Home / Soaking Vs Steaming

Did you know....

Although soaking hay dampens down 90% of respirable particles, it dramatically increases the bacterial content of the hay - in fact in just 10 minutes by 150% and can go on to 500%!

Soaking also reduces palatability and leaches valuable nutrients; but more concerning is the effect on the environment - post-soak liquid is 9X more polluting than raw sewage.

How can Haygain help?

While soaking increases bacteria by 150-500%, steaming hay dramatically reduces bacteria and mould content by up to 99%.

But steamed hay also keeps the nutritional value of the hay in tact, and has no toxic waste.

And the horses love it! A study by Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. and Payne, V. (2012) showed Haygain steamed hay, once tasted was always the first to be consumed.

1. Stockdale, C and Moore-Colyer, M.J.S (2010) Steaming hay for horses: The effect of three different treatments on the respirable particle numbers in hay treated in the Haygain steamer. European Workshop for Equine Nutrition, Cirencester, Sept 2010. The Impact of nutrition on the health and welfare of horses. EAAP publication No. 128. Ed Ellis, A., Longland, A.C., Coenen, M and Miraglia, N. p136-138

2. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S and Fillery, B.G. (2012) The Effect of three different treatments on the respirable particle content, total viable count and mould concentrations in hay for horses. 6th European Workshop for Equine Nutrition, Lisbon, Portugal, June. 101- 106.

3. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. Taylor, J. and James, R (2015). The effect of steaming and soaking on the respirable particle, bacteria, mould and nutrient content in hay for horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug 2015

4. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. Taylor, J. and James, R (2015). The effect of steaming and soaking on the respirable particle, bacteria, mould and nutrient content in hay for horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug 2015

5. Wyss, U. and Pradervand, N. (2016) Steaming or Soaking. Agroscope Science. Nr 32 p32-33

6. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. and Payne, V. (2012) Palatability and ingestion behaviour of 6 polo ponies offered a choice of dry, soaked and steamed hay for 1 hour on three separate occasions. Advances in Animal Biosciences. Healthy Food from Healthy Animals. Vol 3 part 1. 127

7. Brown, E., Tracey, S and Gowers, I. (2013) An investigation to determine the palatability of steamed hay, dry hay and haylage. Proceedings of British Society of Animal Science Conference, Nottingham April 2013. p 104

8. James, R. and Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. (2013) Hay for horses: The nutrient content of hay before and after steam treatment in a commercial hay steamer. Proceedings of British Society of Animal Science Conference, Nottingham April 2013.

9. Moore-Colyer, M.J.S. Taylor, J. and James, R (2015). The effect of steaming and soaking on the respirable particle, bacteria, mould and nutrient content in hay for horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Aug 2015

10. Warr EM, Petch JL (1992) Effects of soaking hay on its nutritional quality. Eq.Vet.Edu. 5:169–171.

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.