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New to soaking hay - some questions

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  • New to soaking hay - some questions

    I'm sorry if this has been covered in other threads but after two days of reading threads about IR and ESPM, I'm slowing losing my mind and an hoping to get my life back in order soon!

    Anyway, am now going to be soaking my IR/maybe ESPM (that's a whole nother thread)'s gelding grass hay. No more alfalfa, obviously, although theres's a tiny, tiny amount in this orchard (less than 5%).

    1. I understand you need to soak hay at least 60 minutes. Is there a limit as to how LONG you can soak? I mean, do you soak the am hay the night before and the pm hay in the morning? Please say yes - I can't imagine getting up two hours early to soak the am feed!

    2. Is soaking hay like beet pulp - do you need to first soak and then rinse? Or is just soaking enough.

    3. Any tips for the just plain old easiest way to soak, say eight pounds of hay. I was thinking putting it in a hay net, putting that into an old muck bucket, filling with water, then when it's time to feed, take out hay net, shake and feed. Please tell me it's that simple. If you do need to rinse, how do you do it - take a hose or what?

    4. How much water do you need to add?

    5. Any other tips?

    Thank you in advance. I'm THIS close to losing my mind over the last two weeks of life with my horses.

    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.

  • #2
    Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


    • #3
      I used to soak hay for a horse with heaves but I don't think it is any different. I used to put the hay in a hay net and soak it overnight for the morning feed and during the day for the night feeding. In the summer it can get to be difficult in the day cause it gets warm and could potentially start to ferment a little but I always kept in the coolest darkest place and never had a problem. Also, in the winter there is the problem of the water freezing, but if you use a hay net in a deep container you can use a sinking heater to keep the water warm as long as the hay doesn't touch the heater and there is plenty of water. If you have a heated room to keep it in then you don't have to worry about heating the water, or if you live somewhere where it doesn't get too cold, again, no problem.
      The hay net also lets you drain the hay easily so you don't get too wet trying to feed afterwards. I suggest you use a nylon net though, the cotton ones don't hold up as well to repeated soakings.
      Hope this helps.


      • #4
        I bought a couple of the big Rubbermaid storage containers (square 31 gal?) and I put about 3 flakes of our local hay in each. ( these containers are a perfect fit!) If it's cold out, I bring them in the house and place one in the bathtub, fill it with hot tap water and let it soak for an hour roughly. then I dump it (it's the color of molasses when it's done!) then I fill it with cold water and let it soak for about 30 to 40 minutes to rinse it AND cool the hay back down, dump it and feed it out.
        I do suppliment with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants etc., and it does sound like a lot of work but it becomes a simple routine real quick and the horse is healthy and happy and I have peace of mind that he'll stay that way.


        • #5
          I thought I would mention too to get a strainer cover (small disc with holes in it) for the bath tub for when you drain the hay to avoid plugging problems!
          Last edited by Cayusepapoose; Mar. 14, 2009, 03:32 PM. Reason: spelling


          • #6
            soaking hay

            I bought a Rubbermaid container and a Laundry Basket and put the hay in the laundry basket and then put that into the Rubbermaid container. Then you can prop the basket onto the side of the container to drain while you are doing other things in the barn, then dump the hay in the stall after draining. I found this to work well because in the summer the flies were attracted to the water. I can put the lid on all of it while it is soaking. In the winter it did not freeze...I'm in the South. I keep it in the washrack so that it is easy to empty. With this system I don't have to carry the container filled with water either!!


            • Original Poster

              So you do have to rinse afterwards, not just soak?

              And how much water should you put in?


              R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

              Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.


              • #8
                I soak all my hay the day before anywhere from 2 to 3 hours (ukhy brown-ish tea water left by that time ).
                I do so by throwing the haynets either in a big wastebin or else one of the those large double wheel wheelbarrows filled to the rim. Just soak no rinse.
                I pull the hay out 3 hours later that evening (ouch my back, that stuff is heavy) and bag it in lawn/leaf bags left open at top and then turn the bags upside down to leak out during the night, whilst the hay stays very moist, excess water can leak out. The next morning I have my 2 large haynets ready for my boy's am & pm hay. The following night same routine .

                I used to only soak my heavy horse's hay. But then decided it wouldn't harm soaking my other horse's hay too, less sugar better for him .

                Only "major" downside, the haynets are pretty damn heavy and I swear this is why my back hurts so much everyday. I keep telling hubby he needs to make me a hoist to hang up those buggers .


                • #9
                  How much water? - So hay(nets) are totally submerged.
                  Do you have to rinse afterwards? - I never do, just let it leak out whilst coverd in a bag to maintain moisture until ready to use.

                  I had to stop soaking over winter once the temps dropped below 15F, coz then the hay would freeze over in the haynets during the night and my boys refuse to eat frozen hay.


                  • Original Poster

                    Sorry - another dumb question. If you're feeding a horse in a stall (with pelleted bedding), doesn't the bedding get all over the wet hay (assuming not feeding the hay in a hay net, but throwing it into the feeder). My horse takes his hay and dumps it, first thing.

                    I would think bedding-covered hay would not be a good thing.

                    Does everyone feed their wet hay in a hay net???
                    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

                    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.


                    • #11
                      I do things a little bit differently - I cannot lift anything heavy.
                      I use two buckets - put hay in one and hose/water to cover the hay - swirl around - and let sit for at least an hour. (using cold water - I think using warm water could soak less time). Have second bucket right there with water - and transfer the soaked hay by hand/clumps into the second bucket - letting the hay drain a bit between buckets. Dump/refill first bucket and transfer hay back to it. Dump the second bucket and transfer hay from the last rinse into it to feed. Use a muck bucket/whatever. I don't like the hay to sit and stew in the sugar juices - and I feel better rinsing it an extra time or two. It is easier on my back etc to move it all by handfulls. I could not lift a haynet full of wet hay.
                      Also found that dumping over a muck bucket full of water and hay - to drain the water - also difficult. Good luck - once you develop your own system - all will be OK!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ljc View Post
                        Sorry - another dumb question. If you're feeding a horse in a stall (with pelleted bedding), doesn't the bedding get all over the wet hay (assuming not feeding the hay in a hay net, but throwing it into the feeder). My horse takes his hay and dumps it, first thing.

                        I would think bedding-covered hay would not be a good thing.

                        Does everyone feed their wet hay in a hay net???
                        Buy large rubbermaid tubs. You can put 2, 3, 4 flakes - whatever you need, just buy the big enough tub.

                        I stand the flakes up edge wise so they're sitting on their ends like this:

                        | | | |

                        I do not stack them like this:


                        and lay them flat because when I used to do that, I would find dry spots in the middle.

                        Use enough water to completely submerge the hay. You wants LOTS of water.

                        Soak at least 30-60 minutes for HOT water, and 60 minutes+ for cold water. My hay always sits for 12 hours in the water. Yes, 12 HOURS. I put it in to soak in the a.m. for the p.m. feeding, and vice versa.

                        As for bedding getting wet - I use the lid from the Rubbermaid to set the hay on once it is well drained. Of course if you have a piggy horse, this won't work but in Libbey's case, she just eats the hay off her tray.

                        To make it easier on yourself, I tip the tub upside down and let it drain for at least 15 minutes while I go do something else. Then tip it back over, and drag it to the stall. The first time you do this, every horse in the barn will fly up and hit the ceiling. It is LOUD to drag a plastic rubbermaid down a concrete barn aisle. It sounds like a jet coming in for a landing in your crossties. But they get used to it. Use grass strings to tie onto the handle so you don't hump over and hurt your back.

                        I drag the tub to the stall, then dump the hay onto the lid. You get very LITTLE water on yourself this way.

                        People have developed fancy schmancy pulley systems and big barrels with drains, but for one horse eating about 18 lbs. of hay a day, I just never found it necessary. The rubbermaid dealies work awesome.

                        Hay Net:

                        Yes, sometimes I do. Since Pergolide, Libbey has gotten VERY picky about eating. I have to switch things up to keep it interesting for her. One day hay is on the lid, next day in a net. I tried soaking the whole net, then pulling the net out of the water, I never found a good way to do it that didn't hurt my back or get me soaked. Trying to pull up a hay net full of wet hay from a barrel or rubbermaid is impossible. It weighs 80 pounds I swear.

                        So what I do is this, after hay is soaked, I tip rubbermaid tub upside down on top of drain in feed room. Let drain for 15 minutes. Come back with a net and gently pull the tub up and off of the hay. Put the net down on top of the hay, tip the hay on its side and scoot it into the net, pull up the string, and you're done. Set the net inside the tub, then drag to where you want to hang.

                        It takes precisely ONE back spasm severe enough to land you in the emergency room before you quit pulling wet hay nets out of tubs. LOL! Crawling on the barn aisle to the lawn then laying on the grass for hours because you can't move your legs is scary stuff. Then having to lay on the floor board of a car for someone to drive you the 500 feet to the house then sitting all night in the ER doped on morphine and scalaxin really sucks.


                        • #13
                          I've been soaking hay for over 4 yrs for 2 different horses. The first horse I soaked the hay for 1 hr total and the 2nd one I've just been soaking for 20 minutes. No coughing from either one.

                          I put 2-3 flakes of hay in a hay net. Turn haynet upside down and submerge in a manure bucket of water (18 gallon tub) or a 16 gallon heated tub for winter. The hay at the top of the tub doesn't get wet so after 10 minutes I turn the hay so the top is now on the bottom.

                          After the 2nd 10 minute soak, I have a 5' high sawhorse that I throw the drawstring of the net over and pull it up to drain over the tub. As you go to pull it up, place the end of the drawstring thru the the top loops of the net. Then hold the net and pull on the drawstring. It's a pulley method and not at all hard to lift no matter how heavy and wet the hay is. I then let it drain for about 20 minutes or more. I then take it down, put a dry towel in the bottom of a dry muck basket and put the net in there to continue draining. I try NOT to feed right away, especially in the bitter cold that we get in our western NY winters. Since my horses are out together, both get wet hay so I end up soaking 6-8 nets/day.

                          To get the excess water out of the tubs, I just use a bucket and toss the water out the back door of the barn.

                          Hope this helps.

                          I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                          • #14
                            Another soaking question

                            If you're soaking the hay to remove some of the sugar for an IR horse (rather than eliminating the dust for a horse with heaves), can you soak it for a few hours, shake out as much water as possible then spread it out to dry a bit before feeding? I'm wondering if Liz's horse might like it better if it's a more normal consistency.


                            • #15
                              • Soak for 1 hour in cold or 1/2 in hot water
                              • Pull out and let drain - you can feed this hay later, either next morning or PM
                              • No need to rinse in any way usually
                              • Use haynet for conveniece - put heavy rock on top to keep it submerged
                              • Hang net somewhere to let it drain - no need to let it dry in any way, unless you were to feed it a couple of days later which I would not recommend
                              • Soaking will have no significant affect on other nutrients - this has been tried and tested by others
                              • Use haynet with small holes to simulate more natural feeding


                              • #16
                                This is how I do it. I have 3 muck buckets dedicated to soaking hay and a couple of cheapo hay nets. When my horse is eating from one muck bucket I have others occupied getting the next meal ready. I put the hay net in the muck bucket, stuff 2-3 flakes in depending on the size of the flakes and put a cinder block on top to hold it down all the way. You should soak in cold water for a minimum of 1 hour or hot water for 30 minutes. I always let is soak longer though. If it is cool outside I will prepare the evening hay in the morning and let it soak all day and the same for the morning's hay which soaks all night.

                                I have a hot water heater in the barn so in the cold weather I will rinse with hot water to warm it up. I think it helps get rid of some of the sugary water sticking to the hay and makes it more palatable when it is cold. My horse really likes the steaming hay when it is cold.

                                So after soaking I remove the block, pull the string on the net closed and push the whole thing over to get it out of the muck bucket (ie. no lifting of a super heavy net of hay). I let it sit and drain on the washrack or concrete and then move it. It's still heavy but not *as* heavy after the water drains well. If it is in a hay net you can tip your wheel barrow to the front and pull the hay net in without actually lifting the net. I've done the same to drag the muck bucket into the wheel barrow (my wheelbarrow is the Rubbermaid kind that can be operated with one hand.) If I want to feed in a stall I put it in a muckbucket without the hay net. My older horse isn't rowdy and will eat out of the bucket so she doesn't get shavings on it. Another horse is more playful with it so I sweep all the shavings out of one corner of his stall and still feed it in a muck bucket but if he dumps or drops the hay it is just on the mat and not in the shavings.

                                Sometimes I put the muck bucket directly in the wheelbarrow before adding the water. When it is finished soaking I wheel it out, pull handfuls of hay out and drape it over some wire mesh I have set up so it can drip dry in the sun. I scoop it up later and feed outside or in the stall. This way I can give dry hay sometimes just to mix things up a bit.

                                I don't always use the hay net technique. Its not that hard to tip the muck bucket over and drain the water. If you do it slow you won't have all the hay fall out onto the floor. Be careful about draining in your washrack. If it just runs off to the ground without a pipe you won't have any problems. I have an underground pipe and mine has gotten clogged up with hay. Maybe an extra screen would be good.

                                I never string wet hay up in a net. The nets make me nervous. I did it once and then took it down after an hour of being a worry wart about my horse getting tangled up in it.

                                I've seen some photos where people hung up a pulley above the washrack so they could more easily pull the hay out.

                                I generally don't have a problem soaking and lifting the hay but I have two different back injuries that flair up at times and depending on what hurts, if anything, I may use one soaking/lifting strategy over another.

                                I think I read that there isn't a worry regarding soaking hay for a long time during cool weather but during warm weather it can ferment or something. Don't hold me to that. I need to look it up myself since we are starting to get warm here and I only had to start the soaking business this winter so I'm not experienced with the summer soaking specifics.
                                Altamont Sport Horses
                                Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
                                Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
                                Birmingham, AL


                                • #17
                                  i HATE soaking hay. HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT. I'd be different if I had the horses at home or even lived close enough to make it to the barn more than one a day but omg it wastes so much time for me. My pony is worth it, though

                                  I section the hay by weight into "meals" and tie each section with a piece of twine, so it's basically like a mini 1 serving size bale. I then place the sections into rubbermaid containers, top with cement blocks to hold the hay down, then fill completely with water and soak for one hour. When finished I pull the hay out by the twine (much easier for me than using a hay net) and dump the tub, then put hay back into the tub to carry into the barn. I feed one tub right then and my pony LOVES the soaking wet hay. I think she thinks that she is getting a lot more when it's wet - even though she is quite a bit of hay to begin with. She spreads it all around her stall and and stands there eating it happy as an be. I do the same thing with the other tub except instead of feeding it I leave it outside the pony's stall for my friend to feed the next day.

                                  This works pretty well for me. The only downside (and it's a BIG one) is that I usually don't get to the barn at night until 9 or 10 so by the time I get done soaking hay I usually don't get home until 11 or 12. I haven't had a good nights sleep in weeks since I started soaking the hay....

                                  I've tried soaking the next days hay over night - only problem is that I normally can only go out once a day - and now that the weather is warming up there is NO way I am feeding hay that's been soaking for 24 hours.

                                  I also tried bring hay HOME to soak before I go to the barn at night. Seemed like a perfect idea until it took me any hour to clean the bathroom up afterwards! I can't do it outside because my apartment doesn't have a hose or even water outside.


                                  • #18
                                    Didn't read everyones so might have already been said. I use a plastic trash can. I could dump it on its side and drain water. Then pick it up and drain whatever water was left. Sometimes I would just put trash can in stall or take hay out and put in stall. Hay was too heavy when it was wet to do everyday.