Hay Optimizer Feeder

Anyone using one of these?


I am debating trying one. I would like to do round bales and hay huts, but logistically that is not possible right now for several reasons. This may accomplish the same goals, but I have some concerns and don’t personally know anyone who has used one. Hoping to find some more first hand experiences by posting here!

That’s a neat piece of equipment. I’ll be interested to hear any reviews too!

We have several at my barn and they are super! Easy to fill, easy to move around, sturdy and relatively hazard free except for a small clip on the outside and haven’t blown over in 100 km/hr winds.


That looks like a nifty set up. I find it weird that they do not offer replacement nets.

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All the paddocks, big and small, at my horse’s current boarding barn have at least one of them. They seem to work really well and keep the hay pretty contained. The hay seems easy to access and the horses eat contentedly out of them.

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Wow that is nice, but pricey for basically just a box with a net. I made something very similar out of lumber using the Slow Grazer plans. I have used it with their grate but also with nets (I put the grate underneath the hay and clip the net to the grate to hold it in place). It cost way less than $900 and has held up well (it’s 6 years old now).


@Spud_amp_Saf and @NoGreatMischiefAgain (and @Libby2563 too because your awesome feeder looks similarly sized) How do you think they are compared to round bales when it comes to horses sharing? Round bales are large enough that a few horses usually feel comfortable sharing, even if there is a bully in the herd. My biggest concern is the smaller footprint and my alpha mare chasing off the others.

My other concern is the horses moving it or flipping it over. Does that ever happen?

That was my thought too, libby- they are charging $1000 for essentially a trough on blocks with a hay net in it! I guess if people have disposable cash, why not (why don’t I think of these things?). Yes, you could make a device like that for much cheaper, and customize it for your situation. But if you have the $$$, like the concept, & just want the convenience factor, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

I agree with wildlifer, though for me I would mumble because it is so expensive compared with a stock tank plus a slow-feeder net, and the horses aren’t really eating with their heads down. And at 100 lbs, while it might not tip over easily, for me it would be hard to move around if I wanted to move it around. Also, I am not sure I want to be lifting bales of hay up and over the walls of the Optimizer, vs something much lower like a giant feed tub or just a net on well-maintained ground.

But sometimes these things are just kind of fun to have, because they make us feel in control. :slight_smile: (Says she whose Porta-Grazer is gathering dust somewhere, I don’t even know where, because while it worked just fine, it wasn’t enough of a “better mousetrap” to be worth dealing with).

See, I don’t think this is equivalent to a trough with a net at all. A trough is much smaller and deeper. I would need to set up multiple to have the same footprint. The width is a necessity because I have a mare who will chase off her buddies, who need the hay more than her. Plus, a trough and net are usually set up with hay bags you have to fill. Not a huge inconvenience, but not as simple as dropping the bale in and sliding the net across.

If I built a box, it could be the size I want, but I would have to, uh, build it. That would be a lot cheaper, but not free. Plus I need the time to build it.

I agree the price is steep, but if it’s something that will last longer than wood out in the elements, it may be worth it. It costs about the same as a hay hut. I do wonder if at only 100lbs, if the horses can abuse it. I also wonder how the net and moving parts will hold up.

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I think the sharing issue is a legitimate concern with a dominant horse. My original herd of three (pictured) shared well but I don’t think my current herd of three would because the TB is a jerk and the new 3-year-old is a chicken. I’ve actually had mine under the Hay Hut for the past few years because wet hay apparently turns toxic around here. :roll_eyes: With 3+ horses and a dominant one, I would want two feeders but $$$$! Mine is 4’ x 4’ FWIW.

My feeder has never been moved or flipped but it doesn’t have legs and probably weighs more than 100 lb.

Not everyone has the skills to build something like this that will be herd safe (no sharp corners ,etc). Sure, it costs a bit, but when you compare it to the cost of supplies (wood is not cheap) and the time it would take to make such a thing I am betting the price is not crazy out of line.

I think the added height helps with the sharing aspect. Easier for the lower horses to move away, less easy for the bully to reach across as much.


Your wet hay is toxic, too? What a coincidence!

Any hay that touches the ground is instantly poisonous around here. :rofl:

You are kind of confirming my fears that my jerky mare would keep scaring the other two away. A big round bale provides somewhat of a physical barrier to make the horses feel safer, but a 4x4 square isn’t tall enough to block the mare glares.

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Or you could but a large water trough/tank and place bagged hay in it for a fraction of the cost. We have Hay Chix west coast nets that hold 100 lbs of hay. We place them inside a big trough for feeding. They make many sizes of nets, and even sell just the netting material if you want to DIY something similar to this. I’m guessing it could be done more affordably.

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I have a Tartar Hay basket, to which I fitted a net purchased from a sporting supply company. Has never blown over, even in very high winds, yet I’ve been able to move it by myself when necessary (not my favorite thing, as I’m small and I’d rather my tall husband do it, but I can).

Basically the same idea, for hundreds less, and the horses have their heads in what I consider to be a more natural feeding position.

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@Texarkana I think if your alpha is the pushy/bully type, the feeder won’t deter that behaviour. Their heads are definitely at glare level in close proximity - the feeders aren’t that high off the ground and they’re not particularly big across. I haven’t heard of any issues with these feeders being flipped over, the Optimizer is squat and it would take a bit of maneuvering to accomplish that I’d think, and these horses just aren’t that motivated.

Another idea - at our previous barn, they used a giant plastic bulk container/crate which sat on its built in pallet with a net fastened on top (or not, depending on the turnout group) - if you google “bulk containers” you can get an idea of what they looked like. They didn’t feed round bales but the giant square bales… lots of hay could fit into the containers and since they were bigger there was more room for peace and harmony. The BO would use the tractor’s forks attachment to pick them up, load them up with hay in the barn, and then take them back out to the paddocks. If you can find them, they could be cheaper than the Optimizer but also a bit taller and more substantial to help keep the mare glare to herself. If your paddocks are relatively mud free you could definitely take the hay out to them as well. Previous BO worked at a car manufacturing plant so was able to get some used ones for cheap - I’d imagine they’re available for sale elsewhere too.

@SharonA1 The walls of the Optimizer aren’t all that high, it would take less effort by the spaghetti armed among us (like myself lol) to get small squares into it than it would to stack hay more than 2 bales high or to toss hay into a pickup truck bed. Of course if those actions are hard for you (the general you) then yes, it could be a problem.

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Have you seen the price on these lately? The Tarter feeder itself is only about $200 less. But I have considered them as well! I had a horse jump into one once, so I’m a little gun shy.

This is my hay house. My husband built it out of old lumber projects on the property. We only had to buy two 2x4s and some screws. It holds an 1000 pound round bale which we put in with our tractor. The panel on the front right that is a little lower is held on with a few screws. Everything else is framed with old pallets. Works really well.


Thanks for the info! It’s sounding more and more like I need to stick with different options because of my idiot mare. Sigh. But this is all really helpful!

Anything that requires a tractor isn’t feasible at the moment unfortunately.

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That is awesome! Can you move it? I actually hope to convince Mr. Texarkana to build one of these in the future. Right now it is very low on the project list, though.