Part 3 of our 3 Part Blog Series on the versatility of a GutzBusta Hay Net.
In January 2022, we made some pasture hay due to the large amount of rain we had in Spring. Not knowing what the sugar content and palatability would be for our ponies, we started with a 3cm - 6x4 Knotted Round Bale on a 4x4 round bale of pasture hay which consisted primarily of Warrego native grass, Phalaris and Cocksfoot. We put this on the bale, and totally encapsulated the bale, then had the drawstring edge up on top of the bale. That way I could throw the drawstring up over the top rail of our shelter and also untie and open the net up if needed. We placed this bale on a pallet, so it is off the ground.
Since they were eating this just fine from the windrows I collected from the paddock, I thought the palatability would be just fine as they seemed to eat it well from there, however my assessment of palatability was wrong.
This turned out to be a good decision to have the drawstring upwards because after a few days, it was evident that the palatability wasn't there due to low consumption so I therefore assumed since we cut the paddock in the morning, that the sugar content was also low. So I next changed the netting on the bale to a 4cm net.
The quickest way to to this was simply untie the drawstring from the overhead rail and open up the mouth of the the hay net. I then pulled all the 3cm netting down around the circumference of the bale so it was about 15cm above the ground. I then threw the 4cm net over the top of the bale and pulled this netting down to ground level.
Then I put drawstring edges of the netting over the lip of the pallet, pulled the drawstring taught thereby securing the hay bale inside the net.
We tried this for a week and I still wasn't really happy with the eating rate of the hay, so time for a 6cm 4x4 Knotless round bale hay net.
Finally I got the desired result, the hay was steadily eaten and we still saved hay as the hay was within the confines of the net. By this time I had gotten around to actually getting the hay tested.
No wonder they weren't eating the hay quickly, it only tested 3.4% high in sugar. By adding the ESC and starch together from the hay test gives you the sugar content of the hay. For IR, metabolic and / or laminitic horses and ponies, feeding them hay that is 10% sugar or less is ideal. Therefore I have no concerns with my ponies having 24/7 access to this hay as I know they will not put on too much weight (lower protein), nor will it make them laminitic.
I used to get my hay tested by Equi-analytical in the USA, however I now get it done in Australia with Feed Central. The following are the test results from this hay. As you can see, the protein is only 7% and ESC 2.73 + Starch 0.67 = 3.4% total sugars, which is very, very safe hay, hence why palatability was an issue however it is perfect hay for ponies and laminitis prone horses.
A copy of our hay test results so you can see what is tested. ESC + Starch gives total sugar/carbohydrate levels of the hay. Under 10% is optimal for at risk or overweight horses and ponies.
This is a great illustration of hay type alone can be a very big factor when choosing a hole size and why you may have to make adjustments when you purchase a hay net if you are not happy with the consumption rate, be that too quite or too slow. We have some excellent information on other factors to consider when deciding what size hay net hole to choose here.
Sometimes it can be impossible to get round bales, but you may own a round bale hay net and want the benefit that round bales provide by allowing you to put out a bulk amount of hay at any one time. Don't worry, you can still use your round bale hay net to store a bulk amount of hay with small bales instead.
The following photos show a few different ways that we have done this ourselves or our customers have done. I haven't actually measures how many small bales fit into each size hay net, but as a rough estimate, I would think you would get 6 to 8 small bales in a 4x4 round bale net, 8 to 10 in a 5x4 net and probably about 10 to 12 in a 6x4 round bale net. In a large export sized net - 8x3x4 / 8x4x4 you would also get 10-14 small bales.
Another example of hanging a round bale net from a tree and filling with small bales of hay.
Multiple compressed bales also work well to be placed into a round bale hay net.
Hay rings and hay nets in combination are simply awesome to help slow down the feeding rate and save on wastage.
Using our 4-wheeler and trailer, I opened up a 4x4 round bale net fully over the trailer. Then I could easily add 5 bales of hay (of differing types and sugar levels) into the hay net. Next I pulled up all the edges of the netting and took up the slack and tied off the end of the drawstring to secure the hay within the net. I then undid the simple knot at the end of the drawstring so that there was no rope loop for feet or hooves to get caught in.
Here I spread the hay net in the tree and then threw bales of hay into the net. I then pulled up the drawstring and then secured the hay net to the tree. This worked great as there was a slightly more dominant horse in the herd and this gave her mates plenty of places to eat from while being 'safe'.
This is part 3 of our 3 part Blog on just how versatile a GutzBusta Hay Net is and can offer so many ideas and solutions for managing your horses and livestock.
The sky is the limit with so many ways to feed your horse or pony. Only limited by your imagination. We love to hear our customers stories on the many ways they have found our GutzBusta Hay Nets help them in managing their horses and livestock easier, so please send us your stories via email - email@example.com, text 0418 282 097 or on Facebook or Instagram.