The Great Hay Soaking Debate - Experts please come forward!

Tobiano

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Dull thread but I have been pondering for many hours as I meddle with hay nets for horizontally-challenged horses.

I have seen and heard so many different versions of the routine for soaking hay for fatties, I'd like to see what everyone thinks on here!

These are my questions, others may have more!

1. Duration of soaking. I have heard both 12 and 24 hours mentioned by different sources as the required time for soaking for removal of sugars / reduction in calories. Your verdict?

2. Rinsing after soaking / before feeding. Is it necessary and if so why? How do you all do it? immerse in clean water or spray?

3. Shelf life. I always throw away any uneaten soaked hay at the end of the day as i imagine it will ferment. Is this right or not?

4. Weight to feed. (I have never understood this). I know about the 2% of ideal body weight rule, but is this just for hay if that is the only source of forage? How do you / can you / do you need to measure the weight of grass intake for horses out part of the day and in part of the day? Also, does the weight still matter if you soak the hay as if this reduces the calories then presumably you could have a greater dry weight than of unsoaked hay, for the same amount of calories.

5. Is hay steaming any better than hay soaking and if so why?

Finally, does anyone have a clever way of carrying wet hay nets which doesn't result in total immersion for the carrier?!

Thank you! :)
 

Bertolie

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Can't offer an opinion on all your questions but I was told by a feed company nutritionist that the optimum time for soaking hay was between 2 and 6 hours. I don't rinse after soaking, just hang and drain. Any uneaten hay gets thrown away. Steaming I'd good for removing dust and spores but doesn't reduce sugars/calories.
 

Cowpony

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Not an expert, but I have read that 16 hours is ideal and reduces the calories by 25%. After that the article I read said no more calories were lost. When I fed it I didn't rinse it but hung it on a hook above the bin I soaked it in for as long as possible to let all the water run off before feeding. I did throw out any unused hay because I too feared that it would go off, but my mare used to wolf it down most of the time.
 

Tobiano

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The 2 to 6 hours is a surprise to me! Also surprised that steaming does not reduce calories - glad I asked! thank you
 

Regandal

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There's a study somewhere, Safergrass rings a bell. Thinks it's from the US though, they test lots of grass I've never heard of.
 

Tobiano

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gosh also surprised that calories only go down by 25% but then I suppose that makes sense as most of the matter is still there. Interesting the difference between the 2 to 6 and the 16 hours!!
 

Cortez

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Soak for up to 12 hours

I don't rinse, but do drain well. I'd imagine that rinsing removes the last of the sugar and mucky brown soak water.

Uneaten? There is no uneaten hay at our farm!

For weight loss, feed 1.5% of the ideal bodyweight (for a horse supposed to weigh 500kgs that = 7.5kgs dry weight of hay per day). For maintainance, feed 2%.

Steaming is no good for calorie reduction, but will reduce mould spores.

Wet hay nets: make sure they are properly drained before feeding.
 

criso

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There's a study somewhere, Safergrass rings a bell. Thinks it's from the US though, they test lots of grass I've never heard of.
There was one study where they soaked loose hay. Hay packed in a haynet as we tend to do in the UK makes a big difference.

Lots of studies on hay soaking here http://www.thelaminitissite.org/h.html


If you scroll down there's a little graphic showing the effect of water temp on hays soaked for 1, 3 and 16 hours.
 

twiggy2

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I went to a talk organised by the local vets, the speaker was from Dengie feeds, the ideal time to soak in warm/hot weather for maximum calorie loss with lowest risk of spores/fermentation was said to be 3-6hrs, in cold weather 16hrs after which no calories are lost. the advised using warm water and less time as warm water after a certain time creates effluent-yum.
rinsing is ideal either dunking or spraying.
feed the same day or chuck away.
do not allow to dry as dust spores multiply to much higher than the original levels when dry and particularly harmful spores can grow to very high levels.
steaming does not do much for reducing calories.
2% of total forage intake for holding weight levels for a horse in light or no work, down to 1.25% for horses that are obese or suffering due to weight, the idea of soaking the hay is that you can feed the same amount with less calories, so if you are soaking and do not want weight loss you can increase quantity. they also advised oat straw can be fed but they do not advise more than 25% of the total forage intake is straw.
 

Hoof_Prints

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For the laminitic under my care, he has hay double soaked over 12 hours. 6 hours soaked, then refresh the water as sugar moves out down a concentration gradient and it will become saturated. He stays sound on double soaked hay, but single soaked hay makes him lame so it must be working . I give it a quick rinse befor letting it drain. I give my hay a bit of a spray to dampen down any dust before feeding to horses on no particular diet. I chuck away any hay left the following day, but there is usually only a small amount left uneaten.
 

Micky

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can only tell what i have learnt from thelaminitissite and my own experience from the last 2/3 years.. but i soak in winter for longer as temperature of water menas it takes longer for the sugars to leach out of the hay, so i soak overnight, during the summer i soak for up to 6 hours, hang up on the fence to drain whist doing other jobs, then feed it straight,no rinsing. Amount? Well i have got to the stage where i know what maintains my cob x weight, 3 nets through the winter and 1 large in the summer ( out at night in summer, out in day in winter)...I too throw any remaining hay away as it does/can ferment after this time so i believe. As far as i know steaming doesn't do the same job as soaking, it doesnt leach the sugars from the hay, just de dusts it,
 

Pebble101

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Not an expert, but I have read that 16 hours is ideal and reduces the calories by 25%. After that the article I read said no more calories were lost. When I fed it I didn't rinse it but hung it on a hook above the bin I soaked it in for as long as possible to let all the water run off before feeding. I did throw out any unused hay because I too feared that it would go off, but my mare used to wolf it down most of the time.
Exactly the time I was told today at Hickstead but there are so many opinions I have no idea what is right. I expect it depends on the hay type as well.

I leave my haynets on an old plastic bakers tray for at least 30 minutes to drain of, preferably longer.
 

Tobiano

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Wow thanks for all of this! The point about double soaking is really interesting and makes a lot of sense. Also draining, as I guess if the water is still in there it will have sugar in it. Touch wood mine have not had laminitis yet but I want to keep it that way!!
 

ycbm

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Can't offer an opinion on all your questions but I was told by a feed company nutritionist that the optimum time for soaking hay was between 2 and 6 hours. I don't rinse after soaking, just hang and drain. Any uneaten hay gets thrown away. Steaming I'd good for removing dust and spores but doesn't reduce sugars/calories.
Actually it does, but this is newish discovery. They have recently realised that if carbs are heated up and then cooled, it reduces the available calories in them. This applies to pasta and rice, so I think it will also apply to hay.
 

criso

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Actually it does, but this is newish discovery. They have recently realised that if carbs are heated up and then cooled, it reduces the available calories in them. This applies to pasta and rice, so I think it will also apply to hay.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0114079

It's a bit dry and you have to read closely to find the relevant bit but steaming didn't have much effect of WSC


S = Steamed 40 mins in haygain
W = Soaked for 9 hours netted in small hole haynets
WS = Soaked and then Steamed
SW = Steamed and then Soaked

S alone had little effect. Numerically the greatest mean loss across all of the hays in WSC content occurred with the WS treatment (37% reduction) but this was not significantly different from the loss seen with W or SW (both 34%), suggesting that all 3 methods that included a soaking step were equally effective at reducing WSC
 

Suelin

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Best way not to get soaked with wet nets. I have a pulley system (cheap from Amazon) to take the net out of the water. Allow to drain out and then drop into dry Trug on some wheels. (barrow or a sack barrow type thing) wheel to where net is required and pull up to hang leaving trug underneath to catch any more water. Leave it until ponio comes in and then take out trug and empty water. You stay dry and ponio enjoys. Simples.
 

little_critter

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Ref calculating hay requirements if they spend time at grass. I had the same question and was told if they are supposed to be eating 2% of their body weight in 24 hours and they are at grass for 12 hours then simply divide the 2% weight by 2 to get the hay weight required. Or if they are at grass for 8 hours then they need 2/3 of the 2% in hay.
Simply pro rate by time, you can't weigh the grass.
 

twiggy2

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the dengie rep stated that on good grazing that a small horse can eat 2kg per hour-she was sensible and stated if weight loss is desperate then they have to be removed from grazing to moniter intake and sugar fluctuations, if weight loss is not urgent but ideal then you have the opportunity to play around until you find the horse starts to lose weight slowly but consistently.
she also mentioned the whole 'a horse must have constant access to forage' debate by saying in an ideal world horses would e free roaming on very sparse, over grazed and non managed grazing which would enable constant movement to burn calories, instead movement is restricted and grazing is managed meaning grazing is far to rich to be ideal-even hay/haylage is far richer than horses can have free access too, the happy medium is not leaving them for longer than 4 hrs with nothing to eat and feeding small amounts of low sugar forage as frequently as possible.
 

JillA

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I can't remember the source but several years ago I was told that most of the sugars are soaked out in the first 20 minutes, so it is worth doing for a short time even if you can't do 12 hours.
 

tallyho!

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Dull thread but I have been pondering for many hours as I meddle with hay nets for horizontally-challenged horses.

I have seen and heard so many different versions of the routine for soaking hay for fatties, I'd like to see what everyone thinks on here!

These are my questions, others may have more!

1. Duration of soaking. I have heard both 12 and 24 hours mentioned by different sources as the required time for soaking for removal of sugars / reduction in calories. Your verdict?

2. Rinsing after soaking / before feeding. Is it necessary and if so why? How do you all do it? immerse in clean water or spray?

3. Shelf life. I always throw away any uneaten soaked hay at the end of the day as i imagine it will ferment. Is this right or not?

4. Weight to feed. (I have never understood this). I know about the 2% of ideal body weight rule, but is this just for hay if that is the only source of forage? How do you / can you / do you need to measure the weight of grass intake for horses out part of the day and in part of the day? Also, does the weight still matter if you soak the hay as if this reduces the calories then presumably you could have a greater dry weight than of unsoaked hay, for the same amount of calories.

5. Is hay steaming any better than hay soaking and if so why?

Finally, does anyone have a clever way of carrying wet hay nets which doesn't result in total immersion for the carrier?!

Thank you! :)
Yes, totally dull! However when you have a fatty, dull topics abound.

I think you have to google all available studies on grass (I mean, do these people have a life?) like safergrass.com and all the others mentioned in your thread, Criso, that was a good one. Like.

I just used to soak during day (9 hours ish) lift, rinse and leave to drain overnight, put it in the stable along with horse and repeat. To reduce weight it's 1.5% of horses weight so if the horse is 500kg, then x 0.015 = 7.5kg. DRY. Loads! So I just shoved in as much hay as i possibly could fit in the soaking bin. Plus he did also get turned out and lots of exercise. He could jump all day. I turned him away one winter and he never put on any weight.
 

Tobiano

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Best way not to get soaked with wet nets. I have a pulley system (cheap from Amazon) to take the net out of the water. Allow to drain out and then drop into dry Trug on some wheels. (barrow or a sack barrow type thing) wheel to where net is required and pull up to hang leaving trug underneath to catch any more water. Leave it until ponio comes in and then take out trug and empty water. You stay dry and ponio enjoys. Simples.
This is a very neat solution! :) Thank you!
 

Tobiano

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Ref calculating hay requirements if they spend time at grass. I had the same question and was told if they are supposed to be eating 2% of their body weight in 24 hours and they are at grass for 12 hours then simply divide the 2% weight by 2 to get the hay weight required. Or if they are at grass for 8 hours then they need 2/3 of the 2% in hay.
Simply pro rate by time, you can't weigh the grass.
This is helpful thank you! I also like the guidance from twiggy2 of the 4 hour limit for nothing to eat. I think we probably manage this.

Next thing we need is a time-release hay dispenser to keep the forage available in a steady trickle. Any inventors out there?!
 

Exploding Chestnuts

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This is helpful thank you! I also like the guidance from twiggy2 of the 4 hour limit for nothing to eat. I think we probably manage this.

Next thing we need is a time-release hay dispenser to keep the forage available in a steady trickle. Any inventors out there?!
You have two haynets, one to be fed now and one to be fed when the horse is checked at night, it can be hung out of reach but just flipped in to eating range. I don't think it is ideal for every horse to stand for four hours, but if it has been out in a field it will already have a full tummy and need a lie down, so four hours will certainly not harm it.
If in doubt, I would rather give it a tiny haynet to let it have an hour of soaked grass both when it comes in and before it goes out, the last thing I want to do is to turn out a greedy pig when it has just been starved for four hours.
Most of the sugars will be removed in the earliest hours of soaking, so I don't get too fussed about how long it should be soaked, you have to make dietry changes slowly anyway, so you should move towards your goal rather than suddenly changing.
In summer the water is warmer so soaked hay may start to ferment, but also pony may not eat it if it is no longer appetising, so that is a consideration too.
 
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Tobiano

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Thanks B2. My horses go out at night, muzzled, so their hay is at present soaked overnight and given to them in the morning. They always fall on it like harpies when they come in and guzzle for half an hour or so before giving up and going to sleep. If I was a better owner I would probably split the hay ration into 2 and come back at lunch time to feed the 2nd portion, but what I actually do is feed it all in the morning when I bring them in. I figure they sleep during the day so it shouldn't matter so much if they haven't got hay available every minute. Should it???!
 

MyBoyChe

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I started soaking my hay last year, its the first time Ive owned a native and had to completely rethink my feeding regime. I soak for 12 hours so one goes in overnight for morning feed and vice versa. I have one of those little garden trolley on wheels things with a plastic water tank in it. Drilled a hole with a plug in the water tank so easy to drop the hay net in, soak, then pull the plug to let it drain. I chuck a couple of buckets of clean water over it to rinse off the sugary residue, then pull the truck to the stable where I can pull the hay net cord through the tie ring and lever it up into position.I normally pop a tiny pile of hay on the floor under the net to soak up any water drips which greedy pony gobbles up as well. I feed 1.5% dry of bodyweight for weight loss, if I need more bulk I mix decent straw in with it. Not sure if Im technically correct but it worked for us last winter. I was told that steaming hay is for a different reason, it doesnt reduce the calories, I think its something to do with the spores?
 

Exploding Chestnuts

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I started soaking my hay last year, its the first time Ive owned a native and had to completely rethink my feeding regime. I soak for 12 hours so one goes in overnight for morning feed and vice versa. I have one of those little garden trolley on wheels things with a plastic water tank in it. Drilled a hole with a plug in the water tank so easy to drop the hay net in, soak, then pull the plug to let it drain. I chuck a couple of buckets of clean water over it to rinse off the sugary residue, then pull the truck to the stable where I can pull the hay net cord through the tie ring and lever it up into position.I normally pop a tiny pile of hay on the floor under the net to soak up any water drips which greedy pony gobbles up as well. I feed 1.5% dry of bodyweight for weight loss, if I need more bulk I mix decent straw in with it. Not sure if Im technically correct but it worked for us last winter. I was told that steaming hay is for a different reason, it doesnt reduce the calories, I think its something to do with the spores?
It is for reducing allergies, the big difference is that the minerals in soaked hay and the sugars are both washed out.
 

holeymoley

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1. Duration of soaking. I used to do 2hours for laminitic and EMS pony. He came down with the start of laminitis in May this year due to sugar levels so it now gets soaked overnight for approximately 20hours.

2. Rinsing after soaking / before feeding. Is it necessary and if so why? How do you all do it? I feel it is necessary as I soak for so long. I wasn't a fan of soaking for so long but it seems to work. I take out the soaked hay and place it in wheelbarrow and run a fairly strong pressure of cold water all over it until the pool of water lightens in colour, then leave to drain.

3. Shelf life. I always throw away any uneaten soaked hay at the end of the day as i imagine it will ferment. Definetly throw away .

4. Weight to feed. (I have never understood this). I know about the 2% of ideal body weight rule, but is this just for hay if that is the only source of forage? How do you / can you / do you need to measure the weight of grass intake for horses out part of the day and in part of the day? Also, does the weight still matter if you soak the hay as if this reduces the calories then presumably you could have a greater dry weight than of unsoaked hay, for the same amount of calories. If you have a good doer type you want to do 1.5% of weight. For example I think I based my lad on approx 400kg which worked out at 8kg per day. This includes any hard feed and grass intake which came to about 4kg left for hay.

5. Is hay steaming any better than hay soaking and if so why? Not really looked into this but I have in winter months , poured a couple of kettles of boiling water over hay as not a fan of soaking in freezing temperatures!

Finally, does anyone have a clever way of carrying wet hay nets which doesn't result in total immersion for the carrier. Fling in wheelbarrow then let drain over a bucket :)
 

atlantis

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I have a hay cube. I stuff it completely full in the morning, leave to soak all day, drain then re-fill and drain again, tip to drain the last bits out and roll into stable. It's great but I'd love a slow feeder but not sure how I'd do that. I could do with s flexible grill that fits in the top. Might see what I can make for this. I have soaked a hay net in my hay cube before, soak and drain the same the pushed the string out through the drain hole and tied securely round the wheels. Can't fit as much in though. Might need 2 hay cubes. Not sure.
 

MagicMelon

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I never really get why people soak hay, I understand if the horse has a respiratory problem (but then surely haylage would be better for them) but otherwise I find it a bit of a waste trying to reduce the calorie content of it. I'd just use double haylage nets instead to slow their intake.
 

Pebble101

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I never really get why people soak hay, I understand if the horse has a respiratory problem (but then surely haylage would be better for them) but otherwise I find it a bit of a waste trying to reduce the calorie content of it. I'd just use double haylage nets instead to slow their intake.
Because some of us have horses with EMS and/or Cushings and are trying to get them to lose weight. Better to reduce the calories in the hay so you can feed them a bit more for the fibre (and reduce boredom when on box rest). Even double netted haylage nets don't last my horse long.
 
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