The Effect of Steaming and Soaking on the Respirable Particle, Bacteria, Mould, and Nutrient Content in Hay for Horses

Meriel J.S. Moore-Colyer, Jessica L.E. Taylor, Rebecca James

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Forage is crucial for stabled horses, promoting gut health, supplying valuable nutrients, and maintaining normal feeding behaviors. Forage can contain high levels of respirable dust predisposing horses to respiratory disorders. This study examined the effect of different treatments on the airborne respirable particles (ARPs), microbial and nutrient content of hay for horses in three experiments. Experiment 1a eight bales of meadow hay were subjected to five treatments n = 40: dry (D), 10-minute soak in water (W), steamed in a wheelie bin (TWB), steamed in a Haygain (HG) 600, and steamed with a kettle of boiling water (K) on ARP content. Experiment 1b microbial contamination was measured in five bales of meadow hay after treatments D, TWB, and HG in cold conditions (0-7°C) (n = 15). Experiment 2 measured the nutrient content of 30 different hays after D and HG treatments, n = 60. Data in experiments 1a and 1b were analyzed using analysis of variance and least significant difference test: hay and treatment as factors. Experiment 2 was analyzed using paired t-test with significance levels accepted P < .05. Results showed steaming in the HG reduced ARP and microbial contamination by 99%. TWB or K reduced ARP in hay by 88%. W, TWB, or K did not reduce microbial contamination. HG treatment preserved mineral and protein contents but reduced water-soluble carbohydrate by 18.3%. Steaming using an HG steamer is a feasible long-term strategy for reducing ARP and microbial contamination, while conserving mineral and protein content in hay and is thus suitable for providing hygienically clean forage to stabled horses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-68
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Dust
  • Hay
  • Nutrient
  • Soaking
  • Steaming


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