Safe way to feed hay to mare and foal but also prevents waste

Hi all, my pony mare is expecting her first foal and I was wondering if you have any suggestions on feeding her hay?
Right now, she is fed from a 1x1 inch holed hay net hung by a hay hoop.
I know foals can hurt themselves on anything so I figure the net and hoop have to go.
Do you have any suggestions to prevent waste that is safe for the little one? Or do I just have to accept it’s inevitable?
Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Personally, my choice is to accept the inevitable and throw it on the ground. Baby horses are suicidal. Plus you want baby to learn to nibble at it, too.


I used a slow feed hay net. The openings are too small to catch foal feet, and it isn’t something they can knock down. Mine is attached directly onto the fence with a wood frame.

I would be very reluctant to use a hay net out with a baby. Even a small hole one. The Twerking of their neck and “snatching” is problematic for grown-ups, I simply wouldn’t want a baby horse to do that repetitive motion.

I’m afraid I would feed on the ground, on a mat for a while. And then after the baby is over it’s first month of its suicide mission, maybe you could go to a corner hay bunker. It could be just simply boards across the corner… But of course a baby could kill itself on anything. I used a noble corner-feeder with mine, but he was a big warm blood baby, so he could reach in. The rim was chest high on him.


I use large rubber water troughs and put hay in them. They are indestructible and safe. I’ve had horses and foals jump on them and walk on them, no issues. It isn’t quite as tidy as a slow feed net but they are safer IMO. I worry about tiny hooves getting caught in nets (nets break and form larger holes) or the nets getting untied/pulled down and the string from the hay net getting wrapped around foal legs. Plus they are still eating from a head down position.


I’ve used a hay pillow for minis. The website is

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Lots of holes for baby hooves. :frowning:

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They holes are very small in the mini. Safe for a 6 hand mare and foal. Not safe for camels or alpacas as they have sharp cloven toes. Edit to remind they come in different sizes and the very smallest is like crochet. Perhaps 3 lbs of hay max fit in it. That’s my experience with the product, first hand. And any hay net, bag or feeder will have holes, ya know so they can eat the hay.

Thanks everyone. I guess the floor is the safest place.
Thanks again for your thoughts!

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I have an old galvanized steel water trough that’s rusted on bottom and can’t hold water for long anymore. I now use it occasionally to put hay in. While the horses can still dribble hay on the ground as they eat, for the most part it stays in the trough. They can’t paw at the hay to scatter it, nor pee on it, but of course an enterprising horse could still poop in it. Best of all, their heads are still lowered in a normal grazing position.

I have always fed my horses on the ground. Mares and foals included. If the hay is good I have always found mine eat most every scrap. I fed inside but they were never locked inside the stalls. That helps.

I couldn’t find one of the many tub pictures with foals trapped I’ve seen over the years, but I did find this article that says it well "Avoid using feeders or waterers that a foal can get trapped in. (Author’s note: I know of at least one foal that died after climbing into an old tractor tire that was used as a hay feeder. He laid down, but got his head and neck stuck inside the tire rim. When he tried to get up, he panicked. The result was disastrous.) Even though foal safety and horse safety are basically interchangeable, foals can get into places a grown horse cannot. You must always look at any horse facility and ask yourself, “How can a horse possibly get hurt here and what can I do to prevent that?”

Glad you are going on the ground