Monday, June 10, 2013

Hi Folks,  I know I haven't blogged in a while, sorry.  I have been going through several trial and errors with the hay boxes and how to build a netting frame.  Long story shortened: I first made out of pvc which was very light weight.  Many people use a metal grate in a hay box but the were several reasons I didnt want to go that route.  First the holes are way too big, generally at least 2".  2ndly I have heard some issues with chipped front teeth when they get too aggressive trying to get the hay out.  I had found a great youtube video from the Money Pit Ranch on the hay net(s) they had made for their hay boxes.  I really liked their design so I worked off of it.

This is the hay box made by a carpenter about 20 miles away (found via craigslist!)  He had never made a box for minis before and we discussed a height of 15" but we had a communication difference of side height vs total height.  Once he had the feet on it it was a good 18.5" and you can see it was too tall for Badger.  He came to pick it up and get a visual and I had it back in a few days. 

This is the same box with the light weight pvc frame and too taut netting. 

Now the netting I used is a square 3/4" mesh.  I had ordered hay net bags that were 1" mesh and I thought they were pulling too much hay out at a time, too fast.  But this 3/4" seemed too small.  After pondering for a while and watching them eat out the hay net bags I started thinking my netting was pulled too taut.  Which I did do intentionally.  BTW its a real pain to put the netting on.  On the pvc I threaded the netting, having to continually pull the excess through.  Then I got the bright idea to weave the pipe through.  While easier and way faster the corners were an issue.  Having to leave a quite a bit unwoven so you can connect the corners. 

Heres a video of Badger eating out of the taut mesh.  OK I know the video is sideways.  I used my iphone and I hold just like I would to take a pic but ALL of videos play sideways.  I go to edit put it does not give me the option to rotate.  So sorry if you get a crick in your neck or you get nauseous. You can see its very difficult to get the hay out of it being so taut.  They would walk away and go scavenge off the ground.

So after watching them eat of the hay bags and then consulting with the hay bag net ladies from Cinch Chix (great nets btw) they suggested the netting be looser.  If you watch eating from a net you will notice how they push pretty far down and pull up which they couldn't do on a taut net.  So here is the metal frame with loose net......  I obviously didn't get the elbow set screws tightened down enough!  Before I discovered it like this thye ate about 2 flakes of hay!!!  You know I worked so hard for years to get the weight off Pistol and Pedro and now with this free-feeding they look like they pregnant with twins! 

Here is another sideways video of them eating out of the loose mesh.

You may remember the original hay box my son made from previous posts.  I made several net frames for it as well.  It was his first try and neither of us thought about the issue of inside corner pieces interring with a frame.  First I made with the 90 degree conduit elbows but it left too much room on the sides for them to pull hay from.  So I found these pull through elbows that have a flattened 45 degree angle, perfect for our inside corners.  Then we had to deal with a way to keep the net inside the box.  So here is the video for that box.  I had also made a too taut net and made again looser. 

So I think I finally have the net frame issue settled.  I will have to keep checking to make sure the set screws don't loosen and the frame doesn't come apart.  If all else fails I can make my own net bags out of the 3/4" mesh and attached to the floor of the box with an eye-screw.