Steamed hay has proven beneficial for horses with respiratory disease and dental issues. Better nutritionally than soaked or dry hay, steaming preserves beneficial microorganisms, but banishes bacteria and allergens, reports The Horse.
A study, funded by Haygain Ltd. and spearheaded by Dr. Simon Daniels from the Royal Agricultural University, has shown that steaming hay with near-boiling water preserves its “haybiome,” a new term that encompasses the diverse good and bad bacteria found in hay. A healthy haybiome includes a variety of bacterial species, but the beneficial bacteria outweigh the disease-causing bacteria.
Haygain had no role in the design, data collection, or analysis of the study.
Researchers genetically sequenced samples of four types of ryegrass and meadow hay. Samples were either soaked for 12 hours in water at 61 degrees Fahrenheit or steamed for one hour in a commercial steamer that reached 203 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes. The two other sequenced samples were left dry.
The scientists concluded that beneficial bacteria were present in the hay after both steaming and soaking, but the soaked hay didn’t have the abundance of bacteria the steamed hay had. Soaked and dry hay contained bacteria that could cause dental and respiratory disease.
Additionally, a blue-green algae that is toxic was found in the dry hay that was sampled. Steaming eliminated the toxin completely, but soaking simply transferred the toxin to the water.
Read more at The Horse.
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