January 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Natural Feeders are a Natural for Horses

"The feeder reduces allergies, hay waste, potential for ulcers, boredom and bad habits that develop with scheduled feeding"

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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Historically, stabled horses have been forced to live on a feed schedule that works for a barn operation. In the wild, they graze more than 20 hours a day, stopping only for naps. One solution recommended by veterinarian Mark Meddleton is the new types of self feeders.

We have been using these for the past eight months with 24 horses in turnout paddocks with excellent results. Our experience is that we have been able to buddy up some horses. They drink more water, and move around moreā€”all more natural activities for horses. The feeder reduces allergies, hay waste, potential for ulcers, boredom and bad habits that develop with scheduled feeding. We have been able to reduce some sand clear and ulcer medicine as a result of using these feeders, and horses that are hypersensitive to a particular feeding time become more relaxed and happier.

Grasses of timothy, brome, orchard or mixes of these are ideal for feeders. If a horse still needs a little alfalfa, try to feed in a mix with one of these grasses with the grass being the dominant feed, feed that flakes one or two times a day in addition to the self feeder filled with grass. Hay should be tested for nutritional content as it can vary widely.

Additionally, there are new solutions for less hay waste in trailers or tied-outside trailers called nibble nets. This reduces waste when horses pull it out in the trailer and stomp on it. There is also a brand of hanging feeder that has the same concept as the Natural Feeder, but is smaller for traveling. These also keep the feed flowing at a slow pace which is better for digestion purposes. We are going to test these for durability on the only horse that managed to pull apart his Natural Feeder.

These feeders carry a lifetime warranty and can be purchased through Lorraine at Desert Wind Saddlery, 525 Airport Rd. For more information, visit www.thenaturalfeeder.com.

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