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:
- No mess. I mean, there is so little wasted hay with this. It’s great!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!