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Daniela's Horse Paradise
This is my first attempt to slow feeding. The horses took to it pretty well, but after just a few days I realized that there were problems with using a wooden frame for the wire-mesh over the top of the hay, so I changed that a few times before I finally decided to switch to hockey netting (thanks to this web-site!), which works very well (I'll have pictures of this up, soon!). I am currently still waiting for my SMHN- they are on back-order, so I won't get them until the middle of January ;-(. Eventually, I would prefer having more nets vs. the big feeders, just to get the horses moving more! So far, we are managing well even with the nasty MN winter!
P.S: The two horses that got me looking into all of this are not on this picture!
Destiny, my little half-arabian mare (5 years old) who just can't quit eating! Even with regular exercise (obviously not enough, though), she just doesn't want to give up those pounds! She lost some nice weight over the winter last year, when I really cut down on her ratio, but as soon as spring arrived and with lots of nice fresh grass, she put on about 150-200 lbs in less than a month! Had the vet test her and so far no signs of IR or any other "unhealthiness"! Even though that's good news, it's time to find a way to keep her happy in the winter (she wasn't last year!!!) and keep her slim the rest of the year! I truly am against fat animals and am actually embarrassed to have one this "hefty" (she is 14.2 hands, weight: about 1100 lbs right now (she should be about 850-900 lbs!!!). I will update with a new picture after this winter and then again a few months into "grass season"!
Patches, a 14 year old Missouri Foxtrotter. He belongs to my friend Joe, but is boarded at my place. He has been foundered a while before Joe bought him. When he got him, his front feet were AWFUL! He had "therapeutic" horse shoes that were pulled and about 1 1/4 inch separation of the white line! We didn't get any x-rays, but started him on natural trims. By now, his separation has decreased to about 1/4 inch (still too much, but much better!) and we haven't had any re-occurrence of laminitis in over one year! He is a little on the lazy side and it is quite hard to get a rise out of him, so even though he is pretty comfortable on his feet by now, he still wouldn't take any unnecessary steps! He is also second in command (after Savannah) and doesn't get pushed around much. Even though he is not very overweight, I would still like to see him slim down a little and especially move more! Paddock paradise should really help with that (especially once we get the whole property "tracked"!!!)
Latika, born 5/11/09 out of Savannah (breeding stock paint) is a 1/2 Friesian. I am hoping for her to grow up to be not only my dream horse, but also healthy, fit and emotionally balanced! She's been out on the trails with us since she was 2 weeks old, is a pro at trailering! She had natural trims since she was only a few weeks old. Now we just need to make sure she doesn't follow into her bigger 1/2 sister Destiny's footsteps as far as her weight goes!
Pictures of my track and slow feeders
A few things I learned this winter:
1. The barrier netting is too thin for some of my horses (especially Patches), so I've been patching (the name should have warned me ;-P) holes on a daily basis! I will switch to the goal netting either next winter or if I need to feed hay this summer much earlier! I think I will use the nets I have now to introduce any new horses to the slow feeding concept (they DO get easier on the nets with time)!
2. My horse are way too different to successfully manage them on one track! I will need to set-up a "fatty" and a "skinny" horse track this spring (impossible now, the ground is rock solid!), just because the ones that need the food get pushed around by the ones that eat way too much of it.
3. A good lead horse will make managing the track much easier! Unfortunatley, my lead mare Savannah passed away on 1/2/10, likely from an abdominal aneurysm, so Patches took over. Savannah was strict but kind, didn't keep anyone away from food or shelter and made sure nobody else did, neither. Patches isn't necessasrily very agressive with the others, but definately keeps them away from food or shelter when given the opportunity! Another reason to split them up!
4. Ground anchors that are drilled mostly into the ground will easily disappear in MN snow and are NOT easy to clip hay nets to! The ones that I left sticking out about 1 foot worked quite well, though!
5. SMHNs are time consuming, but sturdy and great for the horses. I like them even better dangling loosely (low, close to the ground), as this slows the horses down even more! (I know, I'm mean). HOWEVER... if I get any boarders, I don't think they are very practical to use in large ammounts, so I will likely come up with a way to make the goal netting bale sized and free hanging between two posts to make feeding time quicker and easier!
6. Snow wasn't a problem here all winter this far... the track stayed useable and safe for the horses (even after some rain and ice!)... I'm sure that will change this spring!
7. The horses did NOT need any blanketing all winter (and the worst is over!)... we had temperatures of -35 degrees F windchill, LOTS of snow, some rain on some "warmer" (32 degrees F) days and sleeting shortly after. They also did not much use the run-in shed at all! Only Patches had one day of shivering, when he got a little too wet and it was colder outside (wet+cold=bad!!!), so we threw on the blanket 'til he dried up, then everything was back to ok! They are big fluffy teddy bears right now with Latika actually resembling a wooly mammoth and snow is hardly melting on their backs! Well insulated! They do use the windbreaks, though (fences, trees, buildings etc.)!
8. The slow feeding greatly decreased aggression during not only feeding times, but throughout the day and it is not unusual for 3 horses to share one SMHN! Unheard of before slowfeeding!
9. The horses are happy!
I'm sure this will be a long learning process for me!
Spring came early this year in MN and the ground has been de-icing for a month now! Had no problems with the track even when the snow started melting (aside from it looking nasty!)... we just bought a skid loader (will get here April 5th), so the track maintenance should be better from now on! But because of all the warm weather, I was able to split up my horses about 2 weeks ago (just cut the track in 1/2 at first), with immediate results:
Patches and Destiny are on a strict diet now...I figured out that they've been eating about 2/3 of all the hay I've put out before, because Latika and Rodeo (without being pushed around) were not able to eat the whole 1/2 of the ratio I fed before to all 4 of them! Now Latika and Rodeo can grow and fulfill their nutritional needs while Destiny and Patches are finally starting to slim down (neither one is very upset with being on a diet... the track still keeps them busy enough!). I started double-bagging the "fatties" haynets and it keeps them working quite hard for a long time! The "skinnies are still being fed with single layer SMHNs and the feeder with netting I built.
Yesterday we re-arranged the entire track, so Destiny and Patches once again have a full circle. We narrowed the track to about 8-12 feet along the straight lines and 20-30 feet in the corners! That should speed them up a little! Also I added 4 gates at the far end of the inside track to open up the center, which I devided into 4 small pastures that I'm planning on rotating them through once the grass is grown in enough. Latika and Rodeo got their own lane on one side of the track into the back pasture which for now they will have free access to (I need to put up new fencing around the entire outside of my property before I'll start splitting up the back pasture more!). In the last 2 weeks, I bet Destiny lost about 20-30 lbs and is starting to get more spirited (whohoo, only 150+ lbs to go!)! Patches lost only a little weight, but he really doesn't need to lose a bunch!
I moved the roundpen further up front for easier access (you don't realize how inconvenient a "good spot" may be until you've used it for a while!) and now everything just flows better!
I'll keep you updated on how things go with the new set-up and once we get into "pasture season"!
Things are going great! I took the NCR Plus course with Dr. Kellon online and am now supplementing my horses according to my calculations which helped their feet and coat a lot.
I also split my herd: Latika and Rodeo on pasture (about 7 acres) with a 300 ft. track connecting the pasture with the shady resting / mineral feeding area, so they got some extra exercise that way. Both kept looking in perfect body condition all year! I got another horse Cyrus (Percheron QH cross) who came to me very unconditioned, neglected and overweight with unkept feet in July. Destiny and Patches started out their season on their own track, which forms a full circle around 5 little patures that I rotate them through.
Destiny has been staying on track for most of the day all spring and summer. She lost some weight (still not what I would call skinny, but her body score is about 6.5!) but is in good spirits even though she had some weired wither injury and couldn't be ridden since the end of July. We started out with 2 hours of grazing AM and PM each for her and she lost good weight that way, then increased the grazing to all night, about 10 hours (both to make it easier on me and to keep her from losing weight too fast, which isn't healthy neither!). She is maintaining weight with that and recently started losing a little more weight as well.
Patches lost quite a bit of weight on the 2 hours AM and PM grazing schedule and also kept losing weight on the all-night schedule, so we stated putting him out on pasture 24/7 again the end of July which he tolerated well. Now that the apples are ripe and falling off the trees he had to come back on track to keep his feet from getting worse, plus he's been putting on some weight again, so it was time to re-start his diet anyways! His feet have been trimmed weekly by his owner and continue improving from the original founder he had.
Latika and Rodeo were out on pasture 24/7 as they are still growing and are looking muscular and healthy with a body score of 5.5!
Cyrus took over Patches' spot in the track in July to keep Destiny company and shape up a little himself! He lost a lot of weight and put on even more muscle! He is happy and healthy which is quite a change from when I got him! He is at about 6-6.5 for body score right now!
I am definately happy with being able to feed my horses pasture only all summer (saved some money that way) and having them all look perfect!
This winter I will continue keeping my herd split up and switching horses back and forth between the "all you can eaters" and the "dieters" as needed to keep them all at a body score between 5.5 and 6! I think this is the way to go!
I am looking into different feeders for the winter to make feeding time easier than last winter! We'll see what I'll come up with and how well it actually works!
Finally getting this down pretty good!
I created 2 parallel tracks this fall, split up the barn into 2 sections and put up 6 barrel feeders (I took Tanglemane's approach and hung them off of a post, supported by a second post with double SMHNs on 3 of them, single layer of hockey goal netting on the other 3). I made the tracks dead-end almost all the way back to the barn (where I positioned all the feeders) so I wouldn't have to carry the hay too far and the horses have to walk a lot to get to their food! I put Destiny, Patches and Cyrus on one side in the beginning of the winter (doubel nets) and Latika and Rodeo on the other side. Cyrus lost a bunch of weight and has now been moved over to Latika and Rodeo to maintian his weight better. I currently have hardly any wasting of hay, get the horses fed in about 15 minutes per day and have 4 horses with a body score of 5.5 and even Destiny (who now hasn't been ridden in over 6 months) is down to a 6! They are perky, buck and run all the time and are very content with their set-up! I also found it interesting that after splitting up the horses, the water consumption went up (even compared to last year)! I kept the tracks pretty slim.... from between 8 feet to 12 feet with more space in the corners and by the feeders! As I ran out of pature in the center track late last fall I will probably add another area to that to rotate them through for grazing come spring. When spring gets here I will go back to the way I had it set-up last summer with my "skinnies" on pasture all the time and my "fatties" on a single track that makes a full circle with getting rotated through smaller pastures at night.
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|MNdani||My mixed herd...||7||Feb 13 2010, 1:45 PM EST by MNdani|
Thread started: Feb 11 2010, 9:37 PM EST Watch
So I've been using the slow feeders (hockey barrier nets in boxes... will soon replace with hockey goal netting!, SMHNs) along my track all winter (5 horses beginning of winter, now only 4 :-() and I was hoping for the "magic effect" of having my horses even out their weight! I have 2 growing horses (Latika, 9 months old and Rodeo, almost 3 but wanting to grow big!) who could use some good groceries for their development), one laminitic horse Patches who is at a decent weight, but still put on a few pounds over the winter even though he shouldn't have and my problem child Destiny who was fat at the beginning of the winter and now is colossal! 14.2 hands and 1150 lbs!!! I couldn't believe it (well, I could, but I was disgusted!). And of course Destiny and Patches are dominant, so that when I feed less, they push the little ones away, so they won't go hungry no matter what! Right now there is not much I can change, but as soon as the ground freezes, I'll have to do some re-arranging! I've come to the conclusion that I will need to make two tracks: one "skinny horse / growing horse" track and one "fatty / laminitic horse track"! The fatties will get doubled up SMHNs next year with less hay in the winter and limited grazing (as tolerated) during the summer. I plan on sectioning off 4 individual small pastures that I can rotate them through inside the track. The others ("skinnies") will get a track to the back of my property into the big pastures during the summer (also rotational) and "all you can eat" low sugar hay in the slow feeders during the winter! Does anyone else have the same problem? How did you manage it? Am I forgetting about anything?
|tangledmanes||hockey net feeder lid||0||Jan 5 2010, 11:59 PM EST by tangledmanes|
Thread started: Jan 5 2010, 11:59 PM EST Watch
Daniela, I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your big feeder hockey net lid. Do you fasten it to the inside corners of the box? (Letting it get baggy as it empties?) Or is it stretched across a frame lid, kind of like the metal grid?
I've been using SMHN bags (and just recently added bale-size hockey net SMHN bags) inside feeder boxes, and am now thinking it might be a good idea to use just half of that hockey net material per feeder.
Do you find this valuable?
|ChristinaSchumacher||Beautiful Adorable Horse Family||2||Dec 23 2009, 8:57 PM EST by MNdani|
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