Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Slow feeder hay nets for donkeys - findings.

I've been using my new slow feeder hay nets for a couple of weeks now.  I have 3 from Purely Ponies and 3 from N.A.G. Bags.  All of these bags have 1" holes.  (see previous posts)

I also have 3 Nibble Nets that I've been using for quite a while, one attached in each stall, each with 2" holes created with sturdy webbing, not netting, and a solid backing.

I've been very cautious about the hay nets as they have not been recommended (by the UK Donkey Sanctuary) and could be dangerous.  Consequently I use only the Nibble Nets overnight and put the net bags away for daytime use.

In reading about how to use hay nets, it is recommended that they be full all the time but I have found this to be too much hay for donkeys.  So here's my current feeding regime (always subject to change!)

7 AM - I feed loose hay in troughs in the barn.  The 3 donkeys are separated into stalls so they can eat slowly and peacefully and each can receive whatever supplements I am offering in some soaked soy hulls.
I choose not to use the hay nets first thing in the morning.

While the donkeys are eating, I might stuff some feed bags with barley straw or else I come out mid-morning and offer them straw - either on the ground if the weather is dry or in hay bags (the kind with the big centre hole)  I hang the bags fairly low in the breezeway - that way any wasted straw becomes part of their bedding.

Noonish - now I toss out a N.A.G bag with about 1/2 a flake of coarse hay for each donkey.  I tie the ends tightly and work the cord back inside the bags and then throw them on the ground (in the sunshine if there is any!) like pillows.  The donkeys spend a happy 1 - 2 hours pulling strands out, heads down.

I make sure they also have barley straw available in the afternoon.

Dusk (whatever time that occurs) - now I hang the 3 hay nets from Purely Ponies, each with about 1/2 flake of hay.  If it's not raining, I hang the nets from a piece of sisal baling twine attached to a fence rail in the paddock.  I hang the bags low so the donkeys eat with their heads down. If by any chance a donkey gets caught up somehow, the sisal twine will break, freeing the net from the fence.  But so far, no one has created a hole in the mesh large enough to get a foot or head stuck, thank goodness!

9-10 PM - last feed of the day and now I use the Nibble Nets in the stalls for hay and the hay bags in the breezeway for overnight barley straw. I have been so concerned that the donkeys have something to last them all night but it seems the best I can do is make sure the straw is ample enough, even as bedding, that they will eat it if they really need something.


  1. what is the risk of hay nets for donkeys? if the mesh is small enough to not get a hoof in, i think i can place it low enough for head-down eating. i just ordered a small mesh hay net to slow eating. do you have pasture as well?

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