Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Slowly Learning

with 2 comments

DSCN2634eI finished my first slow hay feeder box for our horses yesterday. I wish they had been around when I was placing it under the barn overhang and loading it with hay. The herd was on the far side of the hay-field at the time, happily grazing in the warm winter fog. Later, when the time came for them to come up for the afternoon serving of their feed supplement, surprise sightings of the new box in their space startled the heck out of each one as it came into their view.

If they had been there while I was working on it, they would have been putting their noses all over it in curiosity about what I was up to. I didn’t have time to linger with them, because I had a date planned to get Cyndie to a movie and out grocery shopping for the first time since her surgery. We even ate out at a burger joint to make it feel like a real event. It was a grand success, and she surprised me with her endurance traipsing the food aisles on her feet for the long duration.

I figured the horses might completely avoid the foreign object, but this morning discovered one or more of the brave souls figured out there was hay in there. Overnight there was enough activity to leave scraps on the ground around the box and create divots in the bale beneath the metal grate. Looked to me like one or more of the horses had spent enough time there to get comfortable with it.

We don’t want the horses to become frustrated by this obstructed source of hay, so I will continue to provide it in the existing feeders for now to allow them options. The hope is that this new system will be easy enough for the horses to accept as a pleasing source of grazing that is always available to them.

In that regard, I felt there was something wrong with my method after inspecting the results of their progress after one night. It appeared they were only able to make limited headway into the bale, leaving the grate resting high on spots they hadn’t pulled apart. My initial intuition was that I had designed the whole thing wrong, based on the bale positioned with the cut edge to the side.

If I turn the bale 90° so that cut edge is up, it resembles the appearance of growing grass. The ends all point up. It will be easier for them to pull a bite from between the squares, and the grate will be more inclined to drop down as they consume the bale. It seemed to me that would be less frustrating for them. So I tried it.

IMG_iP0703eI immediately discovered a problem in that the bales aren’t symmetrical. When dropped in there on its side, the bale is too tall for the box! Back to the drawing board. That is why I only built one to start. I laid the grate on top and stood there for a while as Legacy took to the sideways bale right away. Eventually Cayenne joined him and they seemed to be having a fine time with it, until the loose grate laying on top suddenly shifted as she pulled aggressively at a bite. It banged the wall and they bolted away in a panic.

The thing is, I may be jumping the gun. I have a couple of thoughts about it now, after giving it some time. I don’t know for sure that the first way wouldn’t work, given enough time. Also, I put an entire bale in there, and maybe it was too tight that way. If there was just a portion of a bale, maybe they could make better headway.

I’m not sure how I will proceed. Maybe if I give them more time, they will teach me what to do. I am slowly learning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 13, 2014 at 11:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. Instead of squares the ones I have seen are slots so their snouts almost fit inbetween. Spring loaded tray you push down to fill then pushes hay up as they eat.

    DRH

    December 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    • Yes, the one I tried (unsuccessfully) to purchase had slots instead of squares. We like the idea of reducing their easy access to slow down their consumption, so that’s why I went with squares. There is a spring-loaded version at Fleet Farm that I looked at. You and I are of similar thoughts!

      johnwhays

      December 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm


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