Soaking Haypersil grass affected!

Why Soak Your Hay?

Soaking hay renders it more suitable for over-weight horses, those that have Equine Metabolic Syndrome, especially those who have or are recovering from laminitis.
There are also obvious benefits for head-shaking/flicking horses and those with PSSM, not from a point of view of weight loss but for reducing potassium intake until they are back to normal.
There is no need to soak the hay for healthy horses who don’t have issues..

Soaking vs 'Wetting' or Steaming'...

‘Soaking’ is different to ‘wetting’ the hay to get rid of dust or ‘steaming’ which is a sterilizing process for horses with respiratory problems. Neither wetting nor steaming reduces sugars or potassium content.



What does soaking achieve?

Hay is weighted down to stop it floating

Soaking hay reduces both sugar and potassium content, both of which are pluses.
Studies have shown that while crude protein levels aren’t lowered, Phosphorus and Magnesium concentrations are with longer soaking times (more than an hour).  
Hence make sure you are adding a high spec multi-mineral to ensure the horse gets his daily nutrient requirements. The goal is to reduce calories not cause any other problems over this period. Soaking is usually a short term measure.
It should be noted that soaking does not guarantee that the hay will end up less than the 10% sugars recommended for laminitic equines.  But it is very worthwhile to do it especially when it is a challenge to locate suitable low sugar hay.
In Victoria, Australia, there is an excellent hay making company (Top Foda) who have learned how to produce low sugar/low potassium hay that does not need to be soaked. When you purchase the hay they provide a Feed& Mineral Analysis. You know exactly what you are feeding. A trend which will catch on we hope!

Draining the water out after soaking.

How long should I soak it?

Soaking hay in cold water for 60 minutes reduces sugar content by 20 – 30% and potassium by approx 50%. Soaking hay for longer can lead to loss of other minerals.

How do I do it?

The easiest way is in a large tub – old bath tubs are ideal with the plug at the bottom - situated near your hose.
Small tubs don’t work because the water to hay ratio is too low. You need quite a lot of water compared to hay otherwise the water becomes saturated too quickly and cannot soak out any more.
You do need to renew the water for each new load of hay to avoid fermentation starting especially in warmer weather.
Put your hay into small mesh hay bags to soak.
Further rinsing (optional) of the hay before feeding will get rid of any of the remaining sugary water. There is no need to dry the hay before you feed it.
The left-over water is great for watering your garden!

What's with the water colour?

The colour of the water is due to pigments leaching out of the hay and bears no relationship to the amount of sugar leached out.

Surprisingly, most horses take to soaked hay really well.

Soaking hay is quite hard work!

The wet hay is heavy after soaking so strategic placement of soaking tubs is a good idea. You will also need sturdy wheel barrows or carts in order to move the hay from A to B