One of the most common questions we get asked from our customers is "Can you please tell me the difference between knotted and knotless and which material is better?"
Knotted Hay Nets
My answer to this question is that we initially started with the knotted netting in 2011 and had these for 8 years. Back in the days of cutting out individual sizes from huge rolls of netting and sitting there hand-weaving the edges together and feeding the drawstring through.... wow, how far we have come!! We originally started with 36ply, then upgraded to 48ply, and finally, 60ply where we are quite satisfied with the strength and longevity. We are still very happy with the performance and longevity of these nets. Personally, I am getting 2 to 6 years out of a knotted hay net, which of course was requiring some repairs by the end of this time.
Our knotted nets are made from UV-stabilized 60ply, pre-stretched polyethylene netting.
They are tough, durable, and easily repairable if your net, unfortunately, becomes snagged or gets a hole in it. Our knotted 60ply netting has been used by 1000’s of Horses over many years.
It is now only available in Black (we did have green at one time).
Comes in a range of Hole Sizes including 3cm, 4cm and 6cm.
Knotless Hay Nets
In the winter of 2019, we started to trial the knotless nets. Starting with 4cm as the only option, these soon proved to be popular so we added 3cm to our range. After that 6cm and finally, we are now offering a full range of 2cm nets due to the interest in this size. Believe it or not, we have the odd customer requesting 1cm, but we won't be going there anytime soon.
My own knotless are just going over 3 years of age and I personally still haven't had to do a repair yet.
We are super impressed with the performance and softness of these nets since we introduced them in 2019.
Our deluxe knotless nets are exactly that, they are deluxe. They are super soft (no knots), made from 5mm thick and high-strength PP (polypropylene).
Super-strong 240ply, the strongest on the Australian market. Our deluxe knotless is fast becoming the most popular Hay Nets available.
They are also only available in Black.
Come in a range of Hole sizes including 2cm, 3cm, 4cm and 6cm.
Which is Stronger?
While asking which netting material is better, another common question I get is which hay nets last longer?
To be honest, we haven't found either material to be stronger than the other. They are pretty well on par with each other. That being said, we have only had the knotless for 3 years and I personally haven't had a hole yet.
Although not a common occurrence... from our experience, if a horse does, unfortunately, put a hole in a knotless net then we advise the owner to try knotted and if a horse puts a hole in a knotted hay net then we tell the owner to try a knotless net. For some reason, some horses gel with one material, and others gel with the other material. There is no way to work out which material will suit your horse better other than trialing one, or both materials. At the end of the day, if 500kg wants to destroy something, it will!
As mentioned, I personally have knotted nets that have lasted 2 to 6 years, and my knotless nets are now 3 years old I haven't repaired them yet, so it is an unknown factor at this point just how long the knotless are expected to last. I use my nets 24 hours a day - 365 days a year.
If comparing PLY’s across Hay Net suppliers, caution must be exercised as the materials are VERY different, PLY's are different and manufacturers are different. The reason being is that PLY’s are not standardized across all manufacturers and materials. For example, you could have a higher PLY (number of strands), but if each strand is very thin then the ultimate result will be a thinner netting material. One advertiser could be selling 78ply, which could be the equivalent to our 60ply.
Another way to approach comparison may be the diameter of the material. Our 60ply Knotted material is approximately 2.9mm in diameter, and the Deluxe Knotless is approximately 4-5mm (it can vary slightly between production runs). The width of the material does not also mean it is stronger but merely that they are different materials.
Both varieties have performed very well and have proven to be tough, durable, and long-lasting.
Knotted pros and cons
When choosing whether to purchase Knotted or Knotless it really comes down to personal preference. For more information on our knotted and knotless nets, please click here.
They are made of 2 entirely different materials. The knotted is a fishing net material that is great if you are soaking hay or the net will get wet as it doesn’t take on the weight of water. The knotless is a softer material that will take on a little bit of water, therefore weigh more if used to soak with. That being said, we have customers who are using them to soak with without issue.
Tried and tested as we have been making and selling them for the last 11 years.
Strong and Durable.
Generous sized which means easy to use for the life of the net. If the hay nets are too hard to fill with small mouths, then it's typical of human nature that we stop using the nets due to them being difficult to fill. The only exception here is the extra small hay nets that only hold one biscuit of hay. Obviously, they cannot have a wide mouth since they are only a small hay net.
We have Vets and Equine Dentists as customers. I recently spoke with someone who works a lot with an equine dentist and she said damage happens to the front incisors (especially in IR Horses and Ponies) from them walking around chewing at the gritty dirt and grabbing every last morsel of possible food and that the slow feeders are more likely to have saved the horses teeth, not harm them. This makes sense, otherwise, we would be hearing negative stories about this all the time of damage to teeth, which we don't.
Another thing to note too is that Pony teeth have softer teeth than horse teeth. IR (insulin resistant/metabolic) horses and ponies are definitely the type of horse that would do this type of grazing at dirt level to get every last piece of possible grass at ground level (Having had 3 myself, I personally know this). So although it is a slightly harder material, there are no problems with this from the horse's perspective. That being said, if you still had concerns, you may decide to go to the knotless range of hay nets.
Teeth CAN be damaged if people use metal grid/mesh type of hay feeders.
Slightly harder material (netting), however, we have discussed this above.
A very small (<0.5%) amount of horses learn to grind the knots in their teeth which give the possibility of making a hole. For these horses, we suggest knotless nets. However, if your horse has no problem with the knotted nets and you have used them for years, then there is no need to change to the knotless nets.
As mentioned, I have been using these hay nets with my own horses 24/7 for 11 years. One of my horses made it to 32 and another is 26. Both of these used the hay nets in their senior years. An Equine Dentist visits my horses yearly and to date has never had any issue with my horse's teeth or seen anything outside the "norm" from his other client's horses.
Knotless pros and cons
Our knotless range of hay nets is proving very popular. For further discussion and photos of them in action, please click here.
The knotless are more for people if anything because they are soft, it makes them feel nicer that the horses are eating from softer nets (despite the fact horses chew on bark, wood, etc). So they are more a warm/fuzzy feeling hay net for humans! 😉
They are the same size and dimensions as our original GutzBusta knotted nets, meaning our nets are generous in size, easy to use and fill. Obviously the extra small has smaller mouth due to it's extra small size! The Mediums at this point are the only nets that are different from our knotted nets in that they are a little smaller, but will still hold a generous 4 biscuits of hay/half a small bale.
Teeth and Gums:
As mentioned, we have Vets, Equine Nutritionists, and Equine Dentists as customers. For anyone who has ever owned metabolic horses, then hay nets are a godsend.
Pony teeth have softer teeth than horse teeth. IR horses and ponies are definitely the type of horse that would do this type of grazing at dirt level to get every last piece of possible grass or forage and therefore are more likely to damage their front incisors from this type of grazing. Having had 3 myself, I personally know this drive that these horses have to scavenge for any possible food (hence why I started making hay nets in the first place).
Three things that do need mentioning for consideration are:
These are heavier nets due to the material used. This isn't a concern in the smaller nets such as extra small up to large, but in the round bales, these nets are much heavier. They are still manageable, but it is a consideration. However, once the hay net is thrown over the bale, it is still very easy to pull the netting down to ground level. An example of the weight difference is that a knotted 4cm 6x4 round bale net is 4.5kg, whereas a knotless of the same size is around 8.1kg.
The other thing to consider is that the knotless is more of a 'material' type of netting, therefore if used for soaking hay in they will take on some weight of the water. If you are arthritic or have a condition where you don't want any extra weight when soaking, then going with knotted nets might be a better option for you if you are using the nets to soak hay with.
Another thing to consider is that if the hay is full of small seed heads, then some of these may get stuck in the knotless nets. We have native pasture hay and this did happen, but eventually, the seed heads come out or deteriorate so wasn't really isn't a huge problem. The nets just don't look as 'pretty', but net functionality isn't compromised.
I think that almost anyone who has used a hay net with their horses successfully will champion the belief that any small shortcomings or disadvantages are quickly cancelled by the huge amount of health and mental health benefits and as an aid to managing feeding time better, from using slow-feed hay nets.