Re: New to soaking hay - questions


On Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 09:18 PM, Hilary McGregor wrote:

  1. Should we test the soaked hay? How in the heck does one do that? I mean, how do we get a representative sample, soaked in the usual method, and dried before sending? Any tips?
  2. Does soaking hay reduce ESC? 
  3. Is there an average % of DE that is reduced by soaking hay?
  4. We are soaking 10 lbs of hay in about 170 litres of cold water for 1 hour. Is that enough to make an impact? 
  5. Are there any risks of soaking hay in softened water? 
You can read about hay soaking in Files and in the initial welcome letter you received that said, "There is a lot of helpful information in the start here folder so it is important you read all the documents found there. The emergency diet involves soaking your untested hay for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water. This removes up to 30% of the sugar content..." Here's an example from the Files:

1. Yes, for the best diet control and mineral balancing, you should test the soaked hay using wet chemistry and get an analysis that includes trace minerals like the 603 from Equi-Analytical. If you store a good sized load for the year and will be soaking long term, it's an investment in a balanced diet. I take pull samples from as many bales as I can reach up to the usual weight of your hay nets, say 4 pounds. Soak in the net. It won't be a perfect sample but it better than nothing and better than a single bale. Remember your method-- how you time the soaking, water temperature, volume of hay, volume of water-- so you can repeat it. After the chosen soak time, drip dry the hay in the net. I transfer to a mesh laundry bag to dry the hay thoroughly in a well-ventilated location that isn't dusty. You may have to stir the hay in the net a few times over three or four days to get it all dry. 

2. Yes, soaking hay reduces ESC and not starch. How much depends on water quality and chemistry, water temperature, and duration of soaking. Soaking often removes 30% of the ESC.

3. No, because different grasses, different initial hay profiles, and different water soaking conditions introduce too many variables. However, the reduction in DE is less than you'd think because horses exact a larger portion of their calories from fermentation than from ESC itself. 

4. Yes, an hour cold soak can have a very large impact, especially using softened, conditioned water. Most of us use only enough water that will allow the net to be completely covered. If your water softener removes most of the minerals from the water, you may find that an hour soak is too long. The purer the water, the faster ESC will drop. In my water purified by reverse osmosis and pH balanced using calcite, a 6 minute cold water soak is usually more than enough for my hay to reduce ESC down to 5% or less. We don't aim to removed all ESC, only to reduce it to a range appropriate for our individual horses' needs.

5. One known risk in soaking hay is that iron content can be increased.  I don't see a current mineral analysis showing trace minerals in your hay. If your hay often has high iron, then shake out the flakes before placing in bags and soaking. 

Trial and error has been my best teacher in hay soaking.
Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
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