Hi Iron levels in batch of 3rd cut hay

Michele Cameron

I just got some mixed grass hay tested and the ESC + Starch was under 10%, so I committed to buying 100 bales, but now ran the minerals too and the iron is higher
than any I have fed before.... I always soak at least 1 hour, usually 2 or 3 hours, and my morning 5#'s is soaked overnight... I usually hang the nets up to drain, but sometimes
I just feed them dripping. The nets get attached to a screw eye at ground level on a mat that slopes and drains the water away from the net while he eats if I feed it drippy, or I can put it inside
his stall if it has drained better. Occasionally, I have to feed a "snack" portion without soaking, but that is rare.  Should I just forget about this hay? 100 bales would be about 8 months for my Mustang,
or if I fed it to the other horses too, (unsoaked) it would only last about 3 months.... I can eat the cost of the test, if I have to.
As Sampled Dry Matter
 Digestible Energy (DE), Mcal/lb 1.04 1.13
                                         % g/lb. % g/lb.
Crude Protein                        10.2      46.3 
Estimated Lysine                   .36          1.6 .
Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF)   28.7      130.2 
Neutral Detergent Fiber (aNDF) 43.9 199.0 
WSC (Water Sol. Carbs.)     16.4         74.4 
ESC (Simple Sugars)             7.6         34.4 
Starch                                     1.4         6.2 
Non Fiber Carb. (NFC)            29.5    134.0
Calcium .                               .54         2.43 
Phosphorus                            .24        1.10 
Magnesium                           .30           1.35 
Potassium                            1.57           7.13 
Sodium                                  .226         1.027 
                              ppm mg/lb. ppm mg/lb.
Iron                            941             426 
Zinc                            20                 9 
Copper                         9                 4 
Manganese               111                51 
Molybdenum             .8                  .4  
Thanks ahead of time for your help.

Kirsten Rasmussen

Something about your hay analysis is off.   Your dry matter numbers are about 4x higher than your as sampled numbers, which can't be right, but your trace minerals are the opposite and as sampled is about 2x higher than dry matter.  Unless someone else here has an explanation for this.... (?), I would ask for a re-analysis.

I will only add that there is little, if any, benefit to soaking longer than 1 hour.  In fact, soaking too long can drive iron back into the hay.  I definitely would not soak a high iron hay overnight for that reason. 

I used to soak all my hay at once, for 1 hour (while I was exercising or grooming my horse) in pre-weighed hay net "meals", then feed one net and let the others sit and drain until they needed to be fed.  It's a lot less work than soaking 2-4x a day!  :)

Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
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Good catch, Kirsten. My guess is that this hay has high moisture content. A copy of the actual analysis would clear that up. 

A housekeeping detail. Michele, would you please go to your subscription page and add an automatic signature?
1) Go to this link to amend your auto-signature: 

2) Look at the bottom of that page for the window to type in your name, general location, and year of joining (2015), as well as a link to Elijah's case history folder. Here it is: 

Michele in Washington 2015 

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Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
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Eleanor Kellon, VMD

The first column is either % or ppm and the second is grams or mg per lb.
Eleanor in PA 
EC Owner 2001


Hi Michele, I can't give you an answer about keeping this hay, but I do know that after a certain amount of soaking time, I think an hour, iron will go back into the hay.  So it would be best to not soak longer than that with this hay.   Some or maybe a lot of the iron could be surface iron which can be shaken off or rinsed off, although I don't know if you can get rid of enough of it to make it safe.  You can do a couple of tests and just ask for iron on a sample of shaken out hay and a sample of rinsed hay that will need to be well dried before sending it in.
Laura K Chappie & Beau, over the bridge 
2011 N IL

Lavinia Fiscaletti

The iron levels are almost double the toxic level for iron. You can't soak iron out but shaking out the flakes and rinsing are options to lower the amount IF there is significant amounts of surface iron. You'd have a clue to this if there is a lot of dirt clods falling out as you shake a flake, piles of dirt on the ground or dust clouds (not mold) rising when you open/shake the hay. Manganese is also high. If the moisture content is high, you could be in added trouble with mold developing.

It's possible the iron came from a secondary "contamination" - type of probe used to take the sample, container the sample was placed in wasn't clean.

Remember that anything you do to the sample will need to be done to all the hay that is then fed.

Having dealt with really high iron hay in the past (but not this high), I'll say it's a royal pain to make it safe to feed. I'd be inclined to pass on it.

Lavinia, George Too, Calvin (PPID) and Dinky (PPID/IR)
Nappi, George and Dante Over the Bridge
Jan 05, RI
Moderator ECIR


I wanted to see where you live but you do not have a signature created with your general location. No case history link either. This is not intended as a criticism or nagging but it is really important to provide the basic requirements if you want assistance.  I hope you will take the time to help us help you and get the basics into your signature.

About the high iron, if this hay (before it was cut and dried into hay) was in the field during a prolonged rain then the iron could very possibly be due to wet soil being splashed onto the surface of the grass. Because 2nd and 3rd cutting are "thinner" cuttings in general the potential for soil splatter is increased. Jusyt my opinion and experience.

Bonnie Snodgrass 07-2016

ECIR Group Primary Response 

White Cloud, Michigan, USA

Mouse Case History, Photo Album


Forgot to add that you could put 1-2 flakes of hay into a hay net then vigorously plunge the hay net up and down in a large tub of cold water. Take a sample of that hay and spread it out to dry then send a sample out for an iron test. See if the iron level is reduced. If you resort to this method to reduce the iron levels do NOT reuse the same rinse water.
Bonnie Snodgrass 07-2016

ECIR Group Primary Response 

White Cloud, Michigan, USA

Mouse Case History, Photo Album

Lorna in Ontario

Hi Michele,

You have received good answers to your questions.

Just wanted to add that I found the link to your case history. Updated, yes!!

You can create an automatic signature(yay) by going to Subscription,and adding your location,date of joining,and link to case history, and photo album, to the Signature box.
Remember to hit Save. 
You'll never have to think about signing your messages again.

Lorna  in Eastern  Ontario


Kirsten Rasmussen

Michele, I've sent you an email with the instructions for completing your ECIR Signature, basically the official version of Lorna's post above.   Please take the time to do this, it helps us out a lot.

Thank you! 

Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
Shaku's Case History  
Shaku's Photo Album