What to Consider When Buying Round Bale Hay Net Feeders

Putting a round bale hay net feeders out for horses or other livestock is a great way to ensure that they have a continual hay supply. However, the downside of using a round bale is that research has shown that by simply placing a round bale in a paddock, 46% of the hay can be wasted. This is why round bale hay net feeders are known to be a great tool when it comes to reducing hay wastage

Hay nets for horses prove to save more than other feeders like slats or racks, lessening waste, and reducing the overall cost of providing hay. Apart from this, it slows down greedy and overweight horses. It also provides constant forage for underweight horses by creating a more natural feeding environment of being able to graze 24/7.

Ready to start using hay nets for your horses and livestock? Before you purchase one, here are some things you need to consider when buying round bale hay net feeders:

Type of hay

When using hay net feeders, you need to make sure that you have the right hole size suitable for the type of hay you’re using. 

Our 3cm GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Nets (available in 4x4 and 6x4) are suitable for really palatable hay such as lucerne, rye, clover and other high sugar hays. It’s best for horses, ponies or livestock that have experience with slow feed hay nets or eat very well from larger-sized holes. Best suited for laminitic/EMS/metabolic horses and ponies or especially really Gutzy eaters. If concerned, it is better to start with a 4cm net and then go back to a 3cm net once your horse or pony is familiar with the concept of eating from a hay net.

Using palatable hay can be a great way to increase acceptance of eating from a slow feed hay net. Our 4cm GutzBusta Hay Nets (available in 4x4, 5x4 and 6x4) are typically used for pasture hay, rhodes hay, cereal hay, lucerne hay and any reasonably palatable hay. These nets are a genuine slow feed hay net and 95% of horses accept them without too much trouble. Most horses take them immediately, while others may take a few hours or days.  

If you have stalky, low sugar, hay that isn’t that palatable, then we recommend our 6cm GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Nets (available in 4x4 and 6x4). These nets will still help you decrease hay wastage, stop large mouthfuls of hay being grabbed, but they won’t have much “slow feeding effect.” The 6cm size is also recommended for horses that don’t actually need slowing down. Broodmares, older horses and youngstock such as yearlings and 2-year-olds can benefit from this size. Always watch hoof size though and make sure that hoof size is larger than net size with young horses and ponies.  A hay ring may be necessary if this is an issue.

Quality of the net

The quality of the net should be one of your priorities when buying round bale hay net feeders. You will need something that is tough and durable as you will leave it on the area along with the hay. Buying a high-quality net will help you save money as it can’t be easily cut off by constant friction.

GutzBusta® Slow Feed Hay Nets now has two hay nets range - our original knotted nets that we’ve had great success with and our new knotless range

We’ve made our entire range of knotted nets in super-strong 60ply - 3cm, 4cm & 6cm. Our GutzBusta® Knotless Hay Nets are made from 240ply, super soft and 5mm thick and high strength PP (polypropylene) netting which is the strongest on the Australian market.

We’ve personally had our 60ply knotted nets in the last 2 to 6 years (with some minor repairs as the nets get older). At this stage, we can’t give you an exact time frame for the knotless as they are new to our range. However, we’ve been using them with our own horses for more than 6 months without a single issue and to date, we haven’t had any problems from our customers either. What we do know is this particular netting is tough and they can perform for up to 4 to 6 years.

Both the knotted and knotless hay nets are made from our very own GutzBusta® sizes that we have developed over the years with feedback from our customers. They are superior in size, strength and useability. Having a super wide mouth that makes them easy to fill is one of the greatest attributes of our nets. 

It’s also important to note that you cannot compare the knotted nets to the knotless ones in terms of ply as they are made of entirely different materials. Ply refers to how many individual strands are in each section of the netting. The strength is in how strong those individual strands are, how tight they are, and what material they are made from. So you are comparing apples to oranges if you are comparing knotless to knotted in terms of ply.

Choosing the right size

Whether you want to manage your horses’ weight or to significantly reduce hay wastage, our GutzBusta® hay net is your best friend. But before purchasing one, you need to choose a suitable size depending on where you purchase your hay from, how consistent they are in supplying the same size round bales each year, if you are in a drought prone area and therefore have no idea where your next supply of hay is from to name but a few things to think about.

This can be a difficult decision for some people and is highly dependent on your preference. If you don’t have a regular round bale supplier and you want the flexibility of being able to fit your hay net to various hay bale sizes, then our 6x4 GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net is the best size for you (available in 3cm, 4cm and 6cm).

6x4 Knotless GutzBusta Hay Net on a 4x4 round bale of hay

3cm GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net on a 4x4 round bale hay net

Available in both knotted and knotless, this size will allow you to fit your hay net to ALL sizes of round bales. The other benefit of this is it will also fit the GutzBusta Large Export 8x3x3 / 8x4x3 Bales which makes them fantastically adaptable to your changing needs.  

6x4 GutzBusta 4cm Hay net on a Large Square 8x3x3 Bale

However, if you have a regular supplier and you know that you’ll only get 4x4’s for example, then you only need to purchase the 4x4 round bale hay net. This is a great size even if you don’t have round bales as you can fit 6-10 small bales in them. Our hay nets are true to size, so if you only ever purchase 5x4’s or smaller, then you only need a 5x4 GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net.

4x4 GutzBusta 6cm Round Bale hay net on a 3x4 Round bale of hay

We have information here to help you know the measurements and how to fit a round bale hay net onto your round bale.

Shoes, small hooves and young stock

You need a hay ring or physical barrier (e.g. gates, hay hut) for your hay net if you are using any hay net with shod horses, or small horses or ponies, yearlings and foals where their feet are smaller than the netting itself . We have many happy customers doing this. In fact, if you use both our GutzBusta® Round Bale Hay Nets and hay ring together, you will notice that you will save even more on hay wastage. These two tools work wonderfully together as illustrated in the photo below. 

GutzBusta combined with hay ring

GutzBusta combined with hay ring 2

No wastage at all for this customer when they combined a hay ring with a GutzBusta® Hay Net.

Click here to know more about how to use hay nets for shod horses.

Another way to take up the slack of the netting if possible is to secure the net to a beam of a shed, or tree or something else that might work in your environment.

6x4 4cm GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net

Above shows tying up the drawstring to a beam of a shed to both take up the slack and remove the drawstring out of the road. Conversely you can put the drawstring under the round bale too.

Customer Ingenuity

Everyone’s individual feeding situation is different and we thought we would share below some of our customers great ideas that have worked well for them to save hay, keep it protected and their horses safe.

4x4 4cm GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net over water tank

This photo shows a 4x4 4cm GutzBusta® Round Bale Hay Net being used with a modified water tank to not only keep the hay protected from rain, but also allow a slow feeding benefit with an existing feeding set up!

4x4 4cm GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net over crate 

Another easy idea is using a 4x4 GutzBusta® Round Bale Hay Net to fully encapsulate a plastic crate.  This idea would work well with throwing in 4 to 6 small bales of hay into the container then pulling up the netting, pulling the drawstring tight and creating a large slow feeding station quick and easy. Once the hay net is initially fitted under the crate, this would be a quick and easy way to feed out a bulk amount of hay.

4x4 GutzBusta Round Bale Hay Net with 3 small bales in it

This was something we did with our own horses during the drought to prolong feeding times. We didn’t have access to any round bales at the time and since it never rained, there was no problem putting out a bulk amount of small square bales at a time. We therefore used a 4x4 4cm net in this photo to put 3 or 4 small bales of hay in at a time and then pulled the excess netting up over a tree branch and tied off. This worked well to have a large amount of hay out at a time, reduce feeding time and be reassured that my horses had 24/7 access to low sugar, quality hay.

We recently received 2 great photos from a valued customer. These photos were wonderful in showing the comparison of using BOTH a hay ring by itself and a GutzBusta® Round Bale Hay Net Feeder. As they say, a picture tells a 1000 words.

4cm GutzBusta Round Bale hay net

Left photo shows practically NO wastage using a 4cm GutzBusta® Round Bale Hay Net, while the photo on the right shows nothing but wasted hay while using a hay ring. But, as I said earlier, these 2 items of both hay net and hay ring used in combination work extremely well together


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