Ulcer Update and a Porta Grazer Review

I’m a bit behind on both these things, but better late than never, right? Kristen recently did a Porta Grazer review and hers was similar to what I’ll have to say, except for one big difference. She keeps her horses at home. I board June, and therefore have a bit of a different perspective.

I don’t have great media, but essentially the Porta Grazer is a slow hay feeder and can also be used as a hay soaker. It’s a cylindrical hard plastic tub that has a removable top. The top looks like a large feed dish, but has holes within it. The holes come in various sizes, and allow your horse to pull the hay through the holes. The motion replicates what horses do when they graze. Here are some pictures from the website to give you an idea of what things look like:

There are three different sizes, and I went with the XL, which runs $299 (although there is an easy to google $25 off coupon out there). Shipping was about $35 I believe and it was FAST. But then again, the product is made in my state of Idaho.

The Porta Grazer was recommended to me by my veterinarian after we confirmed June had ulcers. And I can see why. It’s so much easier and neater than hay nets, and it really seems like the most natural way for horses to eat. There are some tricks to loading it, but the one I purchased can hold three flakes of hay. Much like Kristen’s horses, June had absolutely no issue with using it right away. I introduced it slowly, but she preferred it to the hay nets within the first day.

There are definitely more pros than cons to the product, IMO. Here are some things I have been happy with:

  1. No mess. I mean, there is so little wasted hay with this. It’s great!
  2. June’s meals last longer. At first, I was overly concerned that June wasn’t eating all the time. I would show up and she would be hanging out, even though the Porta Grazer wasn’t empty. It took a bit of convincing from Sarah, but I finally agreed that it’s fine that she is taking a break from eating. This is what horses do. They graze, hang out, walk around, graze some more. The fact that she isn’t hoovering her food down shows that she feels control over her food situation and can actually relax about it. The Porta Grazer is virtually empty at feeding time, which means she does eat it all, but she doesn’t sit there and hoover it all down like she was when she had free choice hay.
  3. Less anger at feeding time. June is housed next to Georgie. In the past they would kick, buck, rear, bite and put on a real show at feeding time. Some may call this being hangry, but what I’m realizing, is that it was not helping her ulcers. Getting that worked up at feeding time is not a good sign. Especially when you eat and then run over to the mare next to you and try to kick them through the fence. (I won’t say which one was doing this..) With the Porta Grazer, there’s some whinnying, but the anger has pretty much ceased (at least with June). I think knowing she will have food for hours, makes feeding time way less of an event for her.
  4. Hay stays dry and is out of the dirt. Right now the ground is wet, which means hay on the ground gets wet and gross. June’s hay stays clean and dry, so she can enjoy all of it and she doesn’t avoid eating it because it has turned into a soggy mess.

Happily munching away

The things I don’t love with the Porta Grazer mainly have to do with living at a boarding stable and not being able to obsessively make sure everything is perfect, and I do think that if I had this product a home I would have ZERO complaints with it. But, in case you are thinking of getting one, and board your horse, some things to think about:

  1. I feed mix hay 2x a day and throw June a flake of alfalfa once a day. The Porta Grazer is really made for fine, loose hay. Our hay, while incredibly nutritious, is packed pretty tightly. Therefore, when it’s put in the Porta Grazer, sometimes it can bunch up and not come loose. Then it gets packed down at the bottom and really difficult for horses to access, as they can’t loosen it and get it through the holes. This is easily resolved by taking the lid off, and just shaking the flakes loose, and putting the lid back on. But, since I’m not there to do that, sometimes June’s hay just stays packed until I show up later. Sometimes she’ll work at it and actually put some effort into eating, and it works itself out. But I would love it if her hay got fluffed more. I mean, doesn’t everyone want that for their horse? And I throw the alfalfa flake on the ground as it can really be too coarse for the feeder.
  2. I don’t know how much June is actually eating. If the feeder isn’t empty at feeding time, is she still getting 2-3 flakes put in it? Or just one? By the time I show up, the weekday feeders have left so I have no way to tell. I fluff the hay and can usually tell what’s in there, but I have no idea what, if anything, was left from the morning feeding.
  3. The different sizes are confusing. I got the XL but now wish I had gotten the corner feeder. But the name “corner feeder” made me think I needed to have a corner for it to go into, and I don’t. It’s basically just a bigger version, with more holes in the lid.
  4. Not great Customer Service. The shipping and ordering were fantastic and easy. But I called to ask some questions, and their office hours are pretty limited and no one called me back. So, boo on that.

Such a princess

I think this is a great product and I really think it has helped reduce (or eliminate!) June’s ulcers. Along with the Porta Grazer, I’ve also made some other changes that I think have really helped. As I mentioned before, I give June a flake of straight alfalfa everyday. Alfalfa has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of ulcers, and she already gets alfalfa/grass hay, I think this little bit extra can only help.

I researched supplements and I’m so on the fence about them. I’ve used Smartpak supplements in the past, but June isn’t eligible for ColicCare currently as she had a bout of mild colic this fall which I ended up calling the vet out for.

After we scoped her, my veterinarian ended up recommending I put June on Purina Outlast. Never having heard of it, I assumed it was a feed, but it turns out, it’s really more of a feed topper, or supplement. You give your horse a measured amount depending on body weight prior to exercise or any stressful event (such as trailering). It’s advertised as a Gastric Support Supplement and you can purchase it as is, or purchase a Purina feed that has it added to it. Since June doesn’t really need grain right now, I just purchased the supplement and I feed her 1 cup before I ride or trailer her. While the ingredients don’t make me think “YES! This will definitely work!” there is research behind it and it is getting good reviews. It’s incredibly inexpensive, June loves it, and so far, I’ve been really happy with it.

Lastly, I plan on giving June Ulcergard prior and during travel, even if it’s just a couple of hours down the road. I think trailering is hard on her, even if getting somewhere new doesn’t seem to bother her at all. And in the summer I hope to get her out on pasture more, as I think that can really help.

So far, I’m really pleased with how June is doing post 30 days of Gastrogard. I did not have her re scoped because I’m pretty much broke, but she seems like a different horse. She’s eating well, she’s happy to go to work, and her general demeanor just seems back to its curious, happy, self. She hasn’t bucked under saddle and I have been increasing her work and asking more of her. Overall, I would say she’s doing great! My hope is, that with continued thoughtful management, we can keep her healthy and happy!


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20 thoughts on “Ulcer Update and a Porta Grazer Review

  1. Liz says:

    A great review – thank you! I have wondered a lot about these things. It’s super awesome that she took to it so quickly over the hay net! Sounds like a pretty outstanding product overall.


  2. So happy to hear June is feeling and behaving better. I’m going to look into that Outlast for H’Appy. He is a very worried traveler and while he doesn’t show signs of ulcers if it’s a nice and easy feed topper it’s worth giving a cup before we head out. Plus it may add a layer of enticement to the entire experience


  3. Amanda C says:

    My trainer has had great luck with Outlast, I’m actually planning on picking up some for Henry too!


  4. I started P on outlast when I was really frustrated with our poop problems and waiting for the vet. Not sure it did anything since he still needed bio-sponge to dry things up (he’s still on both things) but several people at my barn rave about it and the lameness vet who comes to the barn recommends it as well. Interestingly it’s also very similar to a tribute brand supplement (they include pre/probiotics) that one of my friends feeds.
    I often consider getting Maestro a porta-grazer but I’d have to get barn approval. I would love for him to feel less obsessed about his food like my boys at home are.
    I’m glad the porta-grazer is working well for you even if you wish you had gotten the bigger size (I wish my first one was the bigger!). Enjoyed reading your take on it.


    • nadsnovik says:

      Yeah I think my barn finds me very annoying-but they fill it (although not always correctly) and they probably appreciate how much less hay is wasted? Thanks for your review- it’s good to know its a quality product for lots of people!


  5. martidoll123 says:

    I am so glad the porta grazer is working for you and June but agree boarding would be tought! I still havent bought one as our hay (both alfalfa and bermuda) here is so coarse. I think the TC compressed Timothy would work in that but jeez that stuff is expensive.

    UGH…i just can see Remus ignoring the porta grazer…!

    Glad June is doing as good as she is! YAY 🙂 And that outlast stuff looks interesting for stressful events.

    If either of you decide to go bigger and want to sell your porta grazer XL let me know 🙂


    • nadsnovik says:

      You’re so lucky because IMO yyour horses have the ideal set up. They’re never without food! And they get to graze and walk around. Thats how it was for my horses growing up and we never ever had colic or ulcers.
      If I do end up selling it for the larger model I will let you know. Although in looking at my budget, I need to just be happy with what I have! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  6. KC Scott says:

    That’s a pretty cool tool and I think if I had horses at home, it’d be an awesome product to have.

    I went through the ulcer thing with P in 2017 (UGH) and after a diet overhaul, he’s still ulcer-free over a year later (even through the stall rest thing). He gets low NSC feed 2x/day (ProElite Senior) with 2 pumps of U-Shield with each feeding, free-choice hay, and UG every time he trailers. It was sort of expensive considering how much he trailers (pre-stall rest), but MUCH less expensive than another round of ulcer treatment.


    • nadsnovik says:

      The free choice hay, IMO is the key to reducing ulcers, you’re lucky you have that option! I will have to look into the U Shield, although so far I am happy with the Purina Outlast and feel like since she is doing well I shouldn’t change anything. Ulcergard is so stupidly expensive. Someone needs to break that market with a competing product.


  7. fishwithfeet says:

    I think if I need to resort to hay soaking to remove sugars I would move to this product. Right now I’ve got some really good small hole hay nets that have been keeping the horses in hay for 24 hrs, so I’m feeling pretty good about my slow feed situation.

    But good to know that so many people are having a positive experience with it!


    • nadsnovik says:

      Hay nets are great too- I just love that this is built with horse anatomy in mind- they eat as they were intended to.
      It would be great for soaking, there’s a plug at the bottom which is perfect for that


  8. Emma says:

    a bunch of my friends feed outlast and really like it, i’m glad it’s working for June!

    i also really love that porta grazer but just can’t bear the cost at this point. part of me wonders if there’s a DIY option, but then again the raw materials alone seem to be most of what is driving the price anyway. glad to hear that it works so well tho!


  9. L. Williams says:

    You may want to re-read the feeding instructions for Purina Outlast (you are supposed to feed it in 3-4 meals a day) – I read all the materials and got a sample bag to review from a local tack store in 2017, fed it and then re-read the feeding instructions and realized it’s kind of a crap shoot in the cost/amount department.


    • nadsnovik says:

      Hmm. This is different than the instructions I read. I wonder if it’s changed since 2017? Current instructions are to dose by weight, feed 30 minutes prior to exercise or stressful event (they give a list). I know lots of people just feed it as a grain topper. I take it one step further and actually feed 30 minutes prior to riding


      • I have P on it currently until it runs out (don’t think it’s helping the poo situation) so I look at the bag all the time when I’m dosing it out. They recommend 3-4 feedings of it per day but you can do as little as 2. Then 5-6 is max in a day, presumably if you are doing it before a stressful event. I did 3 times a day for a while but have only been doing 2. Planning to start reducing amount per dose once I get down in the bag a little more to wean him off.
        Tribute has their similar product Ultra GH and I don’t think it says anything about extra dosing – dose is also much smaller and already includes pre- and probiotics. Have not compared how pricing works out per day though. Have a friend who uses it and it helps her horse avoid occasional loose stool from hay changes and stress.
        We are all just creating expensive pee on most things sadly.


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