I’ve talked several times about Phoenix’s dental issues and changes as he has aged. At 32 years old, he is missing two of his main chewing teeth, and the remaining ones are short and don’t have much dentine left so his ability to chew hay is extremely limited.
After buying all of the various pre-bagged chopped hay options in my area I was pretty frustrated. I wanted to give Phoenix the option to eat overnight when I’m not there, but a lot of these options had some really sharp pieces of chopped hay. Even worse, Phoenix actually had an issue with healing after he had those two teeth pulled last year because some of the sharp chopped hay got stuck in there. Thankfully I noticed it was a pain issue and got the dental vet back out, but after that I continued in search of a better option.
Finally, this past March, I found a product on Amazon that several people had reviewed saying it was perfect for chopping hay. After what I had spent on various bags of chopped hay that Vinny then ate for us (thanks Vinny!), it seemed like taking a chance on this chopper was worth the risk. Thankfully, it has been a win for us!
I’m using a Sun Joe SDJ616 13-Amp 16:1 Reduction Electric Leaf Mulcher/Shredder (Amazon link). So far I’ve used up two sets of the plastic lines and I chop a lawn trash bag of hay slightly less than weekly.
Some important things to note about this chopper:
- It is loud like a line trimmer. My horses did get spooked by it the first few times I started it up.
- There is some dust. I prefer to chop outside and I usually wear a mask to avoid getting hay dust in my nose. The end product isn’t dusty but hay dust comes out the top of the chopper after a while.
- It’s very important to clean off the air intact filter. It is always covered in hay dust when I finish chopping. If the motor doesn’t get air it won’t live as long.
- You want to use a high quality soft hay to start with. You can’t turn crappy stalky hay into a nice chopped hay.
Caring for an old horse is such a game of trial and error – there are not any one size fits all solutions. When you get it right though, it’s all worth the struggle. I’m so thankful for all the years I’ve gotten with Mr. P and I’m happy to do anything I can for him as long as he is comfortable and happy.
PS If you haven’t read the story of Phoenix, I recommend it. <3