Most horses would say “neigh” to jazz great Ella Fitzgerald’s famous lyric about summer: “Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” For our equine friends, summer is just plain hot, with a host of heat-related health concerns through June, July and August, plus autumn weather that sizzles through Halloween in many parts of the United States.
According to Dr David Marlin (2018), Professor in Physiology at Oklahoma State University and with over 30 years equine consultancy experience for top riders, dehydration can negatively affect both health and performance, including a worsening of respiratory diseases such as IAD, thickening of mucus and poorer/slower clearance from the airways, and, during transportation, an increased risk of "shipping fever" (pneumonia).
For many horses and owners the best solution is to keep horses inside during the hottest parts of the day, which means they need to be fed on hay. However hot and humid conditions can also lead to increases in mold growth, which if eaten can lead to liver damage, increased risk of colic and if inhaled can cause or worsen equine asthma.
According to Dr Marlin steaming hay not only kills the mold spores, but is also a good way to increase water content and offset dehydration. Studies by Earing et al (2013) found that steaming hay increased the water content by 3 times, from 8% to 23%.
This is especially important for the digestive system, where steady water intake reduces the risk of impaction colic, facilitates the absorption of nutrients and keeps everything moving through the system as nature intended.
Another consequence of heat and humidity for horses is anhidrosis – impaired ability to sweat. This condition seriously compromises performance and the ability to exercise and often sends horses to cooler indoor stabling, again to be fed on hay and the above mentioned increased risk of inhaling respirable particles.
Steaming hay reduces respiratory particles by 98 percent, and viable bacteria by 99 percent. It smells and tastes good too, a big plus for horses whose appetites are suppressed by the hot weather. Equally important, steaming does not strip hay of its nutrients.
Soaking hay is one method used to increase water intake and to reduce the dust and particle content, but soaking raises the bacterial content of the hay. Just a 10-minute soak has been proven to increase bacteria content by 150 percent. If it’s necessary to soak hay, a post-soak steam is the healthiest routine.
As a science-driven horse health company, we want this sizzling season to be one in which “the livin’ is easy” as well as healthy for all horses. So for this week only we are offering an amazing 10% of all Haygain hay steamers. So grab this deal while it’s hot! Offer ends 29th June. Simply go to haygain.us, add your steamer to the cart and follow the pages.