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The Benefits of Steaming Hay

A recent study* found 88% of horses were suffering from Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) and that steaming hay with a Haygain hay steamer reduced the incidence by 65%. Plus there are a range of other benefits.

How does IAD impact your Horse

IAD can affect horses of all ages and clinical signs include poor performance (exercise intolerance and poor recovery), nasal discharge and occasional coughing at rest and/or during exercise. 


Clinical signs are often subtle and horses have normal breathing at rest, so IAD can go unnoticed while affecting the horses ability to perform.


Common treatments prescribed by veterinarians include bronchodilators and corticosteroids but the key to both prevention and management of IAD is reducing exposure to airborne dust.

Steam, don't Soak

The IAD study found that IAD was closely linked to the dust found in hay, and that simply by steaming hay with a Haygain hay steamer the incidence of IAD reduced by 65%.

Other benefits of steaming your hay include:

  • Increased palatability - several studies show how horses prefer steamed hay over dry and soaked hay

  • Hydration - steamed hay provides a useful additional source of water in high temperatures

  • Retains nutritional value – unlike soaking, steaming retains the nutritional goodness of the hay including protein and minerals with just a small, variable loss of water soluble carbohydrate

What the Champions say

“I love using Haygain Steamed Hay because it helps improve my horses’ respiratory conditions and stopped them from coughing,” “With Haygain’s help, I can make sure the hay wherever I go is never dusty and it’s bacteriafree, so my horses don’t have any issues during competitions.”

Jessica Springsteen, Team USA
American Gold Cup Champion: 2014 Olympic Team Alternate: 2012


“[We] take the smaller unit away to competitions all over Europe, which we find essential. The horses have been free from coughs and nasal discharge, they are healthy and performing well.”

William Fox-Pitt, Team GBR Three Olympic Medals, seven World Championship medals



“It’s been a game changer. Havanna loves her hay, she’s eating well and she’s not having the allergic skin symptoms. She is shiny, well-muscled. It smells so good I want to eat it myself. It’s a fabulous machine that I can’t say enough good things about.”

Ashley Holzer, Team USA
International Dressage Rider, 4x Canadian Olympian, One Olympic medal

What the Veterinarians say

“We have used Haygain for foals with severe Rhodococcusequi pneumonia to aid in reducing the amount of inhaled allergens when they eat hay. We have also steamed bedding (ie: straw, not shavings) for the same reduction of potential inhaled allergens. For our colic surgeries that are not eating well, we have used Haygain to entice those horses to consume more roughage. The fresh aroma after the hay has been steamed appears to increase many horse's appetite postsurgery. I have first-hand experience with this product because not only do I use Haygain at my hospital, but for my own personal dressage and racehorses as well.”
Nathan Slovis

DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, CHT Director of the McGee Critical Care and Medical Center Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Lexington, Kentucky

Well-known veterinarian Steve Engle, DVM suggests that all Margie’s horses start getting steamed hay as an all-around preventative measure for their respiratory health. [...] With more knowledge comes more awareness. In his view, inflammation throughout the horse’s body is the biggest performance limiter in otherwise sound horses. “This is what we seek to control in all aspects of health and disease and ultimately (and hopefully) improve performance in our sport horses.”
Dr Steve Engle, DVM
Equine Integrated Veterinary Solutions, NY, USA

* Dauvillier J, Woort F. T, Van Erck‐Westergren E. disease (2018) Fungi in respiratory samples of horses with inflammatory airway, Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 2018;1-8