Slow Down Hay ConsumptionBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 29, 2011

Horses evolved as wandering grazers with digestive tracts designed for continual consumption of forages, giving them a built-in desire to chew. But in order to manage weight, it’s often necessary to limit the amount of forage horses can access. In order to prevent them from bingeing in one session and extend the amount of time horses spend eating hay, many companies now offer hay nets, bags, and other devices designed to ration out small quantities of hay over a longer period.

In addition to preventing boredom in stalled horses (which can often lead to sterotypies, such as wood-chewing and weaving), doling out hay to horses over a longer period of time might help prevent gastric ulcers.

Most ulcers occur in the upper portion of the horse's stomach, which is comprised of nonglandular squamous epithelium. The only protection this portion of the stomach has from gastric acid and pepsin comes from saliva production and the buffering capacity of feed. Extending chewing time by increasing the amount of time it takes horses to finish their hay will also increase saliva production.

Whether you choose a net, bag, filter, or plate, follow the manufacturer’s directions for use and watch your horse enjoy a more leisurely lunch.

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