Sunday, August 24, 2014

Feeding Hay to Horses: Dry, Dampened, Soaked, or Steamed? - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 16, 2014

Are you confused about how to feed hay to your horses? If so, you’re not alone. Feeding hay used to be as simple as opening the stall door and tossing in a couple of flakes, but now there are other ways to provide this dietary staple.

Feeding dry hay. This choice is fine for most horses. Feeding hay from the ground, whether in a stall or in the pasture, allows the horse to carry its head and neck in the most natural way while feeding. Owners can also use a haynet to keep hay off the floor, or a slow-feed web or bin to stretch out the time hay is available. These options are all useful when feeding dry hay.

Feeding dampened hay. Dipping the flakes or full haynet into a large container of water and pulling it right out will dampen the hay enough to get rid of some dust and fine particles. This could be done for any horse, but is most helpful for hay that will be fed to horses riding in a trailer or for horses with mild heaves or airway irritation. Quickly dipping the hay won’t remove carbohydrates or minerals, so the nutrient profile will not change. The only change is that there won’t be as much dust floating around to irritate eyes and respiratory passages as the horse eats. On a warm day, dampened hay that is not eaten within a few hours may begin to mold. Feed small amounts at a time and remove damp hay that has not been consumed to avoid this problem...

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