This fall, I built some slow-feed hay boxes for the horses. Recently I’ve done some upgrades and took the approach I wanted to take in the first place.
Originally I wanted to use a large, pre-made box like a plastic shipping crate, but I couldn’t find one, so I made my own. The ones I made weren’t as large as I wanted, but I made the best of it. Recently I was able to snag a few large, wooden shipping crates from work, so I decided to revamp my design and use the nets from the original boxes.
The boys and the girls have different needs. First I’ll talk about the boys’ box.
I built a frame out of PVC that fit snugly into the box; then I strung the net onto the frame.
Then I put some screw eyes into the corner of the box so that they would hold the frame at a height where the net could sag enough to reach every corner when the box is empty. I tied the frame to the screw eyes on one side and added snaps to the frame on the other. This way, the frame can tilt up to allow the box to be filled.
Here’s the finished product:
They can hold 2 square bales if I pack it very tight. Usually I put a bale and a half in there.
The girls’ design is very similar. Just a few differences. I made an identical frame, but the nets from the girls’ net are the perfect size for the frame, so there is no sag. This means I need to allow the net to fall all the way to the bottom of the box as the horses eat the hay. So I tied the frame to the base of the box with enough slack to allow the net to float on top of the hay when it’s full. Again, I put snaps on one side so it tilts to be filled.
The main difference between the boys and girls is that the girls don’t share like the boys do. Roxie will pin her ears if Faith tries to eat her hay, and Faith is so timid that she will retreat at any sign of ear-pinning. I added a visual barrier to prevent that. Roxie won’t actually run Faith off, so if Faith doesn’t SEE Roxie pin her ears, she’ll actually eat. I used the lid from another crate I snagged from work as a barrier; I put it on hinges to move out of the way when I need to fill it and a snap to keep it in place when it’s used to separate them.
So far it has been working well. The box is tall enough for Piper to reach the very top of the hay when the box is full, but once they eat the top few inches, she can’t reach anymore. I’ll assess the situation over the next few weeks and see if I need to make any adjustments. If another crate becomes available at work, I’ll make another one for the girls so they don’t have to share.
Questions? Let me know!