- Hang the bag by the breakaway carabiners that are attached to the upper corners. We always recommend using the carabiners as an attachment break-point.
- If your horse is shod, paws, or is extra active, you will need to hang the net higher or put a tub beneath it to keep the shoes away from the actual net. The tub also catches any loose hay that falls through, keeping waste to a minimum.
- Do NOT secure the bottom of the bag tightly, as this gives the horse leverage to pull against the net and may cause premature tearing
- You can use any kind of hay in the nets. The broader the leaf, the slower it goes through the net. Although we do not recommend free feeding Alfalfa, it too can be fed through the net but we recommend using a tub or mat beneath the net to catch the small leaves that fall through.
- It is best to have at least one more bag than you have horses or you will find yourself filling more often than necessary. Also, as the alpha takes a bag, the other horses just shift to another station with no problems.
Filling the Extended Day Net
Filling the 3-string Bale net
Transitioning to Freedom Feeders
To transition your horse to freedom feeding, start by using the bag as a supplemental feeder filled with low calorie, high fiber forage in addition to the horse’s normal ration. This will help to keep your horse from being frustrated while learning to use the hay net. Never let the nets go empty. As your horse learns to use the Freedom Feeder, reduce the amount of feed on the ground or in their old feeder. Over time, your horse will prefer grazing from the bag.
At first they will EAT, EAT, EAT, but usually within a month even the most aggressive eaters slow down. Part of it is mental, as they have to learn and trust that they will never have to worry when they will be fed again. At first, some horses may get a hay belly, this is from the increased digestion, but once they’ve built that trust and are satiated they’ll start walking away, the food consumption balances out and so do their tummies.
It is also suggested that while transitioning your horse to any free feed program that you incorporate a round of psyllium, digestive aid and probiotics to help the system adjust to having more food. AS ALWAYS provide lots of clean water closely available to encourage the horses to drink.