Fellow horse blogger, Alli, from the Heart Horse and Hoof blog at https://hearthorseandhoof.com/ inquired about the hay bags I use. Funny that I was thinking about doing a post about these hay bags. Her inquiry prompted me to bring the idea to fruition!
While I do use various kinds of hay bags, I have to say that the Nibblenets from http://www.thinaircanvas.com are some of my favorites. I purchased my first set of Nibblenets about ten years ago. I still use some of those bags! And the bags that I have purchased more recently have been just as well made as the ones I bought many years ago. The quality remains consistent.
Nibblenets are tuff and sturdy! Really well made. I use my bags on a daily basis, hung outside around the run-in shed where they are exposed to horses teeth, rain, wind, sub-zero temperatures in the Winter and humid 100 degree days in the Summer.
They come in different sizes, colors and configurations. They are not cheap to purchase, but considering how long they last, you definitely get your money’s worth.
Nibblenets are also easy to clean. I periodically rinse with water and scrub with a plastic kitchen-type scrub brush. The webbing can absorb smells so I sometimes leave them out in the sun on a warm dry, day to try to kill those odors.
In addition to the bags themselves, I love the straps that come with them. The straps are really well made; I have not had one break on me yet. They are made with snaps on both ends that make them really versatile. I like being able to adjust the hanging height of the bags as I’ve always had horses of different sizes (I prefer to hang the bags as low as I feel I can safely do so without risking a horse potentially hooking a hoof over the straps if they should rear or kick).
While I am sure my horses prefer to eat their hay without it being hidden behind netting, I like being able to slow down their rate of eating and keep the hay clean. I do typically feed one meal a day on the ground, but the other two meals are presented in hay bags. I wonder about how eating from a hay bag affects a horse’s body. Since they are designed to eat with the neck extended down and head on the ground, you have to wonder if there are any long term physical effects from eating in a different posture? I keep my eye out for any new research on this matter. I have not personally noted any negative effects, but just like with our own bodies, I am not sure we really realize the long-term effects of certain repetitive activities until many years down the road.
New hay bag users should note that there can be a learning curve with these bags. Of the six horses I have owned and the nine foster horses I have kept, all of them learned to use the nibblenets without issue. But when I first introduce hay bags, I always help the horse by pulling little tufts of hay out of the bag and leaving them there for the horse to find. Otherwise, learning to use the bag can be an exercise in frustration.
I remember the first time I used the Nibblenets with the three horses I had when I first purchased the bags. My horses Bear and Fate figured the bags out very quickly. But my horse, Blue, couldn’t get any hay out at first. I later found him just standing in front of the hay bag with his head hanging low. He looked miserable! So lesson learned- I pull out tufts for the first few days until I see that they have the hang of it. The size of the holes will make a difference too. The larger holes will make it easier for a horse to access the hay at first. You may find over time though that you need to move to a bag with smaller holes. Now that Bear has been eating from the hay bags for about ten years, he needs smaller holes than what he started off with to really slow down the rate of feeding. But even the larger size holes continue to provide a slower-feeding hay experience than he’d get from hay on the ground.
So thanks again to Alli from the Hear Horse and Hoof Blog at https://hearthorseandhoof.com/ for giving me impetus to complete this post.
If you are interested in the Nibblenets, go to http://www.thinaircanvas.com to learn more and place an order.