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How long will steamed hay last?

How long will steamed hay last?

Written by: Stephanie Davis DVM

Thinking about how to implement steaming hay in your daily routine is an important practical issue to consider. Every barn has its own set up, electrical capacity, and management team. So, for a barn manager to plan how to run their feeding program, it makes sense to inquire about how long the steamed hay would last.

It is recommended that the steamed hay be fed warm straight out of the steamer. It is incredibly hot once the steamer is initially opened, but the hay will cool quickly and horses tend to like the warmth (particularly in the winter). If the hay cannot be fed straight out of the steamer, it can be fed up to 24 hours later. If it is decided to steam the hay up to 24 hours before feeding, it should be stored in a clean dry area off of the ground so that there is the least amount of contamination as possible. If you live in an area of extreme heat, it may be more difficult to wait 24 hours to feed because the heat and humidity will speed up growth of new mold spores and bacteria. If that is the case, it would be helpful to have a temperature- controlled area to store the hay.

It is understandable that not all facilities will be able to feed all horses immediately after steaming. For example, there may be more horses than hay can be steamed in one cycle. If the barn has only one steamer and more than 5-6 horses, it may be difficult to feed all the horses from one steaming cycle. Additionally, it is not practical to expect all facilities to have a large temperature-controlled area to store hay if the ambient temperature is too hot and humid. So, what can be done to avoid these issues?

I am certain that there are countless solutions to the issue of organizing a feeding program so that steamed hay can be fed within 24 hours. From my personal experience, I found that an outdoor timer completely made all the difference for feeding steamed hay. When the steamer was on a timer, the hay would be ready to feed at whatever time I needed to feed them. This way, I didn’t have to wait the hour to steam or worry about how long it would be sitting out if not fed immediately. After an AM feeding, I would load the Haygain with hay for the PM feeding and would be able to feed the hay warm and not have extra time or labor either waiting on the hay to steam or having to steam and then find somewhere to store they hay.

Also, from personal experience, I would recommend having the electrical capacity checked in your barn to ensure the Haygain won’t trip the circuit. The previous barn where I kept my horses was quite old and didn’t have the capacity to run both boilers off of one circuit. We ended up plugging each boiler into two different circuits and that worked perfectly. So, no matter the circumstance, there are some tricks that can be done to ensure it is a simple transition from feeding dry hay to feeding Haygain steamed hay to your horses within a 24-hour time frame.

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