Hay Feeders Reduce Waste

Horse owners could nearly halve their hay wastage by selecting the right round bale feeder for their pasture, report researchers from the University of Minnesota.

tombstone hay feeder
curtain hay feeder
cone hay feeder

Tombstone, curtain, and cone-style hay feeders were examined in the study.

The team, led by equine extension specialist Krishona Martinson, PhD, examined three different feeders in their preliminary study: the tombstone, the cone, and the curtain. They found that the cone feeder resulted in 8% hay waste, while the tombstone allowed for 15% hay waste.

The curtain feeder, a device that is on a rotation where it remains open for four hours, then closed for two, had 9% hay waste, although the team does not recommend it because its use can result in mane rubbing.

Using no feeder at all results in an estimated 38% hay waste, according to the team.

Based on savings related to prevented waste, the team determined it would take only five months to recoup the costs of the tombstone feeder, 47 months for the curtain, and 22 months for the cone.

The group has now secured funding to test six more feeders this summer. "The feeders we're going to test this summer really encompass all the different designs used by horse owners around the United States, and they range from $189 up to $3,000, so we want to look at the economics of the different choices," said Martinson.

"This information will help horse owners make the best decision on a round bale feeder based on their farm," she added. Martinson said she was prompted to do this project because she received weekly inquiries for feeder recommendations.

About the Author

Liz Brown

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