HAY STEAMING

Why should I steam my horse's hay?

Haygain Steamed Hay offers respiratory, digestive and overall benefits to your horse's health. Respiratory benefits come from reducing up to 99% of the respirable particles commonly found in hay. These are a main cause of respiratory disease. Haygain Steaming supports digestive health by reducing bacteria in hay and increasing the moisture content to help forage move through the digestive tract. More moisture also aids hydration. These benefits combine with increased palatability, ensuring that your horse gets everything they need from their hay and nothing they don't. Multiple peer-reviewed published studies prove the benefits of Haygain Steamed Hay.

What makes Haygain stand apart from other hay steamers?

Haygain's patented hay steaming technology is the only scientifically proven method for significantly reducing the respirable particles commonly found in hay. Extensive peer-reviewed published research establishes the benefits of Haygain Steamed Hay for horses' respiratory, digestive and overall health. Read the research here. A spike manifold steam injection system ensures thorough steaming of all hay in the thermally-sealed chest and at temperatures required to deactivate disease-causing mold, bacteria and other allergens. Haygain Hay Steaming was developed in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, UK and its benefits continue to be verified by ongoing research. Haygain Steamed Hay is the standard of care in much of the equestrian world and is embraced by veterinarians, Olympic equestrians and horse owners worldwide. Haygain is committed to researching various aspects of equine health and to sharing that knowledge with horse owners and care providers. 

What about home made steamers?

While well-intentioned, homemade steamers can often do more harm than good. Steaming forage at insufficient temperatures and durations can dramatically increase mold and bacteria content. They are not designed to deliver steam evenly throughout the hay or to retain the necessary high temperatures. The benefits of feeding Haygain Steamed Hay have been proven many times in published research, which cannot be said about hay steamed in DIY units. 

What about soaking hay?

Soaking hay will dampen microscopic particles so they are more likely to be ingested rather than inhaled into the respiratory system. Because it does not involve high temperatures, however, soaking does not deactivate mold and bacteria. In fact, it can increase them. A 10-minute soak can increase bacteria content by 150%, whereas Haygain's high temperatures deactivate mold and harmful bacteria. The soaking process produces post-soak liquid -- and lots of it -- that is 9X more polluting than raw sewage. Soaking hay requires between 60 and 100 litres of water, while Haygain steaming requires just 4 litres. The small amount of post-steam liquid is not toxic. 


Steamed Hay retains its hygienic qualities for at least 24 hours, while soaked hay should be fed quickly.


Steaming hay preserves nutrients; soaking leaches them. Studies show that most horses prefer steamed hay over soaked or dry, and many horses don't like taste and texture of soaked hay. 

Can I also steam haylage or straw? 

Yes. Haygain Steaming will improve the hygienic quality of any forage. Scientific studies have also shown it will increase the shelf life of haylage by up to 4 days.

Once steamed, how long before you feed the hay and how long does it last?

Steamed Hay can be fed shortly after the steaming cycle is finished and the initial release of steam has dissipated after lifting the lid. It is hot initially, but cools down quickly and most owners report their horses enjoy it served warm -- especially on chilly mornings! Haygain Steamed Hay retains its hygienic qualities for at least 24 hours. 

Will my horse like it?

Studies demonstrate most horses prefer Haygain Steamed Hay over dry or soaked hay. Some horses may adjust to it gradually and will benefit from a mix of dry and steamed hay in the beginning.

What does steamed hay look and feel like?

Steamed hay feels moist: it is not wet like soaked hay. Its appearance varies based on the type of hay. Green forages may lose their colour due to high temperature's effect on the chlorophyll that gives it that green hue. 

Is the hay heavy to lift after steaming?

Steaming does not affect the hay's weight. 

How much water will be used?

The hay will absorb the water, bringing it back towards its original moisture content, approximately 15+% of its original weight. Steaming uses about 4 ½ litres of water per cycle. Some is absorbed by the hay, some is released as steam when the lid opens and a small amount exits through drain holes in the chest base. Soaking hay, by contrast, uses 60 to 80 litres of water.

What are the advantages of steaming a whole bale in the Haygain HG2000?

The HG 2000 accommodates a fully strung bale of hay. Placing an intact bale in the chest prevents the release of respiratory particles that occurs when the bale is pulled apart. That helps reduce overall respirable particles in the air, which is great for horses and the people caring for them. 

Does steaming affect nutrients?

Steaming only slightly reduces the water soluble carbohydrates (aka "sugar") in hay. If a significant reduction in sugar is desired, the latest research suggests a 9-hour soak followed by a 50-minute steam to reduce sugars while maintaining hygienic quality. Ideally, hay is analysed to determine nutrient content, including sugars, enabling best next steps for specific horse needs. 

Does steaming reduce the sugar content of hay?

Steaming only slightly reduces the water soluble carbohydrates (aka "sugar") in hay. If a significant reduction in sugar is desired, the latest research suggests a 9-hour soak followed by a 50-minute steam to reduce sugars while maintaining hygienic quality. Ideally, hay is analysed to determine nutrient content, including sugars, enabling best next steps for specific horse needs. 

I want to keep my horse on a forage-only diet. Is that possible with a Haygain Hay Steamer?

A forage-only diet is very good for horses’ gut health because it’s high in fibers and low in starches, and it offers horses the chance to chew for long hours of the day the way nature intended.

But nature also intended for horses to roam and consume a wide variety of green grasses, bushes, tree leaves, and other plants that would provide them with all the nutrients they need for a healthy diet. Today’s pastures and hay fields lack this variety, and much of the protein is lost in the drying, cutting, and storing process.

Nutrition experts recommend providing horses with a daily balancer—a small blend of vitamins, minerals, and proteins—if they are kept on a forage-only diet. That is true regardless of whether the forage has been steamed or not.

In very rare circumstances involving specifically developed, immature, early cut high-protein grasses stored as haylage or silage, owners might be able to cut the protein balancer. But in that case, the forage must undergo regular laboratory analyses to ensure the protein levels are high enough, and the horses must have consistent body condition scoring. Again, that is the case whether the forage has been steamed or not.

Does the steaming process damage the proteins in hay?

Steaming might have a mild effect on proteins that would make them less available to a horse’s digestive tract. This is similar to the way boiling an egg would make some of its proteins slightly less available to humans.

Practically speaking, however, this mild effect would make almost no difference in horses’ protein intake from hay. Studies in live horses have shown that horses only take up 22% of the already low amounts of protein in dry hay. The consequences of any damage caused by steaming would be negligible.

Because horses on forage-based diets need supplemental protein regardless of whether the forage is dry or steamed, they can gain all the benefits from steaming without any changes in their protein uptake.

What kinds of protein supplements should I give my horse on a forage-based diet?

Commercial concentrated feeds provide all the protein horses need, provided they are fed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

Owners wishing to eliminate concentrated feeds from their horses’ diet can provide high-quality and highly palatable Haygain-steamed hay supplemented with a commercial ration balancer. A handful of balancer each day provides the vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in today’s fresh and stored forage.

If the balancer does not already include protein, owners can add small quantities of beet pulp or soybean meal, which are available at levels higher than 90% in the small intestine, or chopped alfalfa, which is available at about 50%. Check with your nutritionist or Haygain consultant for more specific recommendations and dosages depending on your individual horse’s needs.

Do I need to let the steamed hay cool down before feeding?

The steamed hay cools down very quickly. It can be fed shortly after the initial release of steam from the chest and for at least 24 hours afterward.

How long can the hay be stored for before feeding?

Haygain Steamed Hay retains its hygienic qualities for at least 24 hours after steaming. Haygain Hay Bags keep the steamed hay fresh and clean.

Does it matter if the steamed hay dries out?

Haygain Steamed Hay goes from moist to dry soon after exposure to the air. This has no effect on the hygienic quality or palatability. We recommend feeding the hay within 24 hours to prevent contamination from environmental sources.

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HEALTH BENEFITS

My horse does not cough and appears healthy – Why should I steam hay with Haygain?

We recommend Haygain Steamed Hay as a preventive measure. Exposure to respirable particles such as mold spores and bacteria can induce allergic responses and develop a hypersensitivity reaction in the horse. Even the best quality hays are high in respirable particles. These particles form the microscopic, invisible “dust” (they are less than 5 µm in size) and are most likely to penetrate deep into your horse's lungs. Their presence triggers irritation and inflammation throughout the respiratory tract, causing conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum. Minimising the amount of “dust” your horse is subjected to will help to prevent respiratory problems. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated that horses fed Haygain Steamed Hay had a 65% reduced chance of having Inflammatory Airway Disease, aka Mild or Moderate Equine Asthma. When horse owners tell prominent Equine Science Professor Meriel Moore-Colyer that their horse is healthy because it doesn't cough, her response is "Yet..." Exposure to high concentrations of respirable particles is a reality of stabled life for most horses. Feeding Steamed Hay is a great way to reduce their exposure and protect their respiratory system. 

My horse already has respiratory disease. Can Steamed Hay still help him? 

Yes. Minimising respirable dust in the horse's environment is the #1 recommendation for horses with any condition on the Equine Asthma Spectrum -- from Mild Inflammatory Airway Disease to Severe Equine Asthma, aka "heaves." Forage is critical for horse health, but it's also a major source of respirable dust that causes and aggravates these conditions. Haygain Steaming reduces up to 99% of these respirable particles, greatly improving the air quality in your horse's environment, and, critically, in the area where its nose hovers over the hay for long periods. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Medicine stated that horses with Recurring Airway Obstruction (aka Severe Equine Asthma), who were fed Haygain Steamed Hay, exhibited virtually no clinical signs of the disease. The same horses fed dry hay over the same 10 day time span showed a significant increase in symptoms.

How long before I see positive effects from steaming and will my horse stop coughing?

Improvements are often reported within days of starting Haygain Steamed Hay. However, responses depend on the individual horse, the cause of the cough and other environmental factors. For example, if you change to feeding Haygain Steamed Hay but your horse remains on a dusty straw bed, you will probably see some improvement, but it may be compromised by the other sources of respirable dust. Equally, if you make changes to your horse’s feeding and management regime but the horses stabled nearby and sharing the same air space have dry hay and straw bedding, the benefits to your horse may not be as dramatic. 

Can I feed steamed hay to my laminitic pony?

Yes, steamed hay can be fed to any horse or pony. For a laminitic case, forage with a water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) level less than 10% is the general recommendation. Multiple variables affect nutrient levels in forage and a nutrient analysis is the reliable way to determine this in each batch of hay. If hay has a higher value, a standard steam cycle of 60 minutes will reduce the WSC slightly. Because steaming preserves nutrients, soaking hay will typically reduce WSC more, but the degree of reduction for both methods varies greatly. To more significantly reduce WSCs, and in a more consistent manner, the latest research suggests a 9-hour soak followed by a 50-minute steam will be the most effective method. The steaming phase ensures hygienically clean hay: soaking alone can increase bacteria -- by up to 150% after a 10-minute soak.

Does steamed hay have any negative side effects?

There are no side effects to feeding steamed hay.

Can steamed hay cause loose or watery stools?

Steamed hay has no negative side effects on the digestive tract. Steamed hay can support gastrointestinal health, primarily through significant reduction of bacteria. 

Does steamed hay help with headshakers or pollen allergies? 

Minimising exposure to respirable irritants in the areas of your horse's environment over which you have control is always a good idea. It may improve your horse's ability to cope with potential allergens, like pollen, that you can't control. 

Does it help with Exercised-Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage (EIPH)? 

The causes of EIPH are multifactorial. However, minimising exposure to respirable irritants in areas of your horse's environment over which you have control is always a good idea.

What else can I do to minimise the dust in my horse’s environment?

Use dust-free bedding. Improve the ventilation (5 changes of air per hour to be classed as a well-ventilated area). Hoover up any cob webs. Be aware of the surrounding stables and what is in the same air space as your horse. Make sure dry hay is stored outside in a separate building.

Can Steamed Hay help with gut health? 

Yes. Haygain Steaming reduces disease-causing bacteria and maintains other bacteria that can help break down plant material, thus easing digestion. Per a 2020 study published in PLoS One, Haygain Steamed Hay achieves this while maintaining hay's nutrients and bacterial diversity. Haygain Steamed Hay also has up to 3X the moisture content of dry hay, helping forage pass through the digestive tract. 

Can Steamed Hay help with hydration? 

Yes. Haygain Steamed Hay has up to 3X the moisture content of dry hay. This helps horses stay hydrated in hot weather and heavy work, and during travel, competition and the cold winter months when many horses drink less water.

How does Steam Hay affect performance? 

The combined benefits to respiratory and digestive health and appetite contribute to peak overall health and performance. 

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TECHNICAL

Which Haygain Hay Steamer do I need

This depends on how many horses you wish to feed or the individual requirements of your horse. You can calculate with 1.75 kg of hay per 100 kg of body weight for a horse. As an example, a 500 kg horse requires 8.75 kg of hay.

The Haygain HG ONE has an approximate capacity of 5-7 kg of hay. For the Haygain HG 600 it is 9-14 kg; for the Haygain HG 2000, it's 20-30 kg. The HG ONE is a great travel unit and ideal for feeding one horse or pony. Any Haygain model can be run multiple times a day. However, two steaming cycles also doubles the daily power consumption and time expenditure. The HG 600 is our most popular model. Its easily portable and can feed 1-3 horses. The HG 2000 is recommended for 4+ horses. It steams more hay in the same one-hour cycle.

We understand not every horse owner will have the budget for our bigger models and it is of course possible to cycle any Haygain model several times a day. Some of our clients steam twice in a row in the morning and others once in morning and once in the evening. This will depend on your individual routine and what works best for you.

How much does Haygain cost to run?

Electricity use is minimal and water usage is substantially less than that required to soak hay. The HG 2000 uses two, 1.5 kW steam generators, or "boilers," so 3 kW of electricity per hour. The HG 600 and HG ONE each use one 1.5 kW boiler. Calculate the electricity cost of each steaming cycle by multiplying your utility company's per-hour kilowat rate by the kilowat usage of your steamer model. For comparison, a washing machine typically requires 1.7 kWs.

What power connection does the Haygain require?

The HG 2000 uses two 1.5 kW boilers, so it needs a total power supply of 3.0 kW. Each boilers should be connected to different circuits. At a minimum, they need two different sockets. The HG ONE and HG 600 use one 1.5kW boiler. Do not use a double plug socket or extension. Consult an electrician to confirm that your power supply is adequate for your steamer and all other anticipated electricity demands. A dedicated power circuit for the steamer is sometimes needed, especially in older barns. Our customer service team is happy to advise on this important aspect of successful hay steaming.

How do I use the Haygain?

Haygain Hay Steamers arrive with a manual of easy-to-follow instructions for set-up, operation and long-term maintenance. Read the manual carefully and ensure that all who use the steamer also read the manual and can access it easily when needed. To steam, simply connect the steam generator, aka "boiler," chest and hose. Fill boiler with water, fill the chest with hay, plug the boiler into the power source, then set its switch to steam. Horses nickering at the first whiffs of steamed hay will let you know all is well!

How long does steaming take?

The average steaming cycle time of 50-60 minutes is affected by several variables. These include water and ambient temperatures and power supply. In cold temperatures, normal steaming time can extend to 1.5 hours. 

Does the Haygain turn off after finishing a steam cycle?

Haygain Hay Steamers do not have built-in timers. However, each steamer purchase includes a commercial timer, which enables you to programme your steaming cycles.

There is sometimes a little bit of water coming out of the drain hole in the chest during the steaming cycle. What do you recommend? 

That is normal – it is usually condensation that collects under the lid during steaming. We recommend using a sturdy kitchen or garden tray under the drain hole(s) to catch this water. 

Where should I use my Haygain?

Haygain units should ideally be kept indoors, or at least under a roof and protected from the weather.

The steam generator or "boiler" itself must not be exposed to sub-zero temperatures. If necessary, separate the boiler from the unit and take it into a heated indoor space. 

Does the outside of the hay chest get hot?

All of the steamer chests are made of composite materials with highly efficient thermal properties. While temperatures inside the chest can reach over 100° C, the outside is just warm to the touch. Thermal efficiency makes Haygain Hay Steamers energy efficient. 

What accessories do you recommend?

The steam generators or "boilers" need to be descaled regularly to prevent limescale build-up from affecting the water heating process. Haygain Descaler is recommended for this simple procedure and two packs are included with the initial steamer purchase. Haygain's non-shrink hay nets are popular for easy hay handling and Haygain bale bags keep the fresh steamed hay clean for travel or feeding later in the day. Timers are included with your steamer purchase.

Where can I see or trial any Haygain products?

Haygain products are not available on a trial basis. They are demonstrated at various events and competitions throughout the year. Contact our customer support team to find out if we'll be at an upcoming event near you. 

Can I use haynets in the Haygain?

Yes, if the hay net can withstand temperatures of up to 110°C. Many hay nets are not heat resistant and can shrink during steaming. Haygain Hay Nets are made of polyethylene and nylon. They don't shrink during steaming. 

My boiler is broken, does Haygain offer repairs?

Please reach out to our specialised customer support team who will be able to help with repairs. Click here. 

Can I purchase spare parts for my Haygain?

Spare parts for the Haygain are available. Please call our specialised customer support team who will be able to assist. Click here. 

Can I lock my steamer or protect it from being stolen?

The best way to keep your Haygain safe is to store it in a safe, indoor lockable space. The unit itself can be secured with a lock chain. 

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Payments and Delivery

How can I pay? 

We accept all major payment methods credit/visa and BACs.

We accept all major payment methods credit/visa and BACs.

Payment options available through our website include Klarna and Paypal may also provide installment options. 

How is the Haygain delivered?

The Haygain HG ONE is delivered by DHL and comes in 2 packages. The HG 600 and HG 2000 require pallet shipments. Our local transport partner will contact you for a delivery appointment, the final lead time will depend on the appointment made. For parcel shipments, you can follow your parcel via the tracking conformation. Certain remote and/or residential areas can have longer lead times. To read further information regarding delivery click here.

When will my Haygain arrive?

Delivery times will vary between models, please refer to the individual product pages for the most up to date delivery times. 

Do I need to be in to receive my Haygain?

If the delivery attempt has not been successful, you will receive a notification from our parcel carrier. If delivery had been made e.g. to a neighbour, this will also be notified. After a failed delivery attempt the parcel will move to a local parcel collection point, you will be notified where and when the parcel can be collected. 

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