Dengie questions hay net ‘benefits’

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Dengie logoResearch by a Writtle College student showing that small-holed hay nets do little to prolong feeding times and even cause frustration in some horses has made Dengie Horse Feeds question their effectiveness.
“Members of the nutrition team often advise using this type of net to slow down the rate of forage intake and therefore improve gut health,” said Dengie senior nutritionist Katie Williams, “but the findings suggest that horses are too clever by half and suss out how to eat just as quickly after just 10 minutes of using a small-holed net!”
Lily Crockett conducted a 28-day trial between November and December 2013 using seven horses from Writtle College, near Chelmsford, Essex. They were given hay nets of different designs filled with hay. Each was weighed before the trial and at 10-minute intervals over a 30-minute period.
There was no significant difference in the volume of consumption when comparing a large-holed net (1,357g), small-holed net (1,014g), Elim-a-Net (886g) and double-meshed net (843g).
Similarly, the actual rate of intake was not radically different – the large-holed net was 45g/min, small-holed 34g/min, Elim-a-Net 30g/min and double-meshed 28g/min. However, there was a significant difference during the first 10 minutes between the large-holed net and Elim-a-Net, at 53g/min and 29g/min respectively.
Dengie believes the report’s assertion that hay nets appear to cause frustration in horses reflects a study involving a triple-layered net quoted at the 2014 European Workshop on Equine Nutrition. It suggested that creating multiple feeding stations around the stable was more effective at slowing down horses’ intake.
Katie Williams said: “That and Lily’s study illustrate that short-chopped fibre feeds such as those in Dengie’s Hi-Fi range given as a bucket feed are perfect for feeding alongside hay to create a number of feed points, slowing down intake and encouraging natural feeding behaviour. Giving a horse access to low-starch, low-sugar fibre feeds on an ad-lib basis is a great way to improve gut health and maintain general wellbeing.”

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