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Which is better to use, a hay net or a hay bag? I have both around my barn and, in today’s post, will explain when I use each one.

Let me start by defining hay nets vs. bags in case you aren’t sure what the difference is. A hay net is made of rope tied together in a netting. The opening in the netting, where the horse pulls the hay through, can be quite large, as in six inches across, or as small as an inch across on slow feeder hay nets. The larger the openings in the netting the easier and faster the horse can eat the hay, but more hay also gets dropped on the ground. The nets with small openings are often called “slow-feeder” hay nets as they limit the rate the horse can pull the hay out.

A hay bag is exactly that, a bag with a single hole cut into it and the horse pulls the hay out of this one hole. (There are also bags with a mesh in the front, but I haven't used one of these types yet.) Hay bags do reduce waste but don’t hold as much hay as the nets do. While they vary in size, a typical hay net will hold one half to one average size bale of hay. A hay bag will only hold a few flakes.

So each has its pros and cons, but here is where I use mine. I use hay nets in my stalls that have angled corners, making feeding on the ground very wasteful because the horses walk through the hay as they walk around the outside of their stalls. Bags wouldn’t hold enough hay to allow twice a day feeding, so that’s why I use the nets there. (Just a side note here that I do believe it is healthier to feed horses on the ground so their heads are down in a more natural grazing position, but sometimes compromises are necessary.) I also use hay nets in my run in sheds if I am feeding hay outside but want it off the ground to keep it out of the mud.

I use hay bags in my horse trailer. I don’t haul long distances anymore, so the hay bag provides plenty of hay for the horse’s ride, is easy to hang in the trailer, and doesn’t make a mess.

Those are my preferences for hay nets and bags… which one do you use more?

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  1. I like to feed on the ground as well! I usually use hay bags at horse shows while my horse is tied to the trailer. I usually use the hay net to transport hay (we use big bales not small ones) to all day events.

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