Laminitis, Insulin Resistance and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) are all very common conditions. Feeding horses with any metabolic issue can be tricky, and it often takes a lot of trial and error to find the right ration for your horse. When a horse is on restricted pasture intake, it is important to supplement their diet with enough roughage to meet their minimum daily roughage intake (1% of horses BW). Soaking hay is often used to deliver a safe roughage source to horses & ponies with metabolic issues.
Soaking hay is a technique used reduce the water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) found in the hay. During the soaking process, the carbohydrates leach from the hay reducing the sugar content.
Soaked Lucerne hay is often recommended for horse with metabolic issues because it has less soluble sugars than rye grass, mixed grasses, and cereal hays.
Here are some handy tips for soaking hay for horses:
- Use a large tub that can hold approximately double the volume of hay or for a large biscuit of Lucerne about 30 litres, a plastic rubbish bin works well.
- For ease of handling put the hay in a slow feeder hay net before soaking this makes it easier to remove and feed out later.
- Soak the hay for 30-60 minutes in warm or lukewarm water, the sugars are removed from the hay quicker in warm water
- Try not to soak for more than 1 hour, longer than this increases the chance of microbial growth in the hay and can reduce other nutrients.
- Take the hay out and allow to drain freely, well off the ground, let it dry for about 15 minutes before feeding to your horse.
- If you are worried about loss of nutrients you can add a vitamin and mineral supplement to your horses feed, such as Ranvet’s Ration Balancer.
- Remember the wastewater is full of sugars so dispose of it appropriately and do not feed it to your horse.
Written by Selena Phillis