<P>36 MAY 2014 Q-RACING JOURNAL restrictive (i.e. Waste Less, Cinch Net, Hayhut and Covered Cradle) resulted in less hay waste. Feeders that provided greater access to hay (Hay Sleigh, Ring and Tombstone) resulted in more waste, but there were no significant differences in hay waste among the circular feeders (Tombstone, Tombstone Saver, Cone and Ring). Horse owners have to consider how much theyre willing to spend because there is a big variety in the cost of feeders – although all of the feeders paid for themselves in a relatively short period of time, Martinson said. And, too, one of the big things to consider is do you want your hay covered? Three of the feeders do provide a covering for the hay. If youre in an area where it really rains a lot, having that cover might be just as important as the amount of waste thats saved or how much the feeder costs. People also probably should consider the number of horses that can feed off each feeder, she continued. I dont think there is an ideal number of horses to have on a round bale feeder. If you have two horses, they probably cant eat that round bale fast enough and there is probably going to be some spoilage just from the environment and from rainfall. And if there are too many horses, some arent going to get their share. I dont know what the magic number is, but I would like to see that round bale consumed within a week so there isnt secondary spoilage just from sitting out unprotected in the environment. Another factor is that the hay waste without a feeder also contributes to mud, insect breeding areas and the additional cost of manure removal. There is absolutely no reason you wouldnt use a feeder, Martinson said. It doesnt really matter what feeder you use – you just have to use a feeder. If you are concerned about your horse getting injured, pick the one you believe your horse wont get injured on. That 57 percent waste number – we never thought it would be that high. Ever, Martinson concluded. So when you look at that number, you just cant afford to not use a feeder. Richard Chamberlain is senior writer for AQHA Publications. To comment, write to richc@aqha.org. surrounding the feeder was considered waste and was col- lected each morning, with care to avoid collection of manure and dirt. Hay remaining in the feeder at the end of each four- day period was removed. Hay disappearance was calculated as the amount of hay delivered to each paddock, less the remain- ing amount of hay in the feeder at the end of the four-day period, and percent waste was calculated as the amount of hay waste divided by hay disappearance. Comparisons of the cost efficiency of various feeders originally was based on round bales of coastal Bermuda grass and alfalfa hay at $100 per ton. However, because of the skyrocketing cost of hay due to drought and other factors, Martinson recent- ly re-evaluated the cost efficiency at $200 per ton. The Feeders THE STUDY TESTED NINE DIFFERENT FEEDERS, PLUS A CONTROL, to see what researchers could learn. Three of the feeders resemble what most horsemen might consider a typical round bale feeder ring. The Ring, Tombstone and Tombstone Saver were variations of a solid metal ring that circled the hay, with two of them having additional bars on top to separate the horses heads. A fourth feeder (the Cone) used this basic design, but also had a solid ring above the metal bars to cover more of the hay, and a fifth feeder (the Hay Sleigh) was simply a welded metal basket with no other solid structure. Three of the feeders added a roof to protect the hay. Two (the Covered Cradle and Waste Less) were based on welded pipe designs, while the Hayhut was a solid plastic structure. The final product used in the testing was a slow-feeder netting, which comes in a diamond-shaped design resembling hockey netting, called a Cinch Net. Money and Effort MARTINSON NOTES THAT SOME HORSE OWNERS REPORT EXCESSIVE hay waste and horse weight gain from horses feeding on round bales. With waste from large round bales occurring during both storage and feeding, dry matter storage losses can range from 2 to 40 percent, depending on type of forage, storage method, environment and storage length. No injuries occurred from any feeder types during the data collection period, though cosmetic rub marks appeared on the sides of faces on many horses feeding out of the Waste Less feeder. After two days of feeding off the Cinch Net, the round bale collapsed down and horses were able to stand and defecate on the remaining hay, so researchers recommend using the Cinch Net in conjunction with another feeder to avoid horse access as the bale collapses. I think all horse owners have different objectives when it comes to feeding and managing their horses, Martinson said. People are very concerned about horse safety, and one of the concerns about using a round bale feeder is that the horse is going to get hurt or get a halter or blanket stuck on the feeder and cause problems. And we all know that horses can injure themselves very easily. A lot of people say the poly ring feeder – just a black circle – looks like the safest one because if the horse jumps in, he can jump out. But during our study, we didnt observe any injuries, although it was for a relatively short period of time. Hay waste differed among round-bale feeder designs, though all feeders reduced waste compared to the no-feeder control (see the chart on Page 37). Feeders that were more Krishona Martinson, Ph.D., was raised on a dairy farm at Colfax, Wisconsin. She completed her Bachelor of Science in agronomy and agriculture business from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, and her Master of Science and doctorate in agronomy from the University of Minnesota, where since 2008, she has been the equine Extension specialist. Her applied research program focuses on improving equine forage use. Krishona was awarded the Equine Science Societys Outstanding Young Professional Award in 2011. She is an AQHA life member, and along with her husband and daughters, raises Hereford beef cattle and shows American Quarter Horses in speed-event classes. Conducting the round-bale feeder study with Kirshona were Dr. J. Wilson; K. Cleary; W. Lazarus, Ph.D.; W. Thomas, Ph.D.; and M. Hathaway, Ph.D. The study was funded by a grant from the Minnesota Horse Council, manufacturer fees, and the U of M Undergraduate Research Opportunity program. Experimental procedures were conducted according to those approved by U of M and UW-River Falls committees on animal use and care. The studys factsheet and summary of data can be accessed at www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse /nutrition/selecting-a-round-bale-feeder. 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