The first thing most people want to know about our round bale hay net is how long will my hay last. On average, most owners get 3-5 extra days out of a bale and experience an increase in hay savings upwards of 50%. Some may get even more than that. There are a number of factors that affect bale life.
Do you have 2 horses or 20? Obviously, a bale will last much longer with 2 horses than with 20. Most owners with 2 or 3 horses get 7-14 more days out of a bale with a 1.75" hole. For example, this time lapse video shows one bale being eaten by 3 horses over a period of 22 days.
We have 6 horses at the Texas Haynet barn. One round bale lasts about 8-10 days using our regular round bale hay net with 1.75" holes. Without a net, a bale lasts approximately 5-6 days and half of it is wasted. Once the hay hits the ground, it gets urinated and defecated on or they use it as a bed and refuse to eat it.
Typically, the higher quality the forage the faster they will eat it.
Some varieties of grass are more palatable than others. Meaning that some types of hay are tastier and more appetizing than others. For example, alfalfa is usually favored over mixed grass. If you were to put out a bale of each at the same time, you can bet they will tear through the alfalfa first and consume it much faster than the mix. They may not even touch the mix until the alfalfa is completely gone and even then they may take their time picking through it.
Another great example of this comes from our facility. When we put out Bermuda rolls, we know the bale will be gone in 7 days or less. No exceptions. However, when we throw out a mix grass bale it can take up to 2 weeks, especially if the weather is nice.
Bale Size and Hole Size
Are you feeding a 4x4 or 6x6? Naturally, a bigger bale will last longer.
The smaller the holes in the net, the longer it takes for them to work through the bale. Large holes eliminate waste, but don't slow down the rate of consumption as much.
Cold weather = increased intake. During cold periods, horses will consume more hay. Additional calories are needed to keep warm so survival mode kicks in. You may notice they spend more time at the bale in the winter, especially when a harsh cold snap hits. During the winter months, you can expect the shortest bale life.
Spring, summer, and fall generally yield the longest bale life. Horses eat at more leisurely pace and tend to engage more in other herd activities. As the weather warms up, the calorie requirement drops and they are not as focused on consumption.