Why Steam Hay and Haylage?


Good quality hay can be hard to find. If the nutritional and hygienic quality of the fodder is lower than normal. The lower nutritional value i.e., the energy, protein and mineral contents can be remedied by balancing the diet with bagged fibre feeds such as dried alfalfa, sugar beet pulp and high fibre cubes. However, the fact that the horse must be fed long fibre i.e. hay / haylage to maintain normal gut function and ingestion behaviour, will mean that horses may be exposed to fodder of poor hygienic quality, which is dusty and mouldy hay and haylage.

Steaming with a HAYGAIN hay steamer kills mould, fungal spores and bacteria – the allergens found in hay and referred to as “dust”. This type of dust is easily inhaled, reaching deep-down into the airways where it can cause allergenic respiratory disorders which seriously affect the breathing of your horse. Although some stabled horses show no reaction to the dust (e.g. coughing, nasal discharge, expiratory effort), research has shown that many have lost 30% of their maximum lung capacity, which invariably leads to a loss in performance.

Feeding poor quality hay poses other risks to health. One of the biggest causes of death of horses in the UK is colic, and feeding poor quality hay, that is low in nutrient value and high in mould and bacteria significantly increases the risk of colic. This risk will be greater this year particularly if you soak this season’s poor quality forage.

Soaking is the traditional way to deal with dusty fodder. Soaking does indeed reduce the dust, but it also causes significant loss of valuable nutrients, increases the bacteria content of the hay, produces post-soak liquor that is an environmental pollutant and is almost impossible to do in freezing weather. Steaming creates no waste and retains the quality of the hay.


Steaming is easy; the bale is placed into the fully insulated steam chest and pushed firmly down onto the spiked manifold. The hay should be steamed for 50-60 minutes depending on environmental temperature and bale density. The freshly steamed hay is extremely hot but quickly cools and can be fed immediately.

Steaming is cost-effective. HAYGAIN steamed hay is very palatable so you get less wastage, and savings are seen in water bills (if you currently soak) and potential vet bills in the long run.

HAYGAIN hay steamers are scientifically-proven to produce palatable, dust-free hay and haylage, helping to maintain a healthy respiratory system to enhance performance and equine well being. Here the experts at HAYGAIN explain the benefits of steaming hay and haylage.

HAYGAIN is currently available in four models: the HG-1000, HG-600, HG-ONE and HG-GO. With all the units steamed hay is ready to feed immediately after steaming cycles of less than 50 minutes depending on model. Complete nutritional value and goodness are maintained with improved palatability and digestibility.

For further information please contact Haygain on (0333) 200 5233 or visit www.haygain.co.uk

Author: The Editor

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