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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

The cost of hay fed in a round bale is typically lower on a per ton basis than small square bales. A quick check of Texas hay markets shows that small square alfalfa bales are going for$375 per ton and large round bales for $300 per ton. The lower price coupled with the convenience of feeding are likely factors horse owners consider when feeding round bales.

Minnesota research shows horses can waste as much as 57% of the hay they’re fed – unless their owners are using hay feeders. Krishona Martinson, a University of Minnesots equine specialist studied nine round-bale feeders and a no-feeder control in a 40-day horse-feeding trial using orchardgrass round bales. She measured the amount of hay wasted and looked at what the payback for each feeder would be.

“The big take-home message: the no-feeder control resulted in 57% waste. If you’re working with horse owners who say that they can’t afford a round-bale feeder, what is your answer going to be? That you can’t afford to not have a round-bale feeder,” she answers.

Horses wasted less hay using any of the feeders compared to the no-feeder control. But the most efficient feeders were the Waste Less Hay Feeder, by JSI Innovations, St. Croix Falls, WI; Cinch Net, by The CinchChix LLC, North Branch, MN; and Hayhut, by The Hayhuts LLC, Palm Coast, FL,

While no injuries were observed from any feeder types during the data collection period, rub marks along the sides of faces were observed on many horses feeding out of the Waste Less feeder. After two day of feeding off the Cinch Net, the round bale collapsed down and horses were able to stand and defecate on the remaining hay.

Feeder design affected payback. The Cinch Net paid for itself in less than 1 month; Hayhut, 4 months; and Waste Less in 8 months. A low amount of hay waste and affordable price

resulted in the quickest payback time for the Cinch Net. Although the Waste Less feeder resulted in the least amount of waste, the higher price ($1,450) resulted in a longer payback period of 8

months. Economics were impacted by both waste efficiency and feeder purchase price, however, all round‐bale feeders repaid their cost within 20 months.

For more information contact the Texas Agrilife Extension Wichita County office.

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