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TOPIC: New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay

New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 05 Aug 2009 14:17 #1

  • ThomasRideandDrive
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New research by the Waltham-initiated Laminitis Consortium has raised questions over the assumption that soaking hay makes it safe to feed to laminitis prone horses and ponies.

The Laminitis Consortium comprises world leading equine veterinary nutrition and research experts.

Previous studies have shown prolonged soaking of chopped hay in large volumes of water can result in leaching of nutrients, including water soluble carbohydrates (WSC).

The results of the new studies show highly variable leaching and substationally less than previously reported for chopped hay soaked for 30 minutes.

Seems that in this latest study very few samples reached below 10% WSC despite prolonged soaking.

The concern is this strongly suggests that soaking may well not be sufficient to render some hays safe to feed to horses and ponies prone to laminitis.

So advice is to analyse hay before feeding to high risk equids and to chose hay with lowest WSC content you can find.

Soaking provides additional safeguard but should not be relied on.
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 10 Aug 2009 00:52 #2

  • Katy Watts
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Abstract is at JEV 29(5) page 383. I saw it presented at Eq Sci Soc this May. They say nearly everyone soaks hay in the UK to prevent inhalation of mold spores. It’s a real moldy place. Only necessary to wet hay down, so when you say ‘soaked hay’ that’s what they mean, that’s what you get. So they did the study under ‘usual practices’ which of course is not enough water to create a diffusion gradient necessary to pull sugar out. Some of the hays had 22-23% dm WSC. Many were ryegrass and timothy that have long chain fructan and would be less soluble than other species used in the US. I have no idea why they didn’t just say ‘use more water’. They also said that it’s often difficult to get enough water in remote barns, and then said that disposing of the water “which is essentially sewage” is difficult too. Appears they don’t like the concept at all. Said it’s better for find appropriate hay that doesn’t need soaking or “develop alternative practical methodologies that are more effective”. This teams research is funded by a feed company that sells bagged feed and forage. That might have something to do with their defeatist attitude. I hated soaking too, but some people would rather soak PROPERLY with lots of water than keep testing hay. I also found some hays in my study that were not salvageable with soaking, even with a lot of water. Some just too high to begin with.
I thought the bottom line was more about ‘stuff they do in the UK might not apply here in the US’.
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 11 Aug 2009 06:42 #3

  • ThomasRideandDrive
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Katy, I'm surprised that you seem to be virtually dismissing any relevence to this study.

Interesting but none of that seems even remotely right. When you say "They" say..... who is "They". I ask because it's just not right at all to say that nearly everyone soaks hay here. The only folks I know that do are those whose horses are laminitis or have respiratory disorder.

Out of everyone I personally know, no one is routinely soaking hay. The advice to soak is freely given and available here for those that need to for the reasons I've stated and it's 30 minutes. The study specifically did over a range of times

Mouldy hay is bad hay. Here folks are told that and told not to feed mouldy hay to stock.

Katy Watts wrote:
Abstract is at JEV 29(5) page 383. I saw it presented at Eq Sci Soc this May. They say nearly everyone soaks hay in the UK to prevent inhalation of mold spores.
It’s a real moldy place.
?!? Don't think so!
Only necessary to wet hay down, so when you say ‘soaked hay’ that’s what they mean, that’s what you get So they did the study under ‘usual practices’ .
I took the study to have soaked for normal conditions i.e. 20 to 30 minutes.
They also said that it’s often difficult to get enough water in remote barns, and then said that disposing of the water “which is essentially sewage” is difficult too.
That is stark staring bonkers!!! There aren't remote barns without water on this tiny little island. Every single place here.... house or farm has water. You aren't allowed even a cattle stock or sheep field unless you have water. Heck it rains all the time! Water is pretty much a commodity we have too much of in winter when hay is used. Disposal of water is easy. It's not waste.

Precisely what did "they" say???
Appears they don’t like the concept at all. Said it’s better for find appropriate hay that doesn’t need soaking or “develop alternative practical methodologies that are more effective”.
Again not what I read. They said it couldn't be relied on. Not that they didn't like it!
This teams research is funded by a feed company that sells bagged feed and forage. That might have something to do with their defeatist attitude.
It's peer group reviewed research.
I hated soaking too, but some people would rather soak PROPERLY with lots of water than keep testing hay. I also found some hays in my study that were not salvageable with soaking, even with a lot of water. Some just too high to begin with.
That's the same conclusion they came to.
I thought the bottom line was more about ‘stuff they do in the UK might not apply here in the US’.
Our hay grasses do indeed tend to be different to yours. Well not always.... but often but I don't think there's any base in fact for the other things mentioned at all. Neither did I read any of that in the study.
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 11 Aug 2009 19:00 #4

  • mwmyersdvm
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I think we have some miscommunication. Thomas' conclusion is a valid one in that soaking alone should not be relied upon for protection for WSC reduction especially in hays that are high in WSC and as Katy points out those high in fructans. In essence you are both correct.

The soaking of hay can tend to lull some folks into a false sense of security (and justification of the following scenario) as they will buy inexpensive hay, not test it, soak it (and likely not correctly) and then feed it to a laminitic horse. This scenario would not surprise me in the least and I would be called out to treat a bout of laminitis with the owner telling me they were "doing everything right and she still foundered".

M. W. Myers, D.V.M.
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 11 Aug 2009 19:37 #5

  • Katy Watts
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Thomas_Ride&Drive wrote:
When you say "They" say..... who is "They".
A C Longland*1, C Barfoot2, and P A Harris3, 1Equine and Livestock Nutrition Services,Tregaron, Ceredigion, Wales, UK, 2Mars Horse Care UK Ltd, Old Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, UK, 3WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Leicestershire, UK.

Following direct quotes from the JEVS abstract:

A small pilot survey revealed that in practice, at least in parts of the UK, long stemmed hay is often soaked in just enough water to submerge it completely, (equivalent to a hay to water ration of 1:10- 1:15 W/V, for either 20-40 minutes, 2-4 hours or overnight. ......the current study aimed to mirror current common practice in hay soaking by UK horse owners. ....Then they did math to say how much sugar and nitrogen compounds came out of the highest sugar hay, and said "This may lead to environmental issues relating to the disposal of such liquor."

During Pat Harris' presentation, she said people had difficulty getting water to some barns, or paying for metered water on city taps.

Other people from UK have told me that most hay is brownish in color there, often musty. Why you often do baleage or silage there.

Thomas_Ride&Drive wrote:
It's peer group reviewed research.
Yet, 'in-house' research done by commercial companies has a different level of credibility than that conducted by independent contract or university researchers.

I agree, and always said that soaking hay was an emergency measure, and never intended it to be done for years, as apparently people practice. But I was dismayed that they seemed to be so negative about the whole concept. From my emails and comments at clinics, horse owners and vets both say that soaking hay is frequently a life saver. It really shows people how much just getting the sugar out of the diet can really help. THEN hopefully they will realize that testing hay is worthwhile.
Katy
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 11 Aug 2009 20:20 #6

  • ThomasRideandDrive
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Katy Watts wrote:
A small pilot survey revealed that in practice, at least in parts of the UK, long stemmed hay is often soaked in just enough water to submerge it completely, (equivalent to a hay to water ration of 1:10- 1:15 W/V, for either 20-40 minutes, 2-4 hours or overnight. ......the current study aimed to mirror current common practice in hay soaking by UK horse owners. ....
Saying what is highlighted in red doesn't mean its "usual practice" or that "everyone soaks hay in the UK to prevent inhalation of mold spores. It’s a real moldy place" which is what you said in your first posting.
Then they did math to say how much sugar and nitrogen compounds came out of the highest sugar hay, and said "This may lead to environmental issues relating to the disposal of such liquor."
Again "may" doesn't mean what you said in your first posting and for sure that isn't the same as saying "disposing of the water “which is essentially sewage” is difficult too"

No way is water disposal treated as sewage in the UK.
During Pat Harris' presentation, she said people had difficulty getting water to some barns, or paying for metered water on city taps.
That's total poppycock. Less than 20% of total mains water supply in the UK is metered and predominently this is in city domestic establishments. I actually live in the only part of the country where there's a relatively high number of premises that are on private supply. That only totals 2,000 premises. So again I'm thinking the comment must have been misunderstood or taken out of context because for sure it would and should be challenged and for certain it's not what I understood to have been taken by the researchers.
Other people from UK have told me that most hay is brownish in color there, often musty. Why you often do baleage or silage there.
Sileage is never fed to horses in the UK. Haylage often is and because hay is at a premium. Not because it's poor quality at all. The rainy weather and the fact that we have a season that only allows for one cut of hay means that it's a limited resource and very expensive. But there's nothing wrong with the quality. Though of course, same here as there, some folks might be buying stuff that hasn't been properly stored.
I agree, and always said that soaking hay was an emergency measure, and never intended it to be done for years, as apparently people practice. But I was dismayed that they seemed to be so negative about the whole concept.
I'd say factual and realistic.
From my emails and comments at clinics, horse owners and vets both say that soaking hay is frequently a life saver.
That's definitely over egging the pudding. Though of course reducing sugar from a laminitic horse's diet is ALWAYS going to lead to an improvement.
THEN hopefully they will realize that testing hay is worthwhile.
You might be interested to know that here the majority of hay is tested. Some owners often aren't interested in that though and ordinarily stuff their horses full of high sugar content grass and hay AND grain AND manufactured feed stuffs none the less and until they come across an acute problem such as laminitis.

Then they get the wake up call and have to go into emergency contingency measures and start doing what they should have done all along.
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 11 Aug 2009 20:28 #7

  • ThomasRideandDrive
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mwmyersdvm wrote:
I think we have some miscommunication. Thomas' conclusion is a valid one in that soaking alone should not be relied upon for protection for WSC reduction especially in hays that are high in WSC and as Katy points out those high in fructans. In essence you are both correct.

The soaking of hay can tend to lull some folks into a false sense of security (and justification of the following scenario) as they will buy inexpensive hay, not test it, soak it (and likely not correctly) and then feed it to a laminitic horse. This scenario would not surprise me in the least and I would be called out to treat a bout of laminitis with the owner telling me they were "doing everything right and she still foundered".

M. W. Myers, D.V.M.
Actually this wasn't my conclusion, it was the the conclusion of the Research group.

Though it is in accord with what was my common sense..

Truth is that in nature horses are flight and fright roamers and trickle forage feeders. In nature they spend a lot of time and effort looking for meagre forage feed and they do indeed have period of famine when they run off. However not many of us want to keep our horses as they would be in the wild where they die by the age of 8 and often from starvation or cold during hard winter months.

Regrettably though IMO nowadays a lot of owners feel they need to use food as is the modern trend with people. So to compensate for lack of something else (time and attention). As a quick fix reward or training aid, motivator (hence too many fat kids, fat horses!). As a routine great big "meal" because its that time of the day. If they do get forwage only - and increasingly, that's rare... then they often get WAYYYYYY too much of it.

Hence in the human race we've an increase in obesity, diabetes etc and in horses a massive increase in laminitis, colic and metabollic disorders.... and all man made! So in domesticity too many horses suffer and die because of bad diet and particularly too much of everything and with great big "meals" and disporportionately too little forage matter.

The most important thing IMO is to ensure you stick to the principles of forage (low grade hay and grass) as the main dietary component.

Ensure diet is controlled so the horse is neither fat nor thin. (Feel ribs but not see them)

Remember that grass - even when it's meagre and low quality, is forage feed of high nutritional value to a horse

That you can get a horse VERY fit and in extremely good condition on just hay. On too much hay you can get it grossly obese etc etc

That its a horse and doesn't have a social calandar and expect "meals" of breakfast, dinner and tea.

That feed should always be proportionate to effort expended (exercise and keeping warm).
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 16 Dec 2009 10:35 #8

  • chris bunting
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none of my clients soak hay
chris
common sense is not needed when you have rules
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 16 Dec 2009 13:51 #9

All I know is, :confused:
when we had our pony I soaked the hay in lots of hot hot water, for 1/2 - 1 hour.

After a time when I was busy, I tend not to soak.
The pony got hefty . . . :eek:
started to soak again and the pony dropped the weight. :cool:

I would sometimes soak in cold/tap-temp water, but for an extended time, 2-5hrs.

This is all regardless of how green or brown, new or old, the hay was.

I also at the time contemplated, the quality of the meal being enjoyed by the pony.
I suppose horses really enjoy growing grass . . .
In comparison, hard brittle dry hay, would seam like us always eating beef jerky.
Personally I prefer a rare tenderloin, or awesome prime rib . . .
I would further think that a horse would prefer reconstituted/soaked hay . . .
. . . It might digest better as well ???

Oh, and the sewage of the water,
I always poured out down a grassy hill in our yard, in the same spot.
The growing grass never soured,
and we never had a smelly area over there,
the ground seemed to do its job.

These conclusions are drawn from my personal independent study over a 2 year period. :D
Bradley SaintJohn

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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 16 Dec 2009 15:15 #10

I hope you don't mind me stepping over parts of the debate.

As far as soaking to reduce sugar levels is concerned I was under the impression you need to soak at least overnite. Not a couple of hours, but 24 if you can.

Soaking is not the same as moisturizing, right?

So lets get to the point here, what am I to tell the owner of an IR horse that wants to soak the hay???



Ronald Aalders
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 16 Dec 2009 17:55 #11

Hello everyone I am new here. This is a great subject for a thread with some thought provoking responses. I agree with Thomas that in the UK (just like here in Florida) great care is taken to avoid moldy horse feeds. Like Florida it is not neccessarily a moldy place per se but if hay is stored improperly conditions to grow mold are possible. I would think if soaking hay is found scientifically repeatably to be negligable in its ability to remove carbs then maybe someone should see how much effect or what effect hay soaking has on mold. Has anyone heard of certain toxins made by mold(s) that cause horses to be prone to blood clots? Sometimes maybe if clots occur in the most distal part of the limbs they contribute to overall inflammation in that area? I know there is scientific research on this but have any of the farriers here actually seen this diagnosed in practice "real" clinical cases? I know drying hay has proven to decrease mold. It seems soaking hay would not decrease mold but just remove the airbourne mold components yet the mold toxins (aflatoxin, ergot alkaloids, fumonisins, zearalenone) are still there.
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 17 Dec 2009 00:27 #12

  • Katy Watts
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Ronald Aalders wrote:

So lets get to the point here, what am I to tell the owner of an IR horse that wants to soak the hay???

tell them to soak for at least 2-3 hours in a LOT of water. You need to create a strong diffusion gradient, so the more water, the more sugar you get out. Fluff it up before soaking and put a block on top to keep it under the water. Hot water is better than cold water. I don't know if time or ratio of hay to water is more important, but I my gut says the amount of water is really important.
Katy
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 17 Dec 2009 02:55 #13

  • lonestar
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So how much water is "enough" water ? PLEASE dont say "it depends".
Chris Schaeffner
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 17 Dec 2009 03:01 #14

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My money says enough to completely submerge the flake?
"As I see it, winners get the money - while losers talk of "individual goals" and similar stuff." Tom Stovall
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RE:New Study Questions Safety of Soaked Hay 17 Dec 2009 06:35 #15

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Katy Watts wrote:
tell them to soak for at least 2-3 hours in a LOT of water. You need to create a strong diffusion gradient, so the more water, the more sugar you get out. Fluff it up before soaking and put a block on top to keep it under the water. Hot water is better than cold water. I don't know if time or ratio of hay to water is more important, but I my gut says the amount of water is really important.
Katy
katy does it mater what hay grass type it is your soaking? & does the water taste sweet after you have soaked the hay in it?as some one who has distilled his own home brew from time to time as a hobby, from all sorts of fruits & grains, I'm waiting in anticipation of your answers.
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