Since I began the journey into slow feeding with hay bags a few years ago, there has been a lot of trial and error and experimenting along the way. Even though I started my horses on 1.5" slow feeder hay nets initially, I found that they could get too much hay, too fast and were bloated and over eating, so I started making my own 1" hole bags.
NOTE: I think it's important to clarify here that this entry is more about the texture of hay and not the quality or nutritional value of the hay. It is impossible to discern the quality of hay visually. The only way to do this is through a qualified laboratory.
Notice how easy it is for them to get the hay out? This is what we want! Otherwise the amount of effort and/or damage to the bags will cause A LOT of frustration for the animal, and expense to you.
Have you ever wondered why your animals damage your hay nets?
One of the reasons is that the kind of hay we use in the bags is more important with the 1/2" and 1" hole bags than the 1.5" hole bags. For example, I found that hay that is too short (short strands) is much harder for them to get out, as is very, very fine hay and very coarse hay, with alfalfa (a legume) being the MOST difficult of all. This is because the stock of the alfalfa tends to get stuck in the small holes, so then horses have to pull a lot harder to get it out, which can lead to holes in your hay nets.
There are other reasons as well, such as animals not being properly introduced to slow feeding systems, health issues etc.... but we'll leave that topic for another blog entry. **Access our Getting Started Guide here.**
As you and I both know, if you've just spent a truck load of money on a truck load of hay, it's not practical or even possible to return it or resell it to find hay that works with your 1/2" or 1" bags. This is why we recommend having both sizes on hand, in case your animals need to be able to access their forage in very cold weather, or if you're noticing your animal (horse, sheep, goat, alpaca/llama etc.) is looking thinner than they should. If in doubt....experiment! Your animals will tell you what they need.
I hope this sheds some light on the topic of hay texture and accessibility for 1/2" and 1" hole slow feeder hay nets.
Until next time,