Have Questions? You’ve come to the right place.

FAQs About the OptiMizer

Why isn't the red handle in the middle of the slide arm?
The slide arm was designed to be operated from the front of the OptiMizer®, and so the red handle is offset towards the front. This orientation enables the slide arm to function smoothly in any terrain (it uses a bar and loop design to accommodate uneven ground) and allows you to operate the slide arm with one hand and lift the net out of the way at the same time with the other, all the while standing straight to minimize back strain.

How did you choose the netting?
We wanted to ensure the netting was gentle for the horses’ muzzles, mouth, and teeth and durable. Over the years, we have used a variety of hay bags made out of different polymers and styles. Our best experience was with knotless nylon hay bags from Slow Feed Netting, and we decided to source our netting from this trusted and true Canadian supplier.

We have tested 3 different net sizes in the OptiMizer: 2”, 1.5” and, 1.25”. Our herd had years of experience eating from hay bags as small as 1”, yet we found that the 2” net in our OptiMizer was the best size for our horses and hay. Specifically, 2” regulates their hay consumption with low levels of frustration and no damage to the netting. The horses seemed most content, sometimes even trance-like while eating from the 2” net. They seemed a bit frustrated with the smaller net openings. We thought that 2” would be the best size to start most herds. However, we also offer a replacement kit with 1.5” net for situations that require slower feeding.

Is there replacement net available?
Absolutely—replacement kits are available with either 2” or 1.5” netting. The net is loaded on a loop to make it easy to put on the hay assembly. Detailed instructions are included in the kit, and a ‘how to’ video showing each step will be on our website shortly.
Are other colours available?
The OptiMizer can be made available in a range of custom colours! Please contact us to review options (note that additional charges and delivery time may apply).
How many horses can eat from one OptiMizer?
This depends on the dynamics of your herd and some of your management practices. At any time, 4 horses that get along can eat together at the OptiMizer. For more companionable eating with typical herd dynamics, 2 or 3 horses will be at the OptiMizer at the same time. As the temperature gets colder, horses need to eat more hay and they will spend a lot of time at the OptiMizer, especially if it is their only source of hay over a 24 hour period. 

For example, our herd of 8 horses live outside all the time (with access to shelter in a cozy bank barn). Last winter, we had 3 OptiMizers, which were refilled once a day with up to 6 bales of hay.  On especially cold days, we also put some flakes of loose hay in the corners of their barn, so they could choose to eat indoors if they wanted.

Do you wait for the OptiMizer to be empty before you refill it?
Again, this depends on your management practices and set up. We only feed hay once a day—more specifically every 24-36 hours—and we like to ensure that the horses will always have hay available. We check every OptiMizer every day and will often top up hay if there is still some available. We tend to push the old hay into a bundle on one side so we can put the fresh on the other. That way, we can keep track of the hay they are eating. 
How do you get the horses to move around when they are eating from the OptiMizer?
I am conducting research to figure out ways to increase the movement of our horses in the winter. I braided a GPS into the tail of our alpha horse and have been tracking his position every minute for over 1000 hours to compare natural grazing in the spring/summer vs. eating hay in the winter. I initially thought that widely spacing our OptiMizers would result in more movement. It did…but only for us humans loading the OptiMizers. The horses would plant themselves at one for hours at a time when they were far apart. Surprising to me, I got them to move more when the three OptiMizers were placed in a relatively tight triangle, about 20 feet apart. I think this created some good tension in the herd to make them wander from feeder to feeder, moving each other safely, while getting plenty to eat and moving their feet. This research is on-going and I will post updates as I learn more about this.
We just had a lot of freezing rain and the net is trapped in a layer of ice frozen to the bottom of the feeder. What should I do?
Don’t panic and don’t try to pull the net out of the ice right away. The bottom of the feeder is designed to flex and ice does not, so if you flex the bottom the ice will break up and release the net. One way to flex the bottom is to step inside the feeder and stand in the middle. The bottom will pop down when you step in and pop back up when you get out, breaking up the ice. If you prefer, you can also tip the feeder onto its side and give the bottom a kick from the middle. Neither of these actions should damage the bottom since the material remains flexible well below -40 degrees (celsius and fahrenheit).
Now that I have the net out of the ice how do I get the chunks of ice off of it?
If there isn’t too much ice, your horses will likely be able to eat through and away at it without any difficulty. If quite a lot has built up and you’d like to remove it, though, simply fill a 5-gallon pail with warm water, open the feeder, place the bucket inside (as you could with a bale of hay), and then slide the arm back over and close it. You can now gather the net and submerge it a bit at a time into the warm water. Moving the bucket along the length of the slide arm will allow you to get the ice off all of the net that horses feed through.
After a freezing rain event I'm having trouble moving the slide arm. What should I do?

The OptiMizer’s design should help protect the slide arm and assembly from most freezing rain events, but Mother Nature isn’t always co-operative. Fortunately, if you’ve had a significant amount of freezing rain and are having trouble moving the slide arm, the problem is likely no more than ice buildup on the portion of the assembly closest to the front of the OptiMizer (the front being the side where the name is stamped).

To fix it, you need a kettle with some warm water (it doesn’t have to boiling; lukewarm will do) and a dry cloth:

  1. To start, gradually pour the water out along the part of the assembly closest to front to melt the ice.
  2. Next, use the cloth to wipe the water off and prevent it from re-freezing.

Didn’t see your question there? Get in touch and we’re happy to chat!

My horse is a 17 year old, off-the-track thoroughbred who lives outside all year. She's a hard keeper, but by getting her the right amount of hay, whenever she wanted it, it was the first winter she didn't need an extra blanket or grain.

- Laura T.

We use 3 OptiMizers for our herd of 8 horses. We fill them about once a day, even on the worst days, and have found ourselves going through a lot less hay. I'm confident our OptiMizers will pay for themselves in the amount of money we've saved in otherwise ruined hay.

- Heather M.

I've always had slow feed bags. I needed five or six a day to feed three horses. Last winter with the OptiMizer I could slow feed two bales in one place. This saved me a ton of time not having to refill bags everyday, plus I noticed it was way cleaner in the spring.

- Amanda M.

Contact Us

info@hayoptimizer.net

PO Box 21084
Guelph, ON N1G 3A2