Pinch pennies and limit allergen exposure with these round bale management tips!
With hay prices on the rise, you may be looking for ways to limit hay wastage this winter. If feeding round bales, utilizing a hay net can help. Recent research from Dr. Krishona Martinson and the University of Minnesota Extension indicates that using a hay net such as the Cinch Net had a 6% wastage versus up to 57% wastage with no feeder at all. Furthermore, the study indicated that the Cinch Net paid for itself in less than one month. Other types of feeders also had significantly less wastage, such as the Waste Less feeder; however the payback on that would take approximately 8 months due to its higher purchase price. It is recommended that the Cinch Net should be used with another type of feeder to prevent horses from stepping on it once the bale begins to collapse down. However, no injuries occurred during the 20 day study period.
From a health standpoint, utilizing a hay net helps reduce the amount horses are able to burrow their heads into the hay bale. Having their heads stuck in a hay bale all day can expose horses to an increased amount of environmental allergens such as dust and mold which can contribute to certain allergic conditions like heaves or Recurrent Airway Obstruction. Horses with heaves may display symptoms such as coughing, increased respiratory effort or increased abdominal exertion, along with flaring nostrils. Please call your veterinarian if you notice these clinical signs.
The Cinch Net can be purchased from http://www.cinchchix.com/.
Read Dr. Martinson’s paper at http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/nutrition/selecting-a-round-bale-feeder/.
Dr. Megan Slamka, DVM