Home / Benefits of hay steaming with Haygain

For your horse

A recent study showed that 84% of horses examined suffered from Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD).

One of the main causes of IAD is respirable dust and a major source of this is hay. IAD will not only reduce a horse's quality of life but can impact on the horse's performance.

In terms of quality of life equine physiologist Dr David Marlin lists continual nasal discharge, blood at the nostrils, irregular breathing, and increase temperature.

In terms of performance he cites increased respiratory rate at rest, increased respiratory effort at rest, abnormal breathing during exercise, slow recovery after exercise. Read more.


Find out why seven time Olympic Eventer Andrew Hoys says "I don’t consider [using a Haygain hay steamer] a luxury for my horses. It’s a necessity.”

Haygain hay steamers are the only scientifically proven method to dramatically reduce respirable dust in hay and kill mold, fungal spores and bacteria that can cause IAD. The above study found that steaming hay with a Haygain hay steamer reduced the risk of your horse developing IAD by 63%.

For you

Studies highlight the need to review horse care activities and implement dust-reducing stable management regimes to reduce the incidence of respiratory disorders in people working with horses.

25% of people working with horses have a diagnosed respiratory condition such as asthma, not to mention all the hay fever suffers. Steamed hay effectively reduces these incidences.

Source: Gosling K (2014) The Prevalence of Human Respiratory Disorders in UK Equine Industry Personal BSc Thesis, Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, UK.

For the environment

Steaming hay drastically reduces water consumption. Filling a container for soaking hay typically uses 11-50 gallons. The sheer volume of water used has an impact not just on water bills, but also on the environment.

Post-soak water is contaminated with bacteria, mould, WSC, proteins and minerals which leach out of the hay, making it an environmental pollutant which must not be disposed of in storm drains. Haygain steamers only use about 4 ½ litres of water per cycle and produce no environmental pollutants.

Source: Warr EM, Petch JL (1992) Effects of Soaking Hay on its Nutritional Quality. Eq.Vet.Edu. 5:169–171.

For your wallet

An epidemiological study found respiratory problems in racehorses to be the second highest reason for lost training days.

Reducing respiratory problems can also make significant savings to your annual vet bills.

Source: Rossdale PD et al. K (1985) Epidemiological Study of Wastage Among Racehorses, Vet Rec, 116:66-69.

Haygain is scientifically proven to:

Improve respiratory health for all horses and “stop the cough”

Reduce symptoms and manage RAO/Equine Asthma/COPD

Increase the palatability and intake of hay: ideal for fussy eaters and post-operative care

Extend the shelf-life of hay by up to four days; hay can be fed up to 24 hours post steaming

Be user-friendly for day-in, day-out use; even in the busiest yards

Be significantly more effective at reducing microbes in hay compared to homemade steamers and soaking

Why Not Soaking?

Soaking hay in water wets airborne particles to keep down dust, but there are a number of obvious disadvantages to this method:

  • It is a physically arduous, cold, wet and messy task
  • It uses 60-100 litres of water
  • Soaking leaves live micro-organisms in the hay; these quickly multiply, particularly in warm, damp conditions, thereby compromising the hygienic quality of the forage
  • Soaking hay reduces respirable particles but leaches nutrients out of the forage and, as with partial steaming, bacteria levels increase by two to five-fold. This produces poor quality, more contaminated forage which can raise the risk of enteritis and colic. High losses of WSC, protein and minerals occur when hay is soaked for as little as 10 minutes
  • These nutrients in the waste water produce a post-soak liquid 9 times more polluting than raw sewage which must not be disposed of in storm drains.
Emmanuelle van Erck

Emmanuelle van Erck
DVM, PhD Dip. ECEIM, Equine Sports Medicine Practice
See all publications

“Horses live and work in environmental conditions that promote chronic respiratory inflammation. The prevalence of lower airway diseases is largely underestimated because it is not always accompanied by obvious clinical signs.

Medications treat the symptoms but not its initial cause, which often lies in the environment. Changes in environmental management are essential to bring long term relief.

Haygain hay steamers are a simple, fool-proof solution to improve our horse’s respiratory health. I recommend it for my patients and those owners who have adopted it really see the daily benefit it brings to their horses and would not revert to normal hay; and the horses love it!!”