Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: How can I eliminate the mold that’s showing up in a few of my bales of hay?

By Frank Reilly, DVM

A: To eliminate the mold that is commonly found in hay bales, try “flash soaking.” This means tearing pieces of hay off of the bale, placing them in a hay net and then putting the net under a heavy rock in a bucket of water for 10 minutes. Studies have shown this reduces the organic dust count.

It is not enough to just spray the hay with water from a hose or dunk it quickly in a tank instead of soaking it.

Flash soaking can be helpful for older horses that can’t chew as well because their teeth are starting to go.

The hay should not soak overnight, which is an outdated practice once thought to help horses with insulin resistance by decreasing the amount of sugar in the feed. Several studies have shown overnight soaking increases the bacteria count in hay. This leads to a syrupy mucus in the horse’s throat, and you don’t want to add more bacteria in front of his face so he’s inhaling it.

Commercial hay steamers can also effectively reduce harmful bacteria and can be especially useful in locations where cold temperatures could make flash-soaked hay too icy for feed. However, a commercially available steamer can cost $2,000, a prohibitive price for many.

Instead, a friend bought a drywall steamer at Home Depot and hooked it up to a hose and a Rubbermaid container with a couple of holes to create his own steamer for $100.

Frank Reilly is an equine veterinarian in West Chester, Pa., with a special interest in dealing with insulin resistant horses.


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Click here to read part 2 of the Feb. 15, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: How much weight should my mare gain during pregnancy?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.