Hartpury equine students’ research provides food for thought on helping to reduce horse frustration

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Equine

A new type of hay net could help reduce stress in horses while they’re eating, that’s according to recent research by two University Centre Hartpury graduates. 

Amy Palk and Jenna Jarvis, both 21, used their final-year research project to put the HayGrazer Play to the test. Their initial findings showed that the new net encouraged slower feeding patterns while also reducing signs of frustration from the horse.

The pair observed horses receiving their evening hay and focused on the amount of hay eaten, the horses’ feeding motivation and their frustration levels. Amy, an Equine Science graduate, and Jenna, an Equine Management graduate, monitored horses eating from the ground, a small-holed hay net, and the HayGrazer Play.

Their research showed that, on average, 46% less hay was consumed within an hour when using the HayGrazer Play compared to hay being fed on the ground. It also highlighted that the horses showed increased frustration using a small-holed hay net in comparison to the HayGrazer. This would suggest that the HayGrazer Play can stimulate trickle feeding in the horse and increase the time that the horse spends eating.

The feeding bag is designed to include larger holes at the top and smaller holes at the bottom. This is so that the horse has easier access through the big holes when the hay is first fed, before the smaller holes stimulate the trickle feeding behaviour.

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