Soaking hay before feeding cannot be relied on to make it safe for laminitis-prone horses, according to a recent study.
One of the factors that has been recognised as increasing the risk of laminitis is the over consumption of water soluble carbohydrates (WSC). It has been recommended that obese animals and those at risk of laminitis should be fed hay with a non-structural carbohydrate (WSC and starch) content of less than 10%. Soaking hay in water before being fed has been suggested in order to reduce the WSC.
The study, conducted by the Laminitis Consortium, examined the loss of water-soluble carbohydrates from different hays submerged in water for up to 16 hours. The nine different hay samples were analysed for WSC and then soaked in cold water. The soaked samples were subsequently analysed after 20 minutes, 40 minutes, three hours and 16 hours.
“The results showed a highly variable leaching of WSC and substantially less leaching than reported previously for chopped hay soaked for 30 minutes” explained Clare Barfoot. “Very few samples reached below 10% WSC, despite prolonged soaking. The concern is that this strongly suggests that soaking may not be sufficient to render some hays safe to feed to horses and ponies prone to laminitis.”