Thursday, April 19, 2012

Round Bale Feeder Design Affects Hay Waste and Economics - Full Article

By Dr. Kathleen Crandell · February 13, 2012

Using round-baled hay is attractive to horse owners because this forage form is less labor-intensive, more convenient, and less expensive than feeding hay in square bales. Some of the drawbacks are excessive hay waste, overconsumption, and weight gain among horses. Several round-bale feeders have been designed to address some of the drawbacks, especially wastage of hay, but to date there have not been any published comparisons.

Researchers in Minnesota conducted an experiment that would measure hay wastage from nine round-bale feeders of differing designs as well as the economics of how long it would take before the feeder would pay for itself in savings related to less wasted hay.

Twenty-five mature Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred mares and geldings with free-choice access to water and a trace-mineralized salt block were fed orchardgrass round bales in nine different commercial round-bale feeders. To test the feeders, the horses were divided into groups of five and then exposed to one of nine different round-bale feeders, or the control of no feeder, for four days. When the horses were switched to a different feeder, they received a new round bale. During the time each group was housed with the hay in the feeder, all the hay on the ground was collected daily, and at the end of four days all the hay left in the feeder was dried and weighed...

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