The effect of hay net design on rate of forage consumption when feeding adult horses

Emily C. Glunk, Marcia R. Hathaway, Wanda J. Weber, Craig C. Sheaffer, Krishona L. Martinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Modern horse management systems tend to limit a horse's opportunity to forage. The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of hay net design on the rate of forage consumption when feeding horses. Eight adult horses were fed in individual stalls in a replicated Latin square design, with two horses per treatment per week. Horses were fed hay off the stall floor (control), or from one of three hay nets: large (15.2 cm openings), medium (4.4 cm openings), and small (3.2 cm openings). Horses had access to hay for two 4-hour periods each day. When horses could not consume all forage from the medium and small hay nets in 4hours, a second study using a crossover design gave horses an unlimited amount of time to feed from the hay nets. Stopwatches were used to calculate time to consumption and dry matter intake rates (DMIR). Mean time to consumption was 3.1and 3.4hours for the control and large hay net, respectively, in study 1, and 5.1 and 6.5hours for the medium and small hay nets, respectively, in study 2. Mean DMIR during the 4-hour feeding period were 1.5, 1.3, 1.1, and 0.9kg/hr for the control, large, medium, and small hay nets, respectively; all treatments were different (P < .0001). These results demonstrate that hay nets were effective at decreasing the rate of forage consumption when feeding adult horses. Long-term studies are warranted to determine if horses will adapt to feeding from hay nets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)986-991
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Minnesota Equine Research Center , the Minnesota Racing Commission , and the Minnesota Agricultural Experimental Station .

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Dry matter intake rate
  • Hay
  • Hay net
  • Horse
  • Time to consumption


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