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Soaking hay in winter (need suggestions)

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  • Soaking hay in winter (need suggestions)

    Hi everyone,

    I have started having to soak my horses hay to remove sugar (possible IR). With winter looming, I am wondering what people do because I am assuming it will start to freeze before she finishes it. Also how long do most people soak it for? I am doing 20-30 min.

    Thanks for any input!

  • #2

    Try Chaffhaye instead, easier to feed and no soaking.
    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
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    • #3

      How easy is it to get Chaffhaye? I think the closest dealer is on the coast from me.


      • #4
        OP, where are you? What kind of winter do you face?
        20-30 min is not really very long to be removing sugar. 1 hr is a min for cold water. If it isn't much below freezing, I can soak mine outside the barn and that much water and hay doesn't freeze. If it is below 20, I put the wheelbarrow and hay in the tackroom, full of water. I don't have heat but have never had it freeze solid there. I wheel the whole thing out of the tackroom and barn and pour out the water. If the hay freezes, I don't know because it is all gone by the next time I look. I soak the evening hay for 3-6 hrs and the morning hay overnight.


        • Original Poster


          I am in New England and the winters can be pretty fierce here some days. I have read soaking much past 1/2 hour will remove all the nutrients from the hay so I was worried about soaking much longer. Have you heard different?


          • #6
            Originally posted by Melyni View Post
            Try Chaffhaye instead, easier to feed and no soaking.
            That has molasses in it, probably not the best idea.
            Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


            • #7
              General rule is one hour in cold and 1/2 hour in hot water. No significant amount of nutrients are leached out by soaking, except for sugar and potassium content can be affected from what I understand. Many members of the Equine Cushings group have tested the hay after soaking and that's what they found.


              • #8
                I just had to laugh when I read. op, what kind of winters do you face?
                I am in New england too, and the high can be 10 for weeks on end. Everything gets frozen, and does not thaw till spring. I basically think of january and february as frozen glacier months. No different than the tundra.

                Its pretty challenging.
                I think I would soak the hay in a haynet in a muck size bucket. Dumping that much water starts to become an issue too, since it freezes, but if you have to soak, that is how I would do it.
                save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                • #9
                  Hopefully Katy Watts will check in. From everything I have read, 1 hr is minimum unless you have enough hot water to cover it.
                  We don't have the same kind of cold you do but it can stay below freezing for days at a time. I use BIG rectangle wheelbarrow and put the hay in then cover with water. I store it in the tackroom which is not heated but it has never frozen through. I wheel it out and turn it up to drain when I go to the barn and by the time I have fed, it is ready to put out, by wheeling it into the field and putting out the flakes. It is frozen around the edges maybe, but everyone seems happy enough with it anyway.
                  I guess if I lived somewhere with that much cold, I'd test my hay to be sure I really had to soak it anyway. For me, I soak also for allergies so reducing the sugar is an added benefit.


                  • #10
                    I used to soak it in my barn aisle where it was less likely to freeze. Now, we are getting by with our last stubbornly fat mare with a tub outside (for now) and soaking enough hay all day for two feedings and not having to let it sit in water overnight.

                    Could you put a stock tank heater in the water and keep it open that way? Another option is to insulate the tank or container you use. You'd be shocked what you can do to keep a plastic 30 gal trash can from freezing with some bubble wrap and hot water heater insulation wrapped around it! I used to do that in New York and with a Styrofoam float my water tubs would say open well under freezing all day and night. I also wrapped a black trash bag around the insulation to keep it dry and to soak up the sun's heat more.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                      Could you put a stock tank heater in the water and keep it open that way?
                      What I did we had to soak hay for two or three was to put a stock tank de-icer (not heater) in a 100 gallon tank. Put the hay in nets and soak. To drain the tank, I would leave a hose attached to the drain plug at the bottom and drain it into the woods so we didn't get ice everywhere, crimped the hose when I needed the tank to stay filled. I read recently (here I think) about someone who soaks their hay in a plastic laundry basket inside of a muck bucket, sort of like a giant colander. I am going to give that a try as I am only soaking for one now.
                      Ridge Farm Inc.-full care retirement


                      • #12
                        Wow, you guys should move south! I was hoping for some great suggestions, as I also have an IR horse who requires soaked hay, and it is no fun in the winter. But in NC, we definitely don't need to worry about the water freezing that quickly. I also have been told by my vet that 30 minutes is fine with hot water, but an hour is needed with cold water. What we struggle with is lifting wet hay without getting covered in it (would be nice to find an easier solution for the barn owner), and finding somewhere to drain the water without making a mess.


                        • #13
                          I wet my horse's hay before feeding to eliminate dust and I also live in the frozen north. In the winter, I keep a floating water tank de-icer in the trough that I submerge the hay in. It keeps it from freezing, but I still have to change the water every few days. I don't have a good solution for that (no wash stall) except to keep the trough near the manure pile and dump the water there so most of it gets absorbed by the manure, but there does often end up being an icy puddle, which is far enough out of the way that everyone can avoid it.
                          I also use plastic laundry baskets to submerge hay, then let the water drain back into the trough so I don't have to refill the trough quite so often


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by theoldgreymare View Post
                            What I did we had to soak hay for two or three was to put a stock tank de-icer (not heater) in a 100 gallon tank. Put the hay in nets and soak. To drain the tank, I would leave a hose attached to the drain plug at the bottom and drain it into the woods so we didn't get ice everywhere, crimped the hose when I needed the tank to stay filled. I read recently (here I think) about someone who soaks their hay in a plastic laundry basket inside of a muck bucket, sort of like a giant colander. I am going to give that a try as I am only soaking for one now.
                            Thanks for the correction. I meant a de icer!


                            • #15
                              My trainer soaks hay and uses a pulley system to make lifting the haynets easier. She clips a leadrope to the haynet's string, then runs it over an old wheelbarrow wheel (The metal part. I'm sure that's what it is!). they wheel hangs from the roof on two lengths of strong wire, attatched to a metel rod through the wheel. It's really easy to pull the wet haynets out of the water and lower them into the wheelbarrow.
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