How Can I Balance the Need to Lose Weight with the Need to Graze?


Julie Thomas
 

Hi,
Bottom Line Up Front:  What can I feed a horse that needs to lose weight so he can "graze" all day, the way horses are created to?

Ike needs to lose about 150 lbs.  He is in a dry lot with his miniature buddy, Sparky.  Ike gets 17 lbs and Sparky gets 6 lbs of tested teff hay each day, divided into 2-3 feedings in PortaGrazer slow feeders.  My concern is that they finish the teff hay long before the next meal is served.  Is there another hay/hay-like feed they can have that is typically low DE, low sugar, low starch?  Thank you.
--
- Julie Thomas
September 2018, Seabeck, WA
Case Histories: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Julie-Ike-Spar ky  .
Ike Photos: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=73042  .
Sparky Photos: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=73044  .


Julie Thomas
 


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

This type of reasoning completely ignores the fact that hay is a concentrated source of calories compared to grass - at least 8 times more concentrated.

I would love to see the studies that confirm not having access to hay for more than 4 hours increases risk of ulcers, colic or stereotypic behaviors (hint: there are none).

I do agree it can mimic fasting, because the stomach and small intestine can empty out that quickly, and that is potentially  a factor contributing to the next meal causing an exaggerated insulin response which we are trying to avoid in metabolically challenged horses, but even that has not been narrowed down to an exact time frame.

If they are eating too fast, double up on restricting the size of the holes/feeders. If you want more consumption overnight, divide up the daily ration accordingly. Free choice is not the answer when you need weight loss.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

Just to reinforce the first part of my post, horses graze all day because grass is at least 80% water and they need to do that to get enough calories.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


celestinefarm
 

Julie,
How are you separating the two feeders so that one is not eating the other's hay? 
--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .


celestinefarm
 

Also, I have looked at Porta Grazers at equine expos, watched their videos, etc. IMO, the holes in the covers are much too large , which is why your horses are finishing their hay rations so fast.  Highly recommend hay nets , with appropriately sized holes. Either marine rope nets such as Haychix sells or web nets such as Busy Horse. You can get the appropriate size net for your guys( and your hay, a soft easy to pull out hay will need a smaller holed net than a stemmier hay such as 1st cut orchard/mixed grass.)  
--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .


 

Argh, the perennial question of needing to balance caloric needs with behavioural needs!  Thanks so much for posting this, because it is something we ALL struggle with.

Firstly, data have shown that 24/7 eating is not necessary. 6 to 8 hours between feeds have not shown to increase ulcer issues (can't say about behavioural issues, because that depends on whether the horse is locked in an isolated stall, out in a dry lot alone, or out in a dry lot with friends).  Cortisol and insulin are not increased by 12 hour fasts.

The best advice I have heard, from Teresa Palumbo, is to weigh out your 12 hours worth of hay, and then just keep adding nets until they only have a couple of hours left before the next meal.  That's for night-time; if you can hang bags three times a day during daytime, same thing applies but with less hay.  Here are some really good posts about that dilemma of Need-to-Feed vs Need-to-not-be-Obese: 
 
 
 
--
Jaini 
Merlin and Maggie (over the bridge), Gypsy, Ranger
ECIR mod/support, Smithers, BC 09

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Jaini%20and%20Merlin-Maggie-Gypsy .
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=34193  
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=39711


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

I'd also like to add that eating virtually nonstop is not an inherent behavioral need either.  Horses that are not prone to IR, especially if fit, will self regulate their intake even with constant access to hay and being fed supplemental grain. Cortisol actually drops with feeding. Horses, like people, do have an exaggerated insulin response to the first meal after a fast even overnight. It's called the first meal of the day effect.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Julie Thomas
 

I don't separate them anymore.  When I was putting Sparky's 3lbs where Ike could not get to it, Sparky would "help" Ike eat his, then go eat his own (smart little stinker).  As a mini, Sparky gains weight easily, so that just shifted the issue.  You'd think Ike would have lost weight this way...but he didn't.

--
- Julie Thomas
September 2018, Seabeck, WA 
Case Histories: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Julie-Ike-Sparky  .
Ike Photos: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=73042  .
Sparky Photos: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=73044  .


Julie Thomas
 

I see multiple recommendations for hay nets vice the PortaGrazers.  Can anyone speak, factually, to the validity of claims that the position and motion of having the horse eat at shoulder level from nets vice at ground level (head lowered as if grazing) is harmful to the horse?  I haven't seen any studies to support it, but I've seen the claims from more than one source.  Thank you!
--
- Julie Thomas
September 2018, Seabeck, WA
Case Histories: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Julie-Ike-Sparky  .
Ike Photos: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=73042  .
Sparky Photos: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=73044  .


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

The only thing that has been investigated as far as I know is the effect of head position on the clearance of mucus and lung secretions. This is improved if the top of the trachea at throat level is lower than the thoracic inlet located midchest at the level where the trachea turns to enter the chest - i.e. bottom of the neck.  However, horses also doze in a head down position and root around in a head down position. There are no studies showing effects of eating position only. Problems have only been seen were horses are tied in head up position for long periods - e.g. cross-tied versus head loose on long trips.

Hay bags restrict intake better once the holes are small enough. They can be secured inside tires, inside tubs on the ground or bath tubs, etc.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Annette
 

From my experience, the type of feeder that works well will depend to some extent upon the horse. For years, I have fed my six horses in Nibblenets at shoulder level and felt that everything was OK. Then I had a couple of Welsh Cobs who were vigorous eaters!  They liked to flip and bang the hay nets to get the hay to drop out - now most of my horses will do that to a certain extent, but the cobs were extra enthusiastic. After a while, I noticed a certain stiffness in their necks when I rode them. I started feeding them hay loose on the ground and the stiffness completely went away. As an aside, I also had Appaloosa mare that wore her teeth on the tips which we attributed to the way she pulled the hay out of the webbing Nibblenets.  And I had another Welsh Cob that I fed in a Porta-Grazer who developed a callous on her nose from attacking the feeder too hard!  This year, after all my horses came in from grass to dry paddocks for the year, I have been feeding the hay in multiple small piles on the ground around their paddocks. It simulates grazing, but the trade-off is that they finish faster.  I do a little  hay on the ground and some in a Nibblenet for my IR mare as a compromise.  I'm not sure what I will do when winter weather comes, but I'm reluctant to use the hung Nibblenets with my cobs again. Nibblenets do make nets that can be put on the ground so horses can eat in a grazing position. I'm not sure I trust the cobs with those either!
--
Annette and Alley
October 2018, Moscow, Idaho
Case History:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Alley%20Case%20History.pages.pdf .
Album: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=78421  .


Michele Einarson
 

after many iterations, I now use a NibbleNet inside a huge feed tub: https://www.thinaircanvas.com/nibblenet/picturesframe.htm
http://www.tufftubs.com/htdocs/plinoval.htm
I attach the net to the tub with snaps and rope loops because my guy wants to throw everything out of the tub:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-9-16-in-Stainless-Steel-Rope-Loop-42634/205887675?MERCH=REC-_-pipsem-_-203810635-_-205887675-_-N
I prefer feeding with the head down to allow nasal passages to clear and avoid poll issues that might arise from eating with his head cocked to the side.

Michele & Mosey, 2019
Reno, NV, USA
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Michele%20and%20Mosey
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=88791


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

You  might try using screw eyes and extra snaps to tightly secure the sides and bottom of your nets so that they won't move. If they can't toss them they'll probably give up trying.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Sandy Carr
 

I read recently (and I'll be darned if I can't find the article again...) there is a concern now about what happens to the horse's back as they stand in an un-natural position to eat from a wall, rather than the floor.  I can see the dip in my horses' backs as they pull the hay out of the bag or net and it does make sense.  My minis can get quite violent, ripping and ripping at the net to get something to eat so I always put a handful or two on the floor to take care of the big hungries at the beginning of a feeding.

But after reading the article I am going to move to the floor again...but have not decided with what "device".

I'll search for the article again...
--
Sandy

March 2017, Onalaska, WA, USA

Case History:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Sandy%20and%20Andy . 
                        https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=6171 .


ferne fedeli
 

Do you use the bottom straps on the Nibble Nets?  I have a donkey that would love to flip the hay nets around, but can't get the one with the bottom strap to move...  I hang mine on a fence post--I have non-climb horse wire and split wood post fencing.
--

Ferne Fedeli     2007

No. California
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Kandee Rockett
 

I use Hay Pillow.  They are designed to lie on the floor but I believe they can be hung too…I haven’t tried.  They are also sturdy and come in various net sizes.


--
Thanks,
Kandice and TWH Mare  Bunny
North Central TX  joined 2/19

Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Kandice%20and%20Bunny


jmc
 

Hay pillows are awesome but can't use them with shod horses.

As for nibblenets and other web slow feeders (like Smartpak's) I secure the bottoms fairly tight so my three (one horse, two mini mules) can't knock them around too much. I use carabiners so I can unhook them easier for filling.
--
Jodi
June 2018
NW Wyoming

Yankee Case History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Jodi%20and%20Yankee

Photo Album: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=54386


Joy V
 

Careful with carabiners.  I used to use them too, but I have seen several pics now online of horses w/ carabiner piercings in their lips/cheeks/faces.  I do think there are ones that screw closed which would probably be safer.

--
Joy and Willie  
(aka FLS Boxcar Willie)

Nevada County, CA - 2019


 

Julie,
I am lucky (in a weird way) that I had just retired when my horse had his first laminitis episode. I got help from another member who sent me to this group. Once I learned to test hays and create a safe diet for my guy I found it difficult FOR ME to restrict his diet. I hated reducing his hay intake. I felt miserable and guilty. OK, I found 1" hole hay nets, but he learned to empty them incredibly quickly. Then I bit the bullet and doubled the hay nets. That slowed down his hay eating. THEN, I found mini-hay nets. These are dinky little hay nets and I could put a little bit of hay in each net and I tied them in numerous places around my horses dry lot areas. Tough-1 makes a small, low cost Mini Hay bag. 

I also learned that hay nets can be placed down low, just about ground level as long as the draw string is secured well. 
--
Bonnie Snodgrass 07-2016

ECIR Primary Response 

White Cloud, Michigan, USA

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