As many of our clients are, we were approached by someone so passionate about their work and industry that they wanted to resolve a clear but neglected problem through product design. This time, the industry was the equine owners and farmers who feed their horses through a slow feed regime, which is preferred by many as a healthier method that provides an interactive feeding method for these animals while saving time for farmers and horse owners.
Here we explore the industry problem, our product development process that solved it, and the steps that helped us all achieve our goal.
The problem our client came to us with is that convention hay nets on the market were made with material that caused discomfort for horses and harmed their teeth and gums. Slow feed hay nets encourage a healthier feeding regime, but the products that facilitate this approach didn’t meet the brief as they were unhealthy for horses in other ways.
The slow feed technique requires farmers to fill up bags of hay and hang them in one location, rather than leaving large bales out. More effort is required for farmers to operate this feeding technique effectively than traditional methods. Conventional bags also made it difficult for farmers to continuously feed horses through slow feed, as small openings and bag volumes mean regular packing frequencies are required.
Many farmers want this system to work for them, but the inefficiencies proved it unworthy. Here, we understood the problem intimately and knew that they were eagerly awaiting a product that worked much better for them and their horses.
The Solution: Hangover Haynets – Easy Packing, Long Feed Durations, and Horse-Friendly Netting
Armed with details of the specific consumer problems, our research and development team explored many possible solutions for the multidimensional issue. The netting material, bag opening mechanism, and net volume all needed to be intrinsically altered and come together for a cohesive product.
Opening Mechanism and Volume
Within the product development cycle, our design teams explored possible solutions listed by our research department. Shark Design determined that a circular bag opening meant that when packing the bag with hay, farmers have a maximized area to access the inside of the bag. We have a pending patent of this circular opening as it’s proven to streamline hay packing and make it a much easier and faster process.
With this opening, we could also create different sized bags and allow horse-owners to fill bags to their full capacity which means they have to pack bags much less often, saving ample time and money. Farmers only need to pack their hay net once for long hauls or overnight stays.
Shark Design's research team studied healthy horse eating patterns and techniques and the materials that support healthy interactions with horses. We discovered nylon material is an ideal netting for horses, as it eliminates discomfort and is much more gentle of their teeth and gums. We also ensured the nylon was knot-free, so farmers waste less time untangling the nets and the volume is always at maximum capacity
The result was what we now call Hangover Haynets – a hay net that horses love to eat from as much as farmers love the freedom and time it gives them.