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Vinegar Smell on Soaked Hay? IR/Laminitic Horse

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  • Vinegar Smell on Soaked Hay? IR/Laminitic Horse

    I am having to soak hay for my laminitic horse while we wait for testing results -- both for him (suspect insulin resistance) and the hay. I'm noticing a fairly strong vinegar odor after I soak the hay -- more in the water than the actual hay. I am aware of the use of vinegar or similar to prevent mold -- this is a 1st cutting timothy from this year, and we did have an incredibly cool, wet spring even by PNW standards. The horse with the soaked hay eats it just fine, and my other picky horse is eating it dry. Should I be concerned at all that the vinegar still seems to be present? Would there be any downside to the vinegar with the IR/Laminitic horse? The hay looks good and I haven't run across any bad bales, and when dry, there is no odor.

  • #2
    Acetic acid is a normal by product of fermentation in the equine gut. Think of it as 'predigested' feed. No worries.
    Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


    • #3
      And anyway, vinegar (apple cider) is good for your horses.


      • #4
        Any possibility that the hay was sprayed or "acid cured" to allow baling? Usually the seller will tell you this, hay does smell a bit like pickles even dry. Our hay person said they spray the hay as it enters the baler, and this allowed high moisture hay to be safely baled, doesn't mold or heat up. They use proprionic acid for the spraying. Spelling may be off, but that is the stuff! Sometimes you can't get the crop baled and in, without the spray.

        My horses loved the sprayed hay, which actually seemed to retain ALL feed values over the whole winter. The parts with no sunshine on them were always green as grass, no fading at all. We fed less hay with this kind, horses still quite happy and looked very good. Bales are heavier than regular bales with the spray on them. Never was dusty for us. I would buy it again if offered, that was good stuff.


        • #5
          I agree it sounds like proprionic acid hay preservative. The only way to know for sure would be to ask your hay guy if it was sprayed.

          Hay preservatives should cause on harm if applied in accordance with the preservative manufactures instructions.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks, all - it sounds like it is safe to assume it is just the preservative, and not a sign that the soaked hay is bad or anything. When I first noticed the odor, I thought I had let the hay sit too long and it was bad, then realized I was smelling it as I drained the hay right after soaking.

            I so hope this hay tests okay so we don't have to keep soaking it. If it is a pain this time of year, I cannot imagine what this winter will be like!


            • #7
              Well I've spent the last couple of days cutting 70 acres of hay. I'm wondering if what you've got might be the reason why I've been waiting for the past 3 weeks to decide when to get started. Or even whether I'll be doing any hay at all and going to all haylage.

              I'm thinking from what you've said that it just wasn't allowed to be dry enough when it was baled.

              What happens is that it starts to ferment and the process can produce this "vinegary" or sileagey smell. That's a sickly sweet and sour smell.

              If this occurs, the process may become anaerobic and produce these phytotoxic materials in small quantities. As such it's not to be fed to horses if that's what it is because you'll have a very high risk of colic.

              When that happens horses can be reluctant to eat - unless of course you've got cobs or ponies when they'll eat it even if you don't bother to take the netting or twine off it!

              Let's hope that it is just something been used on the hay. I'd be inclined to suggest that you phone the farmer you bought it off and ask him if he checks moisture content prior to baling or if he used anything on it as a preservative.

              I'd also be inclined to unwrap the bale and spread it out in the sun to let it dry and see if it smells when you do that.


              • Original Poster

                The bales that I have opened so far have been dry - no signs of mold or previous wet baling (the hay pulls apart easily, not dusty). No smell on the dry hay that I can discern. It is only after I have soaked it in water for an hour or so for the possible-IR horse that I notice the odor. Neither the horse getting wet hay nor the horse getting it dry have hesitated at all about eating it.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by horsepoor View Post
                  I so hope this hay tests okay so we don't have to keep soaking it. If it is a pain this time of year, I cannot imagine what this winter will be like!
                  Oh just wait There is nothing that will make you rethink your chosen hobby quicker than soaking hay in sub zero weather (Hint: stock up on dish gloves)

                  And don't worry... your horse likely won't mind eating haysicles.
                  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                    Oh just wait There is nothing that will make you rethink your chosen hobby quicker than soaking hay in sub zero weather (Hint: stock up on dish gloves)

                    And don't worry... your horse likely won't mind eating haysicles.
                    Fortunately, we don't get a lot of truly cold weather here, but this might provide the impetus for SO to get the water heater in our barn finally hooked up. It has only sat in there, ready to install, for 3 years now...

                    And I did get some fabulous nitrile gloves that go to my elbows that have proved very useful fishing hay out of water. Fun times!