Topics

New to soaking hay - questions


Hilary McGregor
 

I've started soaking our hay because test results indicate it's in the 9-11% range for ESC + starch. Our gelding's blood test results after a week on the hay indicated compensated IR. It's the first time we've tested him, and Amika, his sister came back not IR! I've posted other threads on this.

As it seems we will be soaking for the long term with this hay, I have some questions and curiosities about soaking...

  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? 
Many thanks for any insights as I work my way through this!

--
Hilary and Amika
Prince George, BC, Canada
Joined July 2019
Amika's Case History Folder
Amika's Photos Folder


 

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: https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/files/5%20Core%20Diet/1.%20Hay%20Information/Hay%20Soaking/Soakreport.pdf

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
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse and Diamond Case History Folder                
Cayuse Photos                Diamond Photos 


Hilary McGregor
 

Hello Cass

Thank you so much for this reply! I have done a lot of reading and researching on soaking hay, including looking up the average reductions of different minerals. Thank you for pointing me to the information in the welcome letter. I am familiar with this content, but may have missed something, or have a new perspective now and so learn something new from it.

My current hay analysis is here. Iron is 132 ppm as sampled. However we are currently soaking in untested well water so I wondered if it might be increasing iron, but trying to put my mind at ease about for the moment because it's the water they currently drink. Moving into a new home mid-November where we can set up soaking in the utility bathroom and use softened water. Very interesting to hear that the quality of water makes such a big difference to the amount of ESC reduced!

The link you shared (Files: https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/files/5%20Core%20Diet/1.%20Hay%20Information/Hay%20Soaking/Soakreport.pdf) indicates averages of 30% reduction in "sugars", which includes WSC. I assume since WSC means water soluble, this would be the largest portion of reduced sugar, not ESC. I have not found anywhere yet the amount of ESC compared to WSC that is reduced with soaking. Is that available anywhere? 


Thank you for the information on how to prepare a sample to soak and subsequently test! We will get on that as soon as we have a stable system set up for soaking.

This group and the wealth of information, experience, and generosity in sharing is so amazing. I hugely appreciate it!

--
Hilary and Amika
Prince George, BC, Canada
Joined July 2019
Amika's Case History Folder
Amika's Photos Folder


 

On Thu, Oct 29, 2020 at 09:05 AM, Hilary McGregor wrote:
I have not found anywhere yet the amount of ESC compared to WSC that is reduced with soaking. Is that available anywhere? 
Not that I'm aware of and for good reason. Too many variables. That's why I find many hay soaking studies unhelpful. If you're soaking in raw well water, you may need the full 30 minutes if it's full of minerals and very hard. Trial and error, your water, your hay, is the best way to know. And you have another variable in this hay analysis, because it is NIR and not wet chemistry. I had one discrepancy in ESC by NIR that was 3.9% lower than the wet chemistry - that's the worst case because you don't know your true starting point.
 
--
Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse and Diamond Case History Folder                
Cayuse Photos                Diamond Photos 


Starshine Ranch
 
Edited

Great article on soaking hay... http://equine.ca.uky.edu/news-story/soak-or-not-soak-hay
--
Linda  CA  in 2020


 

Linda, as this is your first post, I posted a welcome to you with lots of information here.
--
Martha in Vermont
ECIR Group Primary Response
July 2012 
 
Logo (dec. 7/20/19), Tobit(EC) and Pumpkin, Handy and Silver (EC/IR)

Martha and Logo


 
 


Hilary McGregor
 

Hi Cass

Here's my understanding of the literature, including from ECIR group and the article you linked to: on average, soaking hay in cold water for 1 hour reduces "sugars"/NSC (including both ESC and WSC) by 30%. The majority that will be reduction of WSC because it is water soluble.  You originally posted that ESC is reduced by 30% by soaking. I don't think that's the case, though I wish it were. 

By the way, the hay test results I posted is wet chem, not NIR. I am aware that NIR is less accurate and has an average error rate of +/- 2%. That's pretty awful to have 3.9% variation! 

--
Hilary and Amika
Prince George, BC, Canada
Joined July 2019
Amika's Case History Folder
Amika's Photos Folder


 

Hilary, keep in mind that the WSC is comprised of ESC plus fructans.   Both ESC and fructans are soluble in water.  If 30% of the WSC is removed by soaking in water, then 30% of the ESC should also be removed, as well as 30% of the fructans.
--
Martha in Vermont
ECIR Group Primary Response
July 2012 
 
Logo (dec. 7/20/19), Tobit(EC) and Pumpkin, Handy and Silver (EC/IR)

Martha and Logo


 
 


 

On Thu, Oct 29, 2020 at 03:15 PM, Hilary McGregor wrote:
You originally posted that ESC is reduced by 30% by soaking. I don't think that's the case, though I wish it were. 

I'm not sure why you say that. It is the case here, where I've seen reductions up to 70% of ESC using warm water and soaking for 30 or more minutes. Bear in mind that the foundation for ECIR soaking recommendation is a new member with a horse in a laminitic crisis. She can't wait 8 or 10 business days for test results. She needs to feed safe forage to remove a potential dietary trigger tonight. 

For your purposes, there is no substitute for an actual soaked hay sample. If you have a target ESC, members may be able to suggest soaking times from their experience soaking hay in well water. 

Thanks for the clarification that your hay test was run using wet chemistry, btw. You're in a good position to see the effect of soaking. We unfortunately need to run a full wet chemistry analysis to receive the DE calculation. 
 
--
Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse and Diamond Case History Folder                
Cayuse Photos                Diamond Photos 


Hilary McGregor
 

Thank you all!! I completely forgot that WSC includes ESC! I think my mind is a bit boggled and struggling to figure it all out. I'm still curious if ESC would be reduced at the same rate as fructans by soaking. Grateful for your extensive experience of testing soaked hay, Cass. We plan to do some testing of soaked hay so we know what we are working with and will share the results. It may take us a bit of time to get it, but it's in the plans.

Thank you again for helping me work through the logistics of all this! This group is invaluable :)

--
Hilary and Amika
Prince George, BC, Canada
Joined July 2019
Amika's Case History Folder
Amika's Photos Folder


Kirsten Rasmussen
 

It's reasonable to assume that subtracting ESC from WSC gives you an approximation of fructan content.  Testing before and after soaking of the SAME samples should give you an idea of how much ESC and if you like a little math also how much fructans soaked out.  We are not worried about fructan content in hays though, it's unlikely to ever be high enough to cause problems.

I wanted to see the effect of soaking on my hay and just got results back for 2 analyses each of 2 samples from the same part of the same bale: on sample unsoaked and 1 soaked and dried.  There is quite a bit of variation within the 2 analyses for the unsoaked hay, and within the 2 analyses for the soaked hay.  Not sure what to make of this variation yet.
https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/message/257127

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