Slow Feed Hay Nets – recent forum discussions
It appears there is sudden surge of misinformation (or misleading information) on the web forums concerning the use of hay nets causing teeth and gum issues. The forum posts I have seen are not parts of any kind of official study and appear to be just assumptions made by a couple of individuals without any context of how they came to their conclusions.
From my own personal experience, the worst teeth I ever saw on a horse were ones that had never been on a net or worn a muzzle. She was a feral 10 yr old horse that had never even been haltered. Not a cribber either, her teeth looked terribly worn on the front. Anyone looking at her would have blamed hay nets and muzzles all day long and she was absolutely never exposed to them.
My 17 yr old horse has been on nets and muzzles her entire life, she has a very tiny bit of wear on her fronts at 17 yrs old (No one can say for sure if it’s the nets/various muzzles or just age that caused it). I can however tell you she would be likely be dead without using muzzles and small hole slow feed hay nets as she never stops eating. She is also IR and PSSM1 and prone to laminitis. As with anything horse related you should use common sense and weigh out the potential benefits vs potential consequences.
Wire grates are an issue, imagine rubbing your teeth and gums on metal, we would never suggest using that for slow feeding. Hanging nets too high (or any feeder type) which causes horses to contort their heads and necks can be an issue and should be avoided if possible.
There have been numerous actual studies that show the benefits of slow feeders when used properly.
Helpful links below