August 4, 2023

Why Steam Hay?

Why Steam Hay has become a "no-brainer" question.

You are not alone in asking this. Theconcept raised eyebrows when it was first introduced. We all love our horses,but steaming their forage sounded extreme -- even for us horse crazy people.


Today, Haygain Hay Steamers are everywhereon the international competition circuit. Steamed hay is considered thestandard of care at that level, and understanding of its benefits is commonknowledge.


“It’s a no brainer,” said Tamie Smith, the2023 Land Rover Kentucky 5* Eventing Champion. “All you have to do is lookat steamed hay versus dusty, dirty, dry hay.”


Still, there are a lot of horses in theworld. And it’s a world where knowledge slowly spreads from one segment toanother. Many of us have our niches based on what type of riding we do, whatbreed of horse we have and where we are live.


Despite the differences, there are commondenominators regarding horse care.

One of them is that Steamed Hay can helpall horses.


Here’s why… 

Respiratory Risk Reduction


Extensive research establishes thatHaygain’s patented steaming process reduces up to 99% of the respirableirritants commonly found in hay. These irritants are a major cause of equine respiratorydisease. 

Reducing the respiratory risks in theequine environment is veterinarians’ urgent advice for preventing and/ormanaging respiratory problems.


Many vets urge owners to start withhay.  Which makes sense. Even hay ofideal nutrient content is grown in dirt. It’s harvested with heavy equipmentand, often, hauled long distances and stored for long periods. Let’s face it –it’s dirty!

horse still needs to consume anything from 5-15 gallons per day, depending on work level and climate.

Hay’s role in respiratory health leads manyof the educational discussions Megan Snyder, DVM, has with horse owners in herMaryland practice. “A lot of my clients say, ‘Oh, my hay is not dusty ordirty.’ I tell them to put it in a muck tub and tell me that what sifts down tothe bottom is not dirty.”

“I have a list of environmentalrecommendations to help manage our respiratory cases,” the veterinariancontinues. “The hardest thing is that there’s no cure for the disease. We couldspend a lot of money on medications and inhalers, but if we don’t change themanagement strategies, we’re not going to make headway.”

Haygain Hay Steamers rank high on Dr.Snyder’s recommendations. “That is definitely one of the best managementstrategies to help control my respiratory cases. And I see a lot lessrespiratory emergency cases among my horses on steamed hay. Clinically, I haveseen it make a big difference for them.

Tackling A Big Challenge

Respiratory health is one of the biggestchallenges for domesticated horses. Studies show that over 80% of active sporthorses suffer some degree of respiratory challenge -- many without obvioussymptoms.


Belgian-basedEmmanuelle Van Erck Westergren sees this reality firsthand as a top sport horseveterinarian.


We have tracked 400 cases in which horses were referred to ourpractice for poor performance. Between 50% and 80% had some degree of respiratory disease. Eventershad 100% and international show jumpers had 85% at the high end, while drivingand leisure horses were at the ‘low’ end with 50% affected.”


Our horses' physiology is designed forfree, outdoor living, in fresh air and constant ventilation, and nibbling ongrasses all day. In their life today, harvested forage and stabling expose themto significantly increased respiratory risks.


That's not to mention dusty arena footingand the ever-increasing quantities of airborne particulate matter that can furtherstress respiratory function. 

Forage is Good & Bad

Forage is a double-edged sword in equinemanagement: it's critical to nutrition and digestive health, but also a majorsource of respiratory particles. These microscopic bits -- less than 1/10 thesize of a human hair -- include dust, mold, bacteria and other allergens. Theytrigger inflammation and irritation that leads to conditions on the EquineAsthma Spectrum.

Research conducted in 2018 established that horses fed Haygain Steamed Hay were 65% less likely to have conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum.


Horse owners corroborate those findings in reports of easier breathing, fewer coughs and allergies and improved performance for healthy horses, plus significantly reduced symptoms for those with existing respiratory problems. 

Why Not Just Soak Hay? 

If reducing dust is your only goal, soakingwill help in the form of dampening down dust – but with significant drawbacks. Soakingcan leach nutrients, increase bacteria and mold and create a polluted post-soakliquid.


Plus, many horses don’t like soaked hay andit’s a messy, laborious hassle.


(Check out this article for more detailson soakingversus steaming. If your horse needs a reduction in sugars, readabout the recommended soaking-then-steamingprotocol.)

Steamed Hay Bonuses

As a bonus to reducing respirable risks, Haygainsteamed hay has up to 3X the moisture content of dry hay -- great for digestionand hydration. And its proven palatability entices even picky eaters to geteverything they need from their hay, and nothing they don't!


For respiratory, digestive and overallhealth, the answer to the question of Why Steam Hay? is increasingly…


Why Wouldn’t You Steam Hay? 


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