Forage Forward: Why Haygain Crops Up in Equine Nutrition Discussions
By Kim Miller | Equestrian Writer
Haygain does not make horse feed. So you might wonder why we are often mentioned in discussions on equine nutrition. It’s because we do make equipment that enables horse owners to feed their horses in a way that most closely aligns with how Mother Nature designed horses to eat and process their food.
There is long-standing and broad consensus in the equine nutrition world that a forage-forward diet is best for almost any horse.
However, forage has a big downside. It’s a top source of the respirable particles that infiltrate and irritate our horses’ respiratory tract and lead to respiratory disease.
Unlike other sources of these microscopic bits of dust, mold, bacteria and other allergens, hay is particularly bad because horses have their nose stuck into it throughout their meals. Hay that’s nudged around while eating can increase the already heavy concentration of airborne respirable particles in our horse’s environment. It can be even worse when horses tug and yank hay from a wall-hung haynet.
Horses’ natural defence mechanisms can handle some stable dust. Cilia and mucus in the respiratory tract work together to move larger particles up and out of the nostrils. Particles smaller than 5 microns are called “respirable particles.” They are invisible and small enough to evade these defences and settle in the lower airways.
Good for the Gut: Bad for Breathing
There, they can trigger inflammation and excess mucus that characterize conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum, from Mild and Moderate Inflammatory Airway Disease to Severe Equine Asthma, aka “Heaves.” Respiratory problems affect a shockingly high percentage of the horse population: over 80%, according to multiple studies.
This is where Haygain jumps into the nutrition discussion.
Haygain’s patented high-temperature steaming process is the only scientifically proven method for significantly reducing the respirable particles in forage. Reducing respirable dust in our horses’ environment is the number-one veterinary recommendation for preventing and/or managing respiratory problems. Because Haygain steaming reduces up to 99% of these particles, it has become the standard of care in equine respiratory health.
Haygain Steaming allows owners to feed a forage-forward diet, without the respiratory risks inherent in feeding dry hay. Up to triple the moisture content of dry hay and proven palatability are bonus benefits to feeding Haygain Steamed Hay.
How Horses Eat Matters, Too!
The Forager Slow Feeder, by Haygain, also facilitates a forage-forward diet. The Forager regulates the pace at which horses eat. Extending meal times in this way is ideal for digestive function. It helps approximate the way horses were designed to eat: slowly, in small bites and over several hours of the day.
The Forager’s sturdy cylinder enables horses to eat with their head in a lowered position, as they do in nature. This allows for drainage of respirable particles out of the upper airway and facilitates a natural alignment of the head, neck and back.
In containing the hay, the Forager prevents contamination and reduces waste that occurs with feeding from the ground.