Posted by Annabelleh on
September 18, 2001
Just how long should you soak hay for?
I seem to remember some saying 24hours - others less.
Currently I am putting the hay in to soak am for pm use.
Is there actually any 'scientific' evidence of the
If the hay was of good quality I wouldn't normally
bother soaking as none of mine have any respiratory
problems (thank the Lord) but this year's crop is so
awful I feel I have to.
There also seems to be a lot of prickles in the hay -
they hurt ME when I pick it up - does this do the horse
any harm? Also, I've quite often found big plant-like
elements in the hay - I am worried it might be Ragwort -
how would I be able to tell for sure? I read on Janet's
very useful "poisonous plants" section that
Ragwort is still dangerous even when dead (such as in
the hay). I try to pull as much of it out as possible
but they have a lot of hay and it's sending me a bit
Posted by Cob Nut
I don't want
to worry you, Annabelle, but ragwort is actually far
MORE dangerous when it is in the hay, because it loses
much of its bitter taste, so the horses are more likely
to eat it. (We took over field which was overrun with
ragwort a couple of years ago, and when we THOUGHT we'd
uprooted every last plant we let the horses in. They
grazed the grass, and carefully left the remaining
ragwort plants - of which there were many - standing!)
Interestingly, there was a thread in another place on
ragwort, where somebody (can't remember who) said that
their horses had carefully left the ragwort in their hay
as well, so it obviously retains some of its bitterness.
But I'd counsel caution all the same: if in any doubt
about anything in the hay, remove it or don't feed at
Posted by Katanna
I seem to recall that hay should not be soaked for more
than an hour as after this time the hay starts to lose
its nutritional value. I think the suggested time is 10
minutes?!? My horse has his hay soaked but I just run a
hose after it for a few minutes.
20mins and 1 hour. Less than 20 mins and the hay
spores aren't soaked enough to stop them causing a
problem, more than an hour and the hay starts to lose
that the tall plants are just docks or thistles - far
from ideal but not dangerous. However you REALLY need to
confirm that it isn't ragwort, collect samples of the
plants and examine them closely - use a good plant book
and you should be able to ascertain whether or not it is
Ragwort. If still in doubt show someone who does know!
Soaking, again 20 mins to 1 hour, and do be careful
where you tip the effluent, it is a pollutant.
sticks the spores to the stalks so that they cannot be
inhaled by the horse.
1 -2 hours of soaking swells the spores so that they
cannot be inhaled by the horse.
24 hours is certainly too long to soak hay for as the
nutritonal value is greatly reduced.
We find half
an hour is fine.
That also means that there is time to soak and to hang
the net up to drain before feedtime so avoiding soaked
If you have a kettle available, another good way is to
put haynet in a bin and pour on a kettle of boiling
The steam swells up the fungal spores even quicker, and
less waste water to dispose off
If you are
soaking the hay because it is of poor quality then you'd
really be better to not feed that hay. I don't really
believe that soaking hay can change it from being 'bad
to being 'good'.
Assuming that it is not hay you cut yourself, so wont be
losing money that way, and that you have not bought
loads, as obviously you would have checked it, seen that
it was of poor quality and not bought it, I would get
some different hay.
If there is no good quality hay available in your area,
as I know is the case in many areas, try horsehage,
It seems that the only way to get good quality hay this
year is to pay a fortune for it. you say your horses do
not currently have respiratory problems. Surely feeding
this hay will damage their respiration?
It's worth paying for it to ensure your horse is happy
You can also change the balance between forage and
concentrates maybe. Up the hard feed, increase the exercise and cut down on the hay and time stabled.
I agree with your comments wholeheartedly and I've come
to the conclusion that not only am I going to feed them
Haylage but I'm also going to change to shavings. This
is due to the fact that we are somewhat held to ransom
by our livery yard to buy their hay and straw which is
really bad quality. This situation is really another
topic in itself and has me somewhat irate as you
I actually DID find a definite sprig of ragwort last
night and spent ages sifting through all their hay last
night (I have 3 horses) as I was so paranoid.
They will have haylage from tonight onwards and shavings
from the weekend.
105 | Joined July 2001 | Posted on: 1:27
pm on Sep. 19, 2001 | IP
When you say that hay needs soaking for 1/2 an hour does
this mean it needs to be dunked underwater for this
period or is it ok to dunk it for 10 mins and leave it
to drain for 20 mins (as I do currently) as I figured
that this would give the spores time to expand even
though it wasn't submerged ?
someone is selling hay with ragwort in it then it is
definitely NOT OF MERCHANTABLE QUALITY or FIT FOR
PURPOSE and can be returned - and SHOULD be returned.
This stuff kills. Why is the livery yard selling it -
have you told ALL the other liveries that the hay is
dangerous? - as long as you're 100% sure it IS ragwort
Posted by Von
I soak my
hay for 20-30 mins, soaked underwater for that length of
time. My gelding has COPD & this alongside shavings
for bedding keeps it under control.
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