After reading my post about small-mesh hay nets (click here if you missed that), a reader from California sent me these fantastic slow feeders. She had them made for her mini donkeys, but no longer needs them, so she has very kindly and generously passed them on (Thank you D!!). There are even a couple with larger holes for the horses in there.
The nice thing about these is that the holes are small enough that
Ramsey cannot get a foot caught in one and they can be left on the
ground like pillows, making for a more natural grazing experience.
The only trouble with them is that they must smell just a little bit like D's donkeys and Emma is not sure she wants anything to do with them. I think that donkeys (like dogs again) are very sensitive to different smells. Whenever I am around strange horses or any other animals and then return to my own, I have to let Emma check me out and talk to her. This was especially true when Ramsey was very little. If I smelled wrong, she would move Ramsey away from me until I had passed the smell test.
Jack donkeys have a reputation for being unpredictably mean and aggressive. I wonder if they really are so unpredictable, or if it is another case of our own inability to recognize what may be a threat to a donkey. Donkeys are highly territorial and protective and jacks will fight to the death to defend their territory. If a jack's owner were to go visit a neighbors stud or new dog and then approach the jack, an animal who probably relies more on scent than sight for identification, is it any wonder that the jack may react badly? If we humans thought more about how our animals perceive things rather then assume their perceptions will be the same as ours, I believe there would be far fewer tragic accidents.
Emma is very protective of Ramsey and after getting a good whiff of the new hay bags, she moved him away from them and kept him away.
From her point of view, these nets could have come from a herd of mean jacks who might threaten her baby. She has no way of knowing that these cute little guys mean no harm...
For the last several days, I have left the nets hanging in my tack room to air out and absorb the smells of my own barn and this afternoon I hung one bag in the barn for her to get used to. I have no doubt that she will accept them, it's just a matter of letting her do it in her own way and in her own donkey time.
Several people have asked me about nets for horses and for mini donkeys. I have little personal experience with these myself, but will share what I have found so far....
Cynthia from A donkey Diary has 4 mini donkeys and uses small mesh nets for them. She highly recommends NAG bags from www.slowfeeder.com. They appear to be very good bags that are safe for minis and are well made.
The paddock paradise website offers this hay net comparison chart, which is very helpful. Some of the links seem outdated, but the info is good.
I know several people who have made their own feeders using hockey puck netting from Arizona Sports. Lisa from Laughing Orca Ranch shared this and this on her blog.
The net I am using currently came from Chicks saddlery. It works well enough, but I would not use it for the donkeys if I was not hanging it above my manger, which prevents them from getting their feet near it. It is inexpensive and rugged, but should only be used if you can be sure to keep their feet away from it.
Similarly, I purchased nets from Adams Horse supply. They were inexpensive and work well for the horses, but I would not use them for donkeys or any small aniamls. They stretch too much and hang too low when empty. They hold a lot of hay, which is good for me as I only have to fill them once a day and the horses never run out of hay. An OK choice for full sized horses who are barefoot, but do not use for donkeys or ponies...