First of all, thank you to the reader who suggested I purchase a hay steamer after my horses decided not to eat the hay I had provided last week (story linked here). Great idea!
WHAT IS A HAY STEAMER?
A hay steamer works just like a veggie steamer – except bigger and not on your stove or in your microwave. A steamer is usually made of heavy duty plastic. There are steam points or spikes inside which pierce the hay and inject the steam. Usually, there is a steam device on the outside of the steamer that fits into an attachment to push the steam into the pipes which lead to the vents and into your hay.
I’ve seen a few different sizes and styles.
WHY STEAM HAY?
I’m kinda sold on this… I’m not sure I would do it everyday, but when I have an older bale or a dusty bale, I’d do it for sure.
You would steam hay to reduce dust. However, if you steam it, you also kill mold, dust mites, spores, bacteria, fungus and any other bad stuff that might be living in there. And, steaming retains the nutrients of the hay versus soaking which can strip the hay of many nutrients.
For horses inside a barn, this is a great idea! As we all know, ventilation and respiration issues happen in large barns. It could only help to reduce the amount of dust and unhealthy particles that might be in their hay.
And, if you have a horses that has a tendency toward allergies, asthma or general respiration stresses, this is a godsend. I have a pony who often sounds like a locomotive when he eats due to his allergies. This would be great for him!
I also think there would be less waster if the horses didn’t push some of it around because it didn’t smell right. The steam brings out the aroma.
Oh, and if you have ever soaked hay to get rid of the dust, you know what a mess this can become… also, the haynets become very, very heavy. Steaming would be much more convenient.
First, I must add, I have tried none of these.
Portable: I like this one! Small and relatively manageable. However, I read some reviews and some say it leaks water and only holds a small amount. Good for one horse. The great news is that these are on sale at SMARTPAK right now! Free shipping, too!
Wheelbarrow type: I found this only in the UK. It is a good size and rollable yet lightweight. I never did find a price but I think it is an inbetween model.
Pro: This is the big daddy of steamers. You can find it at Happy Horse as well.
Haygain in the USA! : This is the one my reader recommended. She raves by it. I have not tried it.
Here is what their website says: The HAYGAIN system is available in 3 sizes. The HG-1000 full bale unit with 2 steam boilers is priced at $2,550 + $150 shipping, the HG-600 half bale unit with 1 steam boiler is available for $1,450 + $100 shipping and the HG-GO travel HAYGAIN with 1 steam boiler is available for $800 + $75 shipping. Feel free to contact us with any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
My favorite: I found this only in the UK. It was relatively cheap! 299.00 Euro. It is still expensive when you consider the exchange rate and shipping… but the design seems really solid — and easy. I wrote to them and asked if these were sold in the US. I’m waiting to hear.
While roaming around the internet for my hay steamer quest, I found a few people that made their own… I’m going to print them here since I know you can find these on the internet if you looked like I did. But, the reasonI am listing them is not so that you will do this, but perhaps these ideas may excite an engineer near you.
Again, I have no ideas if these below contraptions would catch on fire or electrocute a person. So, don’t do this unless you are sure you’ll be OK.
1) Refer Madness – I don’t know this person but here is her description:
I have three horses (one with severe heaves)so I steam hay for all three as it is beneficial for the horse regardless if they have heaves or not. I took an old refrigerator, laid it on its back, drilled a hole between the freezer compartment and the fridge, placed a wall paper steamer ($45) that comes with a hose on it in the freezer compartment, fed the hose through to the fridge portion (which is lined with heavy black plastic – the kind I use to store my hay on), I placed a rack in the fridge to raise the hay so the steam could better penetrate it, place your hay on the rack (I can get 1/2 a bale in it), lay a sheet of plastic over the hay – making sure the plastic overlaps all sides of the fridge door once it is closed, I then place a few heavy blocks on the door to make it seal tightly so no steam excapes. I steam the hay for 80 minutes (read somewhere that this is the preferred amount of time). I placed a thermometer in the unit a few times to see how hot it gets in there – it was over 120F. You can put your steamer on a timer if you don’t trust yourself to remember to watch it so it doesn’t run out of water. I live in an area where the winters can be brutal and steaming hay is way easier than soaking hay – not to mention you do not loose nutrients either.
2) Only a Woman Would Know: Again, I don’t know this person but she is very resourceful
I made my own!
Conair Garment Steamer……………$49.99
(1200 watt) heats in 1 minute
and steams for 60 minutes on
a full tank of water
PVC Pipe & fittings………………….$5.00
I have a wood burner and I put the chisel tip on it and used that to ‘cut’ the hole for the pipe
I drilled holes in the pipe as well as ‘capping’ it and I drilled a hole in that too.
I also ‘cut’ the end of the garment steamer attachment off and used an insert to shove the hose into.
I put the hay in and while I am getting his grain ready, wandering the stall, checking his water, the aroma of steaming alfalfa/timothy fills the cold barn air. 15 minutes later I have steamed, warm, no dust, all the nutrients, hay!
Last night was the first batch with a tester batch earlier that day. Last night I filled the trunk so when I get to the barn this AM I will plug in and steam away! He loved the warm hay, it wasn’t ‘hot’ and the steam rising in his face from his food, he was happy boy
3) Down and Dirty: Another clever stranger from the internet:
I made a hay steamer for £50, which is just as good, if not better than the shop bought one which cost £600. i bought a wallpaper steamer which cost me £20 and a water butt (rain barrel) from any diy shop ie:(B&Q). insert the pipe from the wallpaper steamer into the hole at the bottom of the water butt, leave for 20mins and hey presto you have steamed hay.
The idea is so great, we should all be able to afford a hay steamer!
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JANUARY DROP IN THE BUCKET FUND: THE PAIUTE ORPHAN FOALS
To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)