Monday, April 9, 2012

Slow Feeder

My riding buddy has been using small-mesh hay nets to feed her horses, which is working very well for her.  However, she wanted a box type slow feeder that would be free standing and could be moved to different locations.  We looked at a lot of different feeders and there are some interesting designs out there, but we were both appalled by the price tag attached to them.  The other thing that I did not like about all of the feeders I saw is that they have solid walled construction that does not allow any air flow through the feeder.  Having severe breathing problems myself, I am hyper aware of air quality and ventilation and I don't like the idea of the horses having their noses in the feeders all the time.  I don't care how clean or high quality your hay is, it is by nature a breathing hazard.  We put our heads together and came up with a version of a slow feeder that I think will work well.

The base is actually a wooden sled with runners made of treated 2x6.  Everything else is rough-cut hemlock.

If you just wanted a small work sled to pull behind a horse or lawn tractor you could stop right here.  (Note Tessa in the background, She and Emma got to hang out on the lawn this afternoon, much to their delight and Tanner's consternation.  He spent the whole time repeatedly trying to get my attention to tell me that the horse's weren't where they belonged.)

We decided to leave one inch spaces between the boards of the sidewalls to allow for airflow.  We also left a 1\4" gap between all the boards on the bottom to allow rain to drain out. 

Since all special treats need to be enjoyed in moderation, the girls eventually had to leave the Spring grass.  And since their version of helpfulness also needs moderation, it was incarceration time for them.  (Note relaxed, happy Border Collie) 

Almost done...

I wonder what sort of bribes might be required to get past the inspectors this time.  Emma is going to be a particularly tough sell, there is nothing she hates more than being locked up.  Makes her soooo mad...

The key ingredient....

I left the ends of the side posts high in case we need to come back later and add something to keep the horses from pulling the lid out.  It has some heft to it and not much for a horse to get a hold of so we decided to try it as is for now.  If it works, I'll go back and cut the ends flush with the top of the feeder. 

We had a hard time finding the right grate for the top and finally settled on this welded wire fencing with 1x2" squares.  Product testing will show whether or not it will work well.  We used my favorite star-drive screws so the lid will be easy to take apart and replace the grating if necessary.  

Ready for inspection...Hopefully Riding Buddy's inspectors won't be too hard to buy off.

The total cost of materials was about $40-50 and the whole thing can be dragged around by brute force or pulled with a sub-compact tractor, maybe even a large lawn tractor.  The total dimensions are 2'x4' and 27 inches high, which is a good size for average horses.  For minis, goats or sheep, the sidewalls could be made shorter.  This design has the added benefit that when not being used to feed hay, it could easily be used as a work sled to haul stuff around your farm, either with real horsepower or the mechanical type.  With only a very minor adaptation, the side walls could be made detachable so the whole thing could revert to being a flat sled if needed. Versatility is a great thing.

This was an easy and fun project and would be a great place to start if anyone is interested in tackling an easy, useful, carpentry project.

NOTE: we did this project on Sat. afternoon and I wrote this post that evening.  Later, I got an email from Riding Buddy letting me know that the squares on the grate are too small and did not pass inspection.  We are going to try some vinyl lattice with larger openings and more flexibility.  We had our doubts about the welded wire, but thought it was worth a try.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I'll post a picture of the new, improved lid once we find the right material.  Any suggestions are welcome.


  1. This turned out so beautifully. Out west we have this stuff called horse panel - it has a 2" x 4" welded squares. I use it as a kick barrier on the inside walls of my metal barn. The hog panel version has 4" x 4" squares. Problem is it only comes in huge sheets. But I think it would work if your lattice idea doesn't.

  2. I would not use the PLASTIC lattice. It breaks to easily. But the 2x4 fencing WOULD work a lot better. I did find some plans to make the slow feeder.

    Here is the link:
    It might help.
    I look forward to an update.

  3. I really like this - and the air flow is important. I am sure you will get it just right. Good job!

  4. I have no idea how old this is but i use what is called grid wall. Its metal that they use in store displays. I found it on craigslist. It works wonderful and will not break.

    1. How did the lattice work out? I have read multiple posts on other threads that warn against using metal due to subsequent teeth problems. I really want to build a slow hay feeder but in a quandry about what kind of grate/mesh, etc. to use!

    2. After using both for quite a while now, I like the net better and so do the animals. I have not had any teeth problems, but the gelding I had last year (who was a real hog about food) did manage to irritate his gums or lips. If you build a box, I would buy netting and stretch it in a frame. Check here for netting:

  5. Hi friends,
    i also bought a horse feeders, but it is not a cheap quality is one of the best horse feeder.
    i saw many feeders but due to plastic stuff i did not buy anyone.but i found a good horse feeders there..:)

  6. I like the small mesh hay nets. I have only two horses, but they take about three horse feeders to eat two flakes of hay each. The nets get easier to fill after you've done it a few times. I fill all my nets at once and then use them as needed so I don't have to fill nets at every feeding. Smith Brothers has them on sale right now.

  7. Nibble net sells sheets of their web netting, could easily be attached to the wood frame lid.

  8. Hi everyone, it's my first visit at this website, and paragraph is truly fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these types of

    Look at my web page - robert pattinson costume; ,

  9. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources
    back to your site? My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and
    my users would certainly benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you. Appreciate it!

    Feel free to surf to my blog post :: lock and key Camarillo