Posted by: Realist | September 20, 2009

Cow Feeder and Rubbed Manes

When we first got a round bale hay feeder, we bought the “tombstone” style feeder for horses from Tractor Supply, and not the cow style feeder.  Supposedly horses could rub their manes out with the cow style feeders.  After a couple years, our horses had broken off most of the tombstones simply by pushing on them.  Here’s a picture of the result:

tombstone style hay feeder

Every time a tombstone broke off, I’d hammer down the sharp edges left on the feeder with a hammer and we’d keep using it.  Eventually, after enough tombstones broke off, the feeder stopped holding in the hay, and lots of hay ended up wasted.  The guy who sells us the hay said many of his horse-owning customers use the cow-style feeder with good results.  I asked about the mane rubbing issue, and he said he hadn’t heard of it.  So, somewhat dubious, we went ahead and bought a cow style feeder from him.

cow style hay feeder

It seemed to hold the hay in just fine.  Unfortunately, soon after we noticed the dreaded rubbed mane.  Then it got worse and we noticed that some of the coat was also rubbed off.

Mane and coat rubbed from cow hay feeder

Supposedly, as the hay gets lower, the horses insert their heads through the side of the feeder instead of over the top.  Then the top bar rubs against their mane, rubbing it off.  I also started worrying what might happen if the horses were startled while their heads were inserted into the side of the feeder, might they knock their heads and get injured?

So the warnings about the cow hay feeders were in fact true.  The problem is the horse tombstone feeders didn’t last very long.  Perhaps we bought a cheap one?  I recall it was a few hundred dollars from Tractor Supply, so it wasn’t that cheap.



  1. I have been hunting for the perfect round bale feeder too and ended up getting the Big Bale Buddy. LOVE IT! Keeps all the hay in one spot with hardly any waste. I wrote up a review about it at Good luck this winter!

  2. I know this is an old post but wanted to share a tip about using the cow feeders for horses. I tried it at first too and also had a horse with rubbed mane and another horse had actually gotten his head stuck and flipped the feeder up and off of the round bale trying to free himself. Needless to say I was VERY thankful that his only injuries were superficial scrapes! I also has a bar or two missing (I purchased mine used off of CL) and would lose some hay through that spot.

    I solved ALL of those problems with a roll of green snow fence and several zip ties! The horses have to reach over the top to eat, there is no place for heads, feet, etc to get stuck and there is even less waste. I do have to keep an eye on the snow fencing but so far I have only had one minor tear that was a simple fix using a couple zip ties. I feed squares in good weather, but this “system” worked all winter and early spring.

  3. Lizzard – I REALLY appreciate your post! I just got a cow round bale feeder (local FHA makes & sells ’em for $150 & that’s all I could afford). Anyway, my horse has been rubbing off a lot of hair on her neck & chest … plus I’ve worried abt her getting her head stuck like you described! I’ve been thinking & thinking what I can do abt it … & I’m going to try your green snow fence idea! Thanks! I really appreciate your post!

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