Horse Owner Alert: Dangers with round bale netting

Round bale netting

Recently, two horses from the same farm came to the UF Large Animal Hospital about two days apart showing the same clinical signs of colic (see below). Both horses had surgery at the UF Large Animal Hospital and each had an identical hard impaction in the large colon. The impaction was removed in each horse and was found to consist of plastic netting material. Both horses had eaten the netting around a round bale they were feeding on and the netting became lodged in the intestine. Both horses made a complete recovery.

This is an uncommon behavior of horses but when it happens, obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract can develop, as in these two horses. It is recommended that you closely monitor your horse’s eating habits and if you notice that your horse is eating the netting of round bales or has exposed large pieces of it in the bales, remove the netting immediately. It was also noted that once the netting was chewed, it came undone more easily. As can be seen in the picture, the netting material is very fine and not easily distinguished from hay in appearance. There are other options for wrapping round bales and they can be considered also. The netting material involved in these cases is different to the round bale hay net developed to slow feeding and thereby controlling the sugar intake of the horses with founder.

If you suspect your horse has colic, call your veterinarian or contact the UF Large Animal Hospital at 352-392-2229 immediately. Learn more about treating colic at UF.

Round bale netting impaction from colic surgery

Clinical signs of colic:

  • Poor appetite
  • Decreased manure production
  • Lip curling
  • Depression
  • Lying down more than usual
  • Pawing
  • Stretching out
  • Flank watching
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Sweating
  • Kicking at the abdomen
  • Rolling
  • Repeatedly getting up and down


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