Is your horse a fussy eater? Feed steamed hay!

Horses like to eat steamed hay…. that’s according to four published research findings and numerous customer feedback. This article looks at each of these independent studies and also what customer have experienced when it comes to switching to steamed hay.. 

Becky James
Technical sales Director, 29/03/2020

1. The Kentucky Equine Research Centre, USA

The Kentucky Equine Research Centre in America performed a full 12 week feeding trial using three Thoroughbred geldings which included an assessment of palatability. They investigated voluntary intake, rate of intake, chewing rate and digestibility of dry, soaked and steamed mature timothy hay. Their findings agreed with those outlined above and recorded horses would voluntarily consume more steamed hay than dry or soaked hay when given the choice.

2. Graduate student from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Most recently Tiana Owens, a University of Guelph graduate student conducted research into soaking and steaming hay along with co-researchers Madeline Barnes, Vanessa Gargano, Wilfredo D. Mansilla, Katrina Merkies and Anna K. Shoveller.

The University of Guelph have investigated, their findings were “horses preferred to eat steamed or dry hay over soaked hay, further supporting a recommendation that steaming is a superior method for treating hay for performance horses. These results, combined with the loss of nutrients when soaking hay, should make performance horse owners consider steaming their hay to better maintain its nutritional integrity”  


3. Moore-Colyer and Payne, The Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, England 

The Royal Agricultural University investigated the palatability and ingestion behaviour of polo ponies when offered dry, soaked or Haygain-steamed hay. They found that steamed hay once tasted was always the first consumed and that although some of the ponies nibbled the dry hay, they would quickly return to the steamed hay until it was all consumed whereupon they chose to eat the dry hay over the soaked. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STUDY 

4. Brown and co-researchers from Writtle College, England 

Writtle College conducted a comparable study, which sought to determine which fodder was the preferred choice for stabled horses between dry hay, steamed hay or haylage. Seven horses stabled at Writtle College Lordships stud were simultaneously offered 3 haynets with either dry hay, haylage or hay that had been steamed in a Haygain HG600. Intake was determined by the difference in weight of the haynets after a 1 hour feeding period. 

Statistical analysis revealed steamed hay was most often the first forage to be consumed, followed by haylage, followed by dry hay and that steamed hay was consumed the most over the one hour feeding period. The researchers concluded that steamed hay was not only hygienically clean but also a palatable fodder for stabled horses. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STUDY 

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