Did a quick search on here but if this is a repeat topic I apologize.
In reading the benefits of soaking hay and knowing there is no way it will be in my budget to buy one of the new commercial models you see in Dover, etc, I'm brainstorming to see how I can accomplish the same thing.
In the past, I have stuffed hay into muck tubs, and used a piece of twine strung across the top to keep hay under water, then dumped tubs over after an hour or so and fed from that. Very messy, very time consuming.
I'm considering modifying my feed program to give alfalfa pellets throughout the day and then feeding free-choice soaked grass hay overnight so that I only need to do the soaking process once (right now feeding hay 4-5 times/day, have no desire to go through the process that much!). Then, I would only need to soak one bale of hay.
Rough plans include buying some sort of rubber tub that is a little longer and a little deeper than an average bale of hay. Put a bale of hay in, take off twine and spread apart a little. Fill with water, secure lid, and soak. Then just take off lid and turn the whole thing over so it drains, but I imagine that would be very heavy and messy.
Anyone else come up with something that accomplishes the same thing? Is there an easier way? All advice appreciated!
People I know soaking, put the hay in a hay net, then drop into the water container. Net allows them to lift each feeding out and hang on a post or fence panel for animal to eat. They hung hay net from BOTH ends to keep it stretched out, up high and not catch a hoof as it sagged with no hay left. Newer hay nets come with LITTLE holes, for slower consumption. So the animal could be stretched out, for more time between needing another serving. Horses ate the hay wet or frozen.
I don't think dealing with an ENTIRE bale of wet hay in the tank would be fun. So portioning it out before dunking COULD save you time and getting VERY wet, when you pull it out to serve to the animals.
You won't want to do this bale quantity in summer, fermentation would make hay bad in the tank pretty quick. You probably should empty the tank now and again to get dirty water gone, prevent fermentation as weather gets warmer.
Are you soaking to soften hay or remove dust? I would think that a good wetting of a bag of hay in summer, should remove dust pretty quick, without needing hours of soaking in water and losing some of the nutrition.
For the tub with holes I highly recommend a round laundry basket -- voila, the holes are already there! And many more of them than I'm inclined to drill. This actually works quite well. I still am likely to tip over the whole configuration (laundry basket and the muck bucket it's sitting in) just because wet hay is So. Freakin'. Heavy!! But with the laundry basket I'm able to hang (if I've made a hay string handle) or sit the basket to drain before I absolutely have to pick it up!
Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
What Joz said. The round Sterilite laundry baskets fit inside muck buckets (though the rim will crack eventually -- it's not a perfect fit and they're not designed to hold that much weight.) I did drill half a dozen holes in the bottom of the laundry basket to allow it to drain more fully.
My other setup involves a rectangular laundry basket and a mixing tub from TSC. The tub will just fit one flake of hay, then I lift and plop the wet hay in the laundry basket to drain. Flip the tub over and set the basket on top of it to keep it out of the dirt. This is messier for me, but uses less water. Filling a muck bucket to soak a flake of hay seems wasteful.
Maybe the bales the OP is using aren't that big? I'm still thinking it would be pretty darn heavy once wet and that alone would discourage me - I weighed some of my hay nets once just for kicks and seems they were 3x the original dry weight once the hay soaked.
We did the drilled muck bucket in another bucket method at first but I didn't like that as it was hard to pull out for me and hang on to while it drained. I always ended up with water in my boots, etc. And the tubs sometimes got stuck together, which added to the fun. The laundry basket didn't work for me as the holes were so big on the one I tried, the hay departed with the water when draining.
My IR horse gets his hay weighed out and delivered to him in small mesh hay nets. I'm soaking it right now while I am using some untested hay until I get the NSC tests back (hopefully the hay I just got in will be low enough I don't need to soak). I just fill the nets with his ration and soak that in a rubbermaid tub, weighted down to keep it under the water. I have a metal grill thing we had around that I put over our ditch outside the barn near where we soak the hay - I pull the net out of the water, toss it on the grill to drain, and then feed. So far, that has been the easiest method I've found that works for me.
I put a cinder block on top of my wet hay, and use a muck tub, since only the small pony gets it. It gets soaked next to the manure pile, so the water doesn't make the ground all yucky-it already is! Lol. The muck tub fits 2large, or 3 average sized flakes of hay.
You could do a whole bale at a time, but would have to invest in a large stock tank, since those have the drainage plugs in them that you can undo with a wrench. They are WAY too heavy to turn over! Also, you would have to hang out at the barn to let it soak for a hour (during hot weather) because it would ferment if soaked for too long.
"On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."
My first thought is if you want to soak an entire bale of hay, would it be better to use one of the Rubbermaid horse troughs? I devised a way to make it easy to drain-it's in the pitchforkchronicles website below in the step by step section.
If it is a smaller quantity, how about a laundry tub that has a plug at the bottom? You could attach a chain to the plug and hang it outside the tub so you wouldn't have to get your hands wet when emptying it. Like Ainsley suggested, be sure to have it drain in an area you don't mind getting wet because that's a lot of water daily draining in the same spot!
I think I would go with the small mesh haynet versions that have been suggested above-it would be an easier way to move the hay after its been soaked.
If your really clever & watch Big Bang Theory rig up a rope through a ring, attach the rope via clip to the hay net, run the rope through the ring, soak then pull the hay up and let drain, tie up out of the water. Yeah its gonna be water everywhere but we soak hay in the washroom so its ok for us Do as much hay as you can pull out of the water but since its like a pulley its easier than a deadlift.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker
What about a nice sized cooler? like the kind used to store drinks in. Those have drains at the bottom (at least most of them do, the larger ones), if you're wanting to drain the water each time you soak the hay. Otherwise, I agree with using a slow feed hay net and just "dipping" the hay bag into the trough or bucket to let it soak.
Thank you everyone! A lot of great ideas. I generally feed an evening meal around 6 or so, so want to create something simple: throw bale in, start filling, and have it full by the time I'm done with chores and feeding. At night check/feeding, empty tub and let drain while i fill waters, etc, so that hay is ready to be fed by the time I'm done with that. Hopefully won't be too time consuming. Since I have more time than $, thinking I will put multiple drains in the water tub or cooler (using pitchforkchronicles step by step) so that water drains fairly quickly. Maybe get someone handy to put tub or cooler on wheels, and just push it down the aisle and feed, could maybe put drains on the bottom too, that way! Think we're onto something here....
If you would like to put your workable solution on my website, let me know!
Most of the reason I started the website is because it's much easier to show pictures with text rather than trying to describe solutions. When I see a post that's a sea of words, I usually don't bother reading it through. I also liked the idea of a website being a "clearinghouse" of sorts for horse farm solutions.
Anyone interested in sharing their solutions is welcome to contact me.
Also I will apologize in advance for constantly promoting my website but I'm also lazy and if I've bothered to put it on the website, it saves me from trying to describe it over and over again on the forums.