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Hay Feeders — An Efficient Way To Handle Dietary Requirements

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Hay waste often occurs when hay is not contained within an animal feeder. Learn about some feeder types, plus review some pointers that will help you adjust to using a new hay-feeding system. 


Forage is any plant material that grazing livestock consume. Grazing livestock should always have access to forage. Forage provides nutrients. It also aids with digestive health. Tossing forage materials onto the ground could lead to waste. If animals are fed in this manner, wet soil conditions or wind could damage hay or another forage material. 


The main purpose of a hay feeder is to provide livestock with fresh food on a consistent basis. The use of a hay feeder will eliminate the need to provide frequent feedings. Instead of offering livestock small batches of food on multiple occasions each day, a livestock owner only needs to fill the feeding system with hay when the forage supply runs low. 


Feeding systems include slow feeders and free-choice feeders. Slow feeders are designed to dispense a small amount of food at a time. A slow feeder may be constructed of mesh or cage-like materials that will restrict large bunches of hay from being released from the feeder. A free choice feeder is designed to dispense an unlimited amount of hay. Animals who use this type of feeder can consume hay as quickly as they prefer to. 


The size of a hay feeding system will affect the type of hay product that can be added to the system. Small feeders are designed to hold loose hay. Large feeders are designed to hold square-shaped bales or round bales. A feeder may contain several slots that can each be used to hold loose hay or bales that will be offered to livestock.


Determine where to install a new feeder. You may want to install it under an overhang or along a part of the farmland where your animals spend time each day. Using the feeder will require you to learn how to load the feeder. After you review the manufacturer's guidelines, open the food chamber that your feeder possesses.

If the chamber is slotted, add equal amounts of hay to each section. Otherwise, add hay to the non-slotted chamber. When your animals are outdoors, encourage them to use the feeder. Clean the feeder at scheduled times. If leftover hay remains in the feeder, replace it with fresh hay. Sanitize the feeder as needed. Sanitizing the feeder will prevent mold growth.

To learn more about large hay-feeding systems, contact a supplier in your area.