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HAY: To Steam or Not To Steam

Horse World Connect Blog Posting, December 7, 2020 by Anna Sochocky, Equi-Libris

Dipping or soaking your horse's hay conjures visions of wasted water, contaminated liquid, and squandered effort.

A European study conducted in 2013 and 2014 explored the efficacy and medical benefits of steaming hay. The study by doctors Julie Dauvillier and Emmanuelle van Erck-Westergen examined four hundred and eighty-two horses. All horses were referred to the review because of poor performance or respiratory issues and were scoped.

"A horse can have a serious problem with their respiratory system without having obvious symptoms. The horse can have lower airway inflammation and not necessarily have a cough, nasal discharge, or heavy breathing," notes Van Erck-Westergren.

Inflammation in respiratory airways can be due to dust, allergens, bacteria, mold, or fungal spores present in a horse's forage. Particles settle in the windpipe or tissues, constricting free airflow between a horse's nose and lungs. The irritation can lead to respiratory diseases like IAD.

The study found that eighty-four percent of the horses suffered from inflammatory airway disease (IAD). Seventy-two percent of horses presented different types of fungi in the airways. According to researchers, steamed hay decreased the risk of IAD by sixty-three percent. The protocol eliminated aggravating allergens, dust, and other particles by ninety-eight percent.

The founders of the company, Haygain®, claim steaming hay removes airway irritants while preserving nutrients, ridding feed of bacteria. The patented Haygain® steamer incorporates a perforated spike system that distributes steam evenly from within a thermally insulated chest. The critical high temperature of upwards of one hundred degree Fahrenheit is maintained even in freezing conditions. Steamer sizes vary to accommodate one full hay bag to the largest one to hold a bale to feed four horses.

While the Haygain® steamer is widely recognized in Europe, traction and interest in the steaming approach soared at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron, North Carolina. Twenty-two, three-hundred-pound steamers to accommodate two hundred horses were shipped to Tyron in advance of the opening ceremonies. The number of products swelled to thirty-five or more by the end of the competition's first week. Steamer requests soared for both individual and team competitors as word spread.

This month, AAEP welcomes the Haygain® company to its conference and trade show. The science-backed horse health company will virtually participate in the event beginning Tuesday, December 1, with "prime time" presentations set for Dec. 5-9.

For more information on the AAEP Conference and Trade Show, visit For more information on Haygain, visit

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