Soaking and DIY
Even the best hay and haylage contains many respirable particles such as bacteria, mold, yeast and fungal spores. All these so-called respirable particles are very difficult to eliminate. Some people believe that by watering, wetting, rinsing or soaking their hay they are removing the dust and solving the problem.
Unfortunately, this does not address the problem fully. The chart below shows the effects of soaking (all supporting material show in the reference section at the bottom of the page).
Agroscope's comparative study (2016) has revealed that long soaked hay is not suitable for feeding. Indeed, as a result of soaking, the bacteria content increases on the one hand and the sugar content decreases on the other. By steaming with Haygain, the bacteria content can be reduced.
Agroscope is the Swiss centre of excellence for agricultural research, and is affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). You can find the entire study here and our translation to English here.
What about DIY hay steamers ?
When using a homemade steamer, the steam is going from the outside-in and will be lost through the non-insulated walls (especially during winter). Without fully penetrating the hay and steaming it at a temperature of at least 194ºF for a minimum of 10 minutes, the hay will become an incubator of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, mold and fungi.
Haygain's patented and proven manifold spike system was designed to inject steam from the inside-out and ensures all of the hay is steamed evenly. Its insulated hay chest is attached to a purpose-built steam generator that steams the hay for 60 minutes at temperatures that reach 212ºF. This effectively eliminates harmful mold, fungal spores, bacteria and dust mites.
1. Stockdale, C and Moore-Colyer, M.J.S (2010) Steaming hay for horses: The effect of three different treatments on the respirable particle numbers in hay treated in the Haygain steamer. European Workshop for Equine Nutrition, Cirencester, Sept 2010. The Impact of nutrition on the health and welfare of horses. EAAP publication No. 128. Ed Ellis, A., Longland, A.C., Coenen, M and Miraglia, N. p136-138
2. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S and Fillery, B.G. (2012) The Effect of three different treatments on the respirable particle content, total viable count and mould concentrations in hay for horses. 6th European Workshop for Equine Nutrition, Lisbon, Portugal, June. 101- 106.
3. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. Taylor, J. and James, R (2015). The effect of steaming and soaking on the respirable particle, bacteria, mould and nutrient content in hay for horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug 2015
4. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. Taylor, J. and James, R (2015). The effect of steaming and soaking on the respirable particle, bacteria, mould and nutrient content in hay for horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug 2015
5. Wyss, U. and Pradervand, N. (2016) Steaming or Soaking. Agroscope Science. Nr 32 p32-33
6. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. and Payne, V. (2012) Palatability and ingestion behaviour of 6 polo ponies offered a choice of dry, soaked and steamed hay for 1 hour on three separate occasions. Advances in Animal Biosciences. Healthy Food from Healthy Animals. Vol 3 part 1. 127
7. Brown, E., Tracey, S and Gowers, I. (2013) An investigation to determine the palatability of steamed hay, dry hay and haylage. Proceedings of British Society of Animal Science Conference, Nottingham April 2013. p 104
8. James, R. and Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. (2013) Hay for horses: The nutrient content of hay before and after steam treatment in a commercial hay steamer. Proceedings of British Society of Animal Science Conference, Nottingham April 2013.
9. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. Taylor, J. and James, R (2015). The effect of steaming and soaking on the respirable particle, bacteria, mould and nutrient content in hay for horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug 2015
10. Warr EM, Petch JL (1992) Effects of soaking hay on its nutritional quality. Eq.Vet.Edu. 5:169–171.