|6 months in use and holding up great|
It worked! The horses were all a little annoyed at first that it was harder to get their food. After much attempted destruction of the boxes, they accepted their new dining apparatus and learned to live with it. As a result my main goal was achieved. No matter how much hay I put in the boxes, they don't eat any more than if I fed them two meals a day. Somehow, despite this, the fatties got thinner (they almost look like normal horses now) and the giant thoroughbred held his weight beautifully through the winter with no blanketing. I am a fan for life...and no, I didn't get paid for this review. I don't get paid for anything that I blog about.
The horses are all more relaxed. Because they have food all day long if they want it, they don't get aggressive toward each other fighting over the five million hay piles I used to throw. They also all just seem to be better friends now. Also, there is no longer the panic frenzy that used to happen whenever the "food lady" shows up. Given that I have a four-year old human running around helping with chores, this is a very good thing for keeping my mommy anxiety levels low.
We can go away for the weekend! What? This is probably the absolutely best aspect of the whole slow feeder thing. I just put a full bale of hay in each box and it is enough to feed three horses for 48-hours. In the summer it lasts even longer because they don't seem to need as much hay to keep warm. I am paranoid though, so I still have someone check on them once a day when we are gone. But now, if I can't manage to get someone to stop by, it's not the end of the world, and no one needs to be there twice a day.
No more hay blowing away in the wind or getting ground into the mud un-eaten! I put the ugly tire feeders on Craigslist, and am no longer wasting any more hay. Hooray.
The Bad:On the rare occasion, the metal grate gets stuck at an angle against the wood lid, preventing the horses from being able to eat the hay. With two boxes always full, this isn't a big deal, as I check the horses at least twice a day. However, if we were out of town this could be bad news...which is why I still have someone come check on them once a day when we are gone.
Once in a while the horses scrape their foreheads on the inside corner of the lids. They are just superficial wounds where the hair gets scraped off. I think this can be fixed by routering the inside edge of the lids. I plan to do this next time someone I know that owns a router comes to visit us.
The latches suggested in the plans seemed a bit too small to work, and the inside location seemed a bit awkward for easy use. I put regular heavy duty hasp latches with carabineer on the outside of the lids instead. Works great.
The metal grates and the wood lids make a banging sound when the horses pull the hay through. It can be a bit noisy when the hay levels get low.