Need COTH Help on Hay Huts, Bale Barns, Etc.

So, we finally sold our other house and can start fixing up this one. So far, we bought the Gravely Zero Turn for mowing anda Kawasaki Mule for cleaning stalls as the compost pile is far away (it’ll be the workhorse of our farm in other ways). Hopefully soon, we’ll start the dry lot which we desperately need. I’m stuck between the Hay Hut and Bale Barn. I’m going through square bales like crazy as I don’t have enough forage at this time. A friend bought a hay hut and it saved her over $100 a month for 5 horses (all geldings). I have two mares and one insists on showing that she’s dominant. Any preferences? Pros/cons? The Bale Barn comes with a slow feed hay net. I’ve heard that some hay nets aren’t good for horses’ teeth. Anyone have a problem with this? Thanks in advance!

If you’re able to do what ChocoMare does, that looks just about perfect.

The barn owner where we board invested in a bunch of hay huts several years ago. Unfortunately, the guys who work for him didn’t treat them very well and they weren’t stored properly in the off season, so these lovely expensive things are now sort of warped and crazy looking. Some boarders invested in nets, and the barn guys try to get away with not flipping the bale over after the net is put on, so the horses are able to push the net aside and bury their heads - the whole purpose of having a net was to keep the heavey ones from rooting into the bale. All this to say: the human side is what determines whether the equipment is going to work, or not.

On the plus side: the mud problem has been significantly improved by using hay huts and nets. Less loose hay on the ground makes a HUGE difference. Two hay huts for 10 horses and all are able to move around and eat as they wish. Hay huts will hold a large square or round bale or a whole bunch of small squares, creating options. Regarding nets and teeth: our vet thinks she sees more of a negative effect from grazing muzzles than from nets, and in the end, her comment is “if I were a horse I’d rather have ulcers than laminitis.”


I’m really happy with my HayHut. It was expensive ($800) but it is safer than any other hay feeder we’ve used, and it also keeps the ones that are more likely to bully others more preoccupied (they can’t chase around the roundbale without extracting their head from the hole first - it ends up being too much effort).

We still get wastage, but I don’t use a net. I thought about it, but all the nets I’ve found are $300+!

It does a great job of keeping the bale dry/free of elements. Really no complaints with it. It is heavy and can be a PITA to move without equipment, but I can move it myself if I need to.


We went cheap and built basic wood corrals for about $75. Two fields have 2 and one field has 1. We use a pallet in the bottom. On the last one I built we tacked netting on the inside and that helps a lot. There is still some waste but way less than just throwing it out in the field. I took 12 pick-up truck loads of hay waste out of the 3 fields before we built the corrals. I board and the fields had not been clean up for at least a year before that point.

There are 2 other trainers on the property and one brough a few hay huts and they work very well. She and the other trainer built wood corrals for the other fields that don’t have the hay huts. Their handyman built one with a roof.

The corrals are just a rectangle that is about 3 feet tall with three rails. Corners are 4x4 and rails are deck wood. Glued and screwed. There is one field that has a cribber and that corral is holding up well.

It is a cheap alternative or short term solution. You probably could use a big hay net in the corrals or put the netting on the inside like I did to reduce the waste.

These are pretty easiy to move and fill. We have ours on the fenceline so they can get to 3 sides but it can be filled over the fence.

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@KLeaphart Great article. We’ve been feeding on the ground and it’s hurting the grass underneath.

@ChocoMare I had to look up hay cradle. I’ve seen some of those designs before, just never knew what they were called. Thanks, that’s sounds like an awesome way to do it!

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Anyone have a Bale Barn or know someone who does? Likes? Dislikes? Still trying to decide how to do this.

We have always fed in the shelters. We build a “corral” as described above in the middle of the shelter and put the round bales, netted in it. This is great because it keeps it dry, no waste, etc. on my personal farm, I use full bale nets instead if rounds. but if you have a lot of horses in a field, it wouldn’t work as well. I usually just have 1-2 per paddock. My concern about the hay huts is that I leave my horses out all the time, and when the weather is bad they’d have to stand out in it to eat. If you live somewhere warmer that isn’t such a big deal I am sure but here we get weeks at subzero sometimes, and the snow blows sideways. I like them eating under the shelter. Otherwise I’d probably feel obliged to stall them in bad weather, which I can do but they prefer to be out.

with the big nets/round bales, it is easiest to net them while they are still on the spear of the tractor. then you can place them without worrying about flipping them over or anything and you can get all sides in the net.

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With the hay hut, the unfriendly business is really cut down since, in my experience, horses feel more like their ‘cubby’ is unthreatened. There’s not much vision obstruction so the horses are never unaware of a bully approaching them - they can see it easily. It is not a small hole by any means - my 17h horse has ample room to spare when he grazes in it.

Not saying it’s impossible to get hurt, but it’s not a concern for me after seeing how the Hay-Hut changed the feeding pattern in our herd. My personal gelding is a real bully about hay, to the point where in the old round bale feeder (standard cattle feeder) every horse was doing the shuffle round and round the feeder endlessly. Having the Hay Hut has cut that behavior down significantly since I don’t think he (or the others) feel like their space is being encroached upon anymore.


@halt My bully is not a bully just about feed, she is just a bully.

I worry that the others would be at risk if they are eating and she is not.
I can totally see how it would work great while they are all eating.

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This brings back memories when we bought several round bales and put them in the gelding pen. My gelding had a round bale all to himself for 3 days. No other horse even bothered coming close. I appreciate the memory of a horse now gone.

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@Brian Attaching the hay net to the round bale is an exceptional idea. That’s what Bale Barn does. If I end up buying the Hay Hut, I’ll fix it that way. Thanks so much for the great idea!

Alas, round bale nets won’t attach to a Hay Hut for an easy flip over. The base of the Hut is too WIDE.

I lived without a tractor for many years and successfully pushed the round bale out with much grunting… most of the time, tho, I had help.

Out it rolls, flip it on it’s flat side, cover with the net and flip again. Roll as you pull the net toward you and tighten the hoggle. I prefer to twist the excess netting back on itself like a big Hair Bun, then wrap the excess cord around.

Roll the netted bale into your hay cradle and flip the Hay Hut over it.

The cradle is key to ensuring the whole bale can be consumed, since it keeps it up off the wet ground.

Of course, the whole process is easier now that I have a Kubuta with a front end loader :wink:


@ChocoMare If I used a pallet vs a hay cradle would that work? If not, what hay cradle did you buy? Thanks!!!

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I bought a Hay Hut two winters ago and had issues with my horses rubbing their manes out (thread here:…damaging-manes). I figured out that the dominant horse was menacing the other one while they both had their heads inside. The dominant one rubbed his mane off charging at the other, and the other one rubbed his mane off backing out quickly to escape him. Horses!


We got some Nag bag poly ring feeders last year.

These are even easy for one person to flip over. Net is attached to the feeder by zip ties. I did have to double the amount of ties we used but I love these. We feed 4x4x8 bales so we need to take part of the bale and place it on top. We’ve worked out a pretty good way to do it and we are really happy with them.


Yeah, that would work.

Alas, the cradle I have is no longer manufactured. It had been made by the folks at Red River Arenas and rocked for easy hand loading by a person.

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Thanks @ChocoMare!

Couple of things…

First, a round bale net isn’t what I’d use. I’d use an oversized flat sheet of netting. If you can’t find one large enough, let me know, we custom cut netting to size needed.

Secondly, the netting doesn’t need to be attached to the base of the hut. You can reduce the size needed by mounting the net frame just below the window. Since the netting will be large enough to cover the bale, it’ll also allow the horses to reach the hay on the bottom.


You’re very welcome!

Turns out, no one in the U.S. has that cradle anymore. Totally out of production.

It won’t be cheap, but there is a North American distributor for the Bale Jail Cradle from Advantage Feeders. I’m waiting on a full price, plus shipping.

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