Are hay huts worth the money? Does it save you money? Safe?
Short answer: I have no experience with hay huts, but I think if I fed round bales I might consider.
Longer answer: We feed rectangular bales (all the round bales in this part of the world go to cows, pretty much). Our horses get a couple of flakes in the morning and one each at lunch this time of year. We built wooden hayboxes about 2x3, 2 feet deep from scrap plywood trimmed with PT scrap. They really save on hay because they decrease waste. Hay is up out of the mud (there are drain holes in the bottom of the boxes and they have feet) and the wind doesn’t blow the hay away. We have had no safety issues in the 5 or so years we’ve used them, although one got kicked to bits once. We space them carefully so that the dominant horse doesn’t get to claim all of them and there’s plenty of escape room.
I have a couple of leftover hay piles that I have to remove so am hoping they save money!
Lots of people love them.
A hay hut with a hay net will keep your hay covered and slow the eating down.
We considered purchasing or building a roofed hay hut, and opted not to, due to a concern of them being a challenge to move around the field. Round bale feeders, both traditional style, and a square elevated hay saver model left us with multiple small feeding injuries (think scrapes and small cuts).
We have a few sheep so put a Marweld basket feeder designed for sheep out to see how the horses liked it. Basket Feeder for Sheep - Marweld It is perfect!! Horses easily reach over top, but their bodies do not connect with the feeder. No injuries. The bale is positioned side lying, so no sticking heads into the bale. VERY little waste, and hay stays put in pretty strong winds.
I have four of the Cashman’s version and I love them. They have been in use for years with mixed herds ranging from foals to retirees. No injuries (knock on wood) and they’ve held up beautifully to crazy weather and young horse antics. I haven’t had any issues with mane rubbing, possibly due to the larger openings and rounded edges on the Cashman’s.
We got the bale barn and absolutely love it. A roundbale stays “good” for weeks with hardly any waste. I’ve had it 2 yrs and seems indestructible so far. It was a great purchase.
I use them for rounds, but you could just as easily use it to cover a pile of large or small squares.
I will say though that they’re really ugly. A well-built feeding station with a roof would look much prettier in my barnyard.
Just be careful with horses prone to allergies or coughing. The dust gets stirred up from pulling at the hay but doesn’t blow away due to the enclosure. Sensitive horses sometimes can’t use them.
Eh. I do think covering hay helps with waste a lot, but I don’t really like my Hay Hut. It was crazy expensive and still a bunch of the holes used to bolt it together don’t line up. One of my horses rubs his mane out on it somehow just by eating. In theory it can cut down on hay hoarding/bullying, but if one horse is determined to be a jerk it can make the others quite nervous to have their heads all the way inside. I won’t sell mine because I’m sure I’d lose too much money, but I also wouldn’t buy it again. If you’re handy at all I think you could build something better and cheaper.
Also, if I don’t use a net, my horses will pull hay out of the Hay Hut and then refuse to eat it once it touches the ground. I do see people using them without nets but you can get a Bale Barn with a built-in net if that’s of interest.
Love my hay hut! They can still drag some hay out of it for the first few days, but it is considerably less waste than no hay hut (I don’t use a hay net). Mine is on the dry lot which means I have to remove all the hay regularly. I set the bale on a pallet, it’s pretty easy to clean up the scrape and 4000x easier than cleaning up a soggy wet crap filled pile a la pre hay hut!
Well, I do have to give the Hay Hut points for safety! I have a 4’x4’ homemade wooden Slow Grazer inside mine (I’ve given up on roundbales) and when I went to refill it this morning, I couldn’t find the latch at first. I thought I was going crazy for a second. Overnight, the horses had rotated the Hay Hut and the rather heavy Slow Grazer exactly 90 degrees. No one had a scratch on them (other than more lost mane, I’m sure).
I looked into that sheep feeder and holy heck - it’s expensive!
I’ve been using a nibble-net and a round bale feeder for years with the only (knock wood) injury sustained being an injury to me. My biggest horse doesn’t lose her mane, but the smaller ones do.
Just this afternoon I realized I can wrap a pig-panel around my 5’ diameter round bale. I will try that tomorrow and report back.
And BTW, I only feed round bales in the winter when they won’t mold. In the summer my herd is on pasture, during the shoulder seasons I feed square bales to eliminate mold issues.
I had read a bunch of reviews that said that same thing, which is what made me go with the Bale Barn (with its one piece construction). That does make it a pain to get home–it’s essentially an 8ft cube–but I winch-strapped it to my 8x10 utility trailer, and it worked out fine.
I put down a bunch of stall mats that extend a few feet on all sides of the bale barn. The bale doesn’t absorb ground moisture and any hay that gets pulled out and trampled on is easy to pick up.
Thanks for all the replies. I have bitten the bullet and am getting it delivered this week. I ran into an old friend at southern states who actually bought her first one used for just $50 less than the new ones and then she bought another one. I think if I hate it and only lose $50-100 on reselling it, thats not bad if I make good use of it for a bit.
I think my horses are going to freak out when they see it though… lol. Lets see if they figure it out!
I pair my Hay Hut with a Hay Chix round-bale net. I then push the netted bale up on 2 pallets and cover it with the Hay Hut. Less than 1% waste (and that’s usually only the seed heads) and no fighting. I’ve done this for the last 8 years.
Haha, good luck!! I had a horse this fall (my hardest keeper, of course) who refused to stick his head inside it, partially out of fear of the two more dominant horses. I tried hand-feeding him hay and treats from inside and even with no other horses around he would only reluctantly take them. Thankfully he sold before winter really set in, or I would have had to rethink my whole hay feeding system to keep him from starving.
oh no! Thankfully I only have two at home so hopefully that won’t happen!
I only had three! But this horse was a big chicken apparently. I’m sure you’ll be okay, none of my others have ever had an issue.
Given the prevalence of hay huts and bale barns, I gotta believe that horse is an outlier. And I’ve only got two, my Fjord, bottom of any pecking order and my early retiree, who is a serious problem child when it comes to sharing his space (I call him Xan’s “abusive boyfriend”) and they get along just fine. Xan keeps an eye on when Lido leaves his station and just moved over to the other side when the thug just had to come see if that side of the round bale tastes better.
I have had my two huts for probably 10 years. They have gotten to the point where they have some cracks, but my hubbie just keeps putting them back together.
From my years of experience, I suggest putting 2x4 lumber around the bottom, either inside or out. Just gives them some stability. We also have ours tethered to a large tire that we put the round bales on to keep the hay from sitting on the ground. We occasionally get some strong winds that will blow the huts over, but they at least don’t end up halfway across the pasture.