Slow Feeders For Horses: The Complete Guide

Slow feeders for horses have transformed equine care. They meet the natural grazing desire. They promote better feeding techniques.

Slow feeders for horses have transformed equine care. They meet the natural grazing desire. They promote better feeding techniques. Reduced hay consumption has become the goal of these specialist feeders, which are available in various configurations such as nets, bags, or specially designed containers. Small apertures or mesh minimize the intake rate, encouraging a more leisurely and organic eating habit.

Not only can slow feeders help avoid problems like obesity and colic, but they also help horses’ digestion, absorption of nutrients, and oral health. They are an affordable and ecologically responsible option for horse owners since they significantly decrease hay waste. Further improving the general well-being of stabled horses is slow feeders’ ability to relieve boredom.

A comprehensive approach to horse care that emphasizes the horses’ natural habits and long-term health is in line with slow feeders, an essential component of contemporary equine management. Acknowledging the beneficial effects of these instruments on their horses’ physical and emotional well-being, many horse owners include them in their feeding regimens.

What Is A Horse Slow Feeder?

Slow Feeders For Horses

All a horse slow feeder does is cover the hay with a net, polyester net panels, or any other covering that lets your horse eat steadily and slowly. Hay may be stored in metal bins, large square or circular bales of hay can be encircled with netting, and several other alternatives are available for horse slow feeders. A horse may consume hay for extended periods using slow-feed hay feeders, which minimize hay waste to an absolute minimum. In summary, a slow feeder for horses helps to replicate the steady foraging behavior of horses by reducing the amount of food they consume. Even the prevention of horse colic may benefit from using an elevated slow feeder.

The Benefits of Slow Feeders for Horses 

Before warning you about potential hazards, we’ll begin by outlining some of the best reasons for horses to use slow feeders. Let’s be clear, though: there are a lot more advantages to horse slow feeders than drawbacks. 

1. Organic Feeding Patterns

This is a significant advantage. Horses graze on vast stretches of grassland for many hours each day in their natural environment. On the other hand, a domesticated horse these days frequently remains stable and fed only sometimes throughout the day. This is against a horse’s regular eating habits, which may have detrimental effects that we’ll discuss later. 

Horse slow feeders offer the solution to this issue since they allow horses to munch whenever they choose organically or perhaps around the clock. Your horse will benefit from improved digestion and general relaxation as a consequence. 

2. A Boredom Remedy

Does your equine suffer from boredom? There’s no better way to keep him busy than to have him munching hay. A hay slow feeder helps alleviate boredom in horses, which may become deadly when bored. 

3. Stress Reducer

Horses experience anxiety, like many other animals, and this may hurt their general health and well-being. If a horse can only eat at certain times, it might feel under pressure to eat a lot during those mealtimes, which could induce stress and anxiety. Your horse may develop stall wandering, crib-biting, weaving, or stomach ulcer syndrome if mealtimes are not regular.

Alternatively, since your horses are just nibbling on tiny quantities of food at a time, a slow-feed hay feeder will enable them to eat continually throughout the day, whenever they choose, without worrying about overeating.  It’s a fantastic idea to start reading this article, which covers many additional benefits of utilizing a slow feeder with your horses. 

Some Cautions

Some caveats often accompany great ideas and technological advancements. Thus, before buying an equine slow feeder, be aware of these risks. 

1. Steel or metal grating

Your horse may have oral problems due to steel grates or metal slow feeder mesh around the hay. See this page for further details on the types of slow feeders unsuitable for your horse’s teeth’ health. 

2. Position for Eating

Haynets are great slow feeders for hay, but if they need to be appropriately positioned on a post, fence, or other structure, they may need to be fixed. Your horse’s posture may be better if the slow feed hay feeder net is too high since horses do not usually graze with their heads pointing upward. This posture could also negatively affect your horse’s safety system.

3. Cautions about Safety

Haynets seem to be the primary source of risk regarding horse slow feeders. Maintaining the haynet far above the ground is one precaution to consider. A leg break or horseshoe tear might occur from your horse tangled in the haynet if it is too near to the ground.

Slow Feeder Types

Slow Feeders For Horses,Slow Feeder Types

Hay Net Slow Feeders

Hay bags and traditional hay nets are different from slow-feeder nets. Significant gaps in traditional hay nets make it easy to ingest hay. The apertures of slow feeders, however, are much smaller. Slow feeders with 1.5–1.75-inch holes work well for a full-sized horse. Smaller holes might frustrate the horse, making it quit eating. The ideal hole size will reduce consumption without becoming annoying. 

Buying a slow feeder from a reliable manufacturer is advisable rather than attempting to create one yourself. The heavy-duty cloth used to make commercial slow feeders is resistant to ripping and fraying. Your horse is less likely to be in danger if these slow feeders break apart.  Slow feeders are available in several capacities, ranging from a few flakes to a whole round bale. Many feeders may seem mounted low on a wall, tree, or sturdy post. A few were meant for use placed on the ground. 

Hard Slow Feeders

In addition to hay nets or bags for slow feeders, several rugged, slow feeders are on the market. If you prefer this kind of feeder, get one composed of durable plastic or hard rubber that can withstand weather conditions and normal wear and tear. Purchasing a rugged slow feeder from a reliable vendor is preferable to building one yourself.  

Typical designs for hard, slow feeders include:

  • Hay baskets with an attached detachable plastic basket mounted on a circular aluminum frame
  • Feeders have a barrel or box-like design.

Rugged slow feeders have the advantage of being more accessible to fill and storing more hay than certain hay nets. Thus, they can refill less often.

Bale Round Slow Feeders

For usage with enormous round bales, several businesses have created slow feeders. Round bales may sometimes result in hay waste, but these feeders help minimize this by slowing the horse’s eating. Additionally, using a slow feed round bale feeder, horses may avoid sticking their heads within the bale and inhaling dust, which can cause respiratory conditions like equine asthma.

Rounded bale Hard-style feeders, which reduce hay waste using round bales, differ from slow feeders; they sometimes slow down the pace of hay consumption.

Using Slow Feeders: A Guide

Slow Feeders For Horses,Using Slow Feeders: A Guide

Use two smaller feeders per horse whenever possible and place them in different areas of the pasture, paddock, or stall.  Place the feeders as far apart as possible to promote mobility and reduce conflict among herd members.  Lay loose hay on the ground around the feeder if introducing a slow feeder to your horse for the first time. This will help them become used to it. Some horses need a longer time, but most horses may get used to using the slow feeder in a few days. 

When utilizing slow feeders for the first time, be careful to watch for symptoms of displeasure. Try a feeder with larger apertures or even a new type if the horse is pawing at it, getting hay out of it, or refusing to eat. 

Be Wary of Slow Feeders

A common material used to make hay net slow feeders is robust and unbreakable cording, which might be dangerous for horses wearing shoes. Place the hay net inside a container, such as an old water trough or solid feeder, to prevent this issue.  Owners of horses should understand that using slow feeders carries some danger. For example, metal grates on rugged feeders may harm teeth. 

Regularly check slow feeders to ensure they endure wear and strain and are not falling apart. A horse that swallows loose cording may have intestinal issues. Setting down slow feeders or securing them in a low-lying area is essential. This enables the horse to chew more by their physiology—with their head down.

Hay net placement that is too high up might cause physical pain and breathing issues. Eating with their heads down is less stressful on the skeletal system, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. 


Using a slow feeder is an intelligent technique to guarantee your horse has access to hay all day long while avoiding overeating. Prolonging the period of foraging may lower the incidence of colic, ulcers, and behavioral problems. Make sure your horse is getting the right kind and size of the slow feeder by selecting: A bigger hole size is required for full-size horses than for ponies or miniature horses.

While slow feeders benefit many horses, they may not provide enough hay for underweight horses, elderly horses with poor teeth, or horses requiring more energy. Loss of weight and other issues may result from this. Free-choice feeding is the best option for these horses. Slow feeders should be set down on the ground or at a low position to be used securely. As a result, your horse will be able to feed head-down, which is ideal for chewing, producing saliva, and avoiding neck and body strain.