Welcome back to Hay Hoarder! As the title suggests, today I’d like to chat about why slow feeding should be an important part of your horses care. I think there is a common misconception that slow feeding is only required for horses who have metabolic issues that have caused an increase in weight gain and these horses now need to have their feed/forage restricted. But really, that’s not the case at all.
I recently read an informative article by Juliet M. Getty, PhD., titled, “The Correct Way to Use Slow-Feeders.” While Dr. Getty covers several types of slow feeding in her article, including slow feed hay nets, she begins the article by defining the purpose of a slow feeding system and why it’s so important in maintaining healthy horses. You see, slow feeding mimics grazing, which is what our horses would be doing 24/7 if they had the option and the forage available to do so. As Dr. Getty explains, given the opportunity, horses will actually regulate their forage intake themselves, but if forage is restricted, it tends to cause undue stress. And, we all know stress can be a nasty business where horses are concerned, creating all sorts of health and behavior issues!
Dr. Getty goes on to explain in her article that, “stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which in turn leads to elevated insulin.” Having a horse with EMS myself, I am very aware of the problems elevated insulin can cause. When used correctly though, slow feed hay net systems can help reduce stress, encourage horses to eat less, while still having the unrestricted access to forage that helps keep them healthy and happy.
While we definitely know there are many slow hay feeding systems out there – believe me, we’ve tried our fair share – we strongly feel that The Hay Hoarder checks all of the boxes when it comes to the advantages of using a slow feed hay net system.
I’d like to thank Juliet M. Getty, PhD. for giving me permission to cite her article. I highly recommend giving this article a read. You can check it out by visiting her website at www.gettyequinenutrition.com.