground I usually just throw it over the fence. No cover but simple, inexpensive.|
|Like this one too.|
|For those of you with more carpentry skills than me.|
|Add a hay bag so they can't scatter that this is a go!|
I am working thru an idea I have of something I can drag....( much easier than carrying ) but big enough for the days I work 12 hours. I like to be able to move where the horses eat too depending on weather and ground conditions. Will update as I get this more cemented. Please feel free to add what has worked for you in the comments!
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