I have been feeding hay off the floor since we got our horses, it just never occured to me to do it another way and have since found out that this is the correct position for horses to eat in etc etc. However, now that they have this parradise pasture system i am finding that because they are wlaking around more they are trampling their hay a lot more and there is a lot more wastage. We have also had high winds recently and have lost a lot to that as well.
I would like to comment and also direct you to another source of information about this matter of 'slow feeding' hay. That is what you are describing, of course.
JoAnn is a terrific resource on both successes and challenges with various forms of slow feeding methods and apparatus. She experiments with building and using various methods. She is also a good contact point for others doing the same.
Here are a few from her page on the slow feeder subject:http://paddockparadise.wetpaint.com/page/Slow+Feeders
And a picture of just one of them:
You can also google on the subject and find a few more, some I think closer to you on the planet and more likely to know where to get materials you could access more easily.
Here is an example of googling on [slow feeders horses]. It would keep a person busy reading for hours to follow up on all the 'hits.'http://tinyurl.com/olm7zw
I have been looking for another solution and have seen these wonderful looking huge long haynets that are strung up at ground level between two trees or fence posts. They look like a good idea but cost about Â£50 to Â£60. I was planning on making two or three different permanent eating areas for them to walk between as well as the small areas of green pasture they will have access to.
I do not know the bags you are describing but I'd personally be wary of things strung between trees. Horses are notorious for finding ways to get in trouble. When I was a kid in ranch country the old timers had a saying that demonstrated it. "If you are looking for stray bits of barbwire in a field, just turn a horse. He'll find it for you the same day." Sadly usually wrapped up around a leg, and cut to pieces.
And there's a high likelihood that one or more horses would take to hanging onto the net contraption to pull it apart. I think we battle millions of years of evolution in our hay feeding practices.
The horse took a bite, and walked and chewed, bit again, then walked and chewed sometimes for the entire day, and in hard times even through the night.
In nature they tended to be found in, and likely evolved into their present form in, pretty sparse country, more barren than lush.
It's why I think the Paddock Paradise concept is having such success. Even if small in size, if the length is sufficient and the horse has to do a lot of walking I think they are healthier. Nature should be our teacher on this when possible, and you appear to be well aware of this in your desire to feed hay more naturally.
Since reading in to all this stuff I have found that feeding a horse off the ground means it can fill it's mouth with hay (something mine often do) and doing this means they don't chew properly and therefore eat more and are full quicker but don't get the advantage of the nutrients from the hay they would have if they had eaten more slowly.
So...what I was wondering was, why couldn't I just use those small hole (4cm) normal haynets, hang them off trees or fence posts at the same level as the large ones (ground level but off the floor, if you get what I mean) using hooks through the actual net not using the tie string at the top so that they would be secured top and bottom to the tree and tie the string up out of the way or somehow secure it so that is didn't get in the way. surely for unshod horses with such tiny holes in the haynet it would work well...? The horses should eat slower and cause less wastage and be safe? Or not, what do you think? Does anyone have experiences with this kind of thing? Or is just feeding off the floor the best thing? I also read it's not good regarding worms etc for them to eat hay off the floor. Agghh, so much contradicting information.
Your conclusion is the same one I've come to. I'd be inclined, and it's the direction I'm headed with my own Paddock setup, to go with more smaller bags spread out over a longer distance. And hung so the horse cannot reach the fastener even if it means eating overhead a bit.
Can't speak about others horses, but mine tends to pull a great deal of hay, even with small holes, and drop it on the ground and eat the bites she gets, then later go to the "litter," pile under the bag and try to clean that up. The effect is the same, a bit of feed at a time, having to walk between some bites and the next.
I even wonder sometimes
if they'd really waste all that much if we spread the day's hay ration from one end of the Paddock Paradise run to the other evenly. If done by the handsfulls it would be closer to the wild state for them. Walking and eating the whole meal.
You'll also find some interesting discussions of the problems with, and some victories, with slow feeding on the ECPhotos yahoo interest group.
This link takes you through the yahoo signin (or 'open a new account') page first, of course. But it's well worth the few minutes is might take to open a new account for all the information about horse care and this topic. https://login.yahoo.com/config/login_verify2?.intl=us&.src=ygrp&.done=http%3a//pets.groups.yahoo.com%2Fgroup%2FECPhotos%2Fmessages
Best wishes, Donald