Best, least messy way to soak hay

Spud has developed a cough, no nasal discharge and no fever, just a cough. I’m thinking the hay might have a bit of dust on it even though I shake it out before feeding. Next step is wetting the hay prior to feeding. What’s the easiest way to soak hay that causes the least mess in the barn. He eats out of a closed bottom feeder so just sticking the hose in there won’t work. Any ideas on what is the best way to combat his cough?

I see people soaking a net in a muck bucket then draining and hanging in. Rather messy.

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At my barn, we put a laundry hamper into a garbage bin, add hay, then wet with hot water. The lid snaps closed, so it also allows for steaming if you don’t need to soak the hay all the way through. When you’re ready to feed, tip the can onto its side to let the water drain, take the can to the stall and remove the hamper to dump out the hay. The hamper and garbage bin can then be rinsed out for the next day.


I’ve done soaking by first stuffing a hay net (and have a handy setup if you want a picture) and then putting the hay bag in a muck bucket, soaking and then dumping the water. Not too messy at all.

Then let the hay bag drain a few minutes and then hang the hay bag out under my lean.


I use the same method as @PaddockWood. Before I fill the muck buckets with water I put them on top of an old wicker outdoor coffee table. Then when I dump, I just tip the bucket over the it flows through the wicker to make less of a mess. Let drain 5-10 minutes then serve.

If/when I find some spare time, I want to experiment with using a stock tank with a drain. Then connecting a small hose to the drain so that I can use the water to water plants, grass, etc., rather than just dumping in the same spot everyday.


A Porta Grazer is the easiest and neatest way to soak has because it has a drain plug in it …simply load hay, fill with water , soak , then open the drain and voila …aside from that I was putting hay in a net, then soaking in a trash can …but the pain in the neck is that you must hoist the super heavy now wet hay Net up high enough to drain it

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I’d invest in a hay steamer, or build your own. If it’s not in the budget, @ladipus 's suggestion with the Porta Grazer would be a very close second to a hay steamer for me. Both are great additions to your horses care.

Check out Facebook Market place for used Porta Grazers, I am sure you can find one that’s affordable!

I prefer soaking in the net, so I use cotton net and soak the haynet in the muck tub. Then drag mucktub out and dump.

A while ago a friend had a semi-efficient method of a large cooler and then a laundry basket that was slightly smaller dimensions than the cooler. She would put the hay in the laundry basket, fill up the cooler in the wash rack, and soak. Then open the little plug for drainage when done.

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Do you have to soak the hay or just get it wet at feeding? I’ve done the whole soaking routine for removing sugars and that’s a pain, but for a horse that coughs a bit due to dust, I’d usually start with just spritzing the hay with a hose when feeding to wet it down a bit. I have one that I have to do this for sometimes, depending on the time of year and type of hay. Way easier than doing the whole soak thing.

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I soak the haynet in a rubbermaid garden cart, then just tip the water out.


I laid the biscuit of hay on a wet Hessian bag. Hosed the hay. Wrapped the biscuit and wet it again.

Another person who soaks in a small hole hay net.
I used an old, clean muck bucket. Then I would pull the hay out and hang it outside to drip before feeding it (fed in the same hay net).

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This. If you’re looking for wet hay to improve a cough, I usually just spray it right before feeding.

If it needs to be soaked-soaked, hay net in muck bucket is the way. If you don’t have a wash rack drain to send the post-soaking water down, make sure you have a plan for where you’re going to dump the water so you don’t create a swamp.

Or an ice patch. Raises hand to indicate I’ve successfully done that.


I used a variation on the net-and-muck-bucket method. I attached a pulley to a post in the wash stall and threaded the hay net rope through. After soaking the net full of hay, I pulled it up with the pulley to drain, much easier on the back!


Wheelie bin with a hole drilled in the bottom and a rain barrel drain plug inserted. Wheel to hay shed, fill up, wheel back to hose, fill with water to soak, then pull plug and drain and wheel to individual stalls to feed.

That’s how we did it 15 years ago, the last time I had to worry about soaking hay. As far as I know that yard is still using it.


I used the stock tank with drain to soak my mare’s hay. It was the best method I tried. Little mess. I had an overhead bar to lift the soaked nets out and drain into the stock tank. Set up added very little time to my barn routine.

I used to soak mine in a hay net dropped into a big trash can. I haven’t had to do it for some years now, but here is my warning…

I had a pony getting ready for a show during the summer, and the hay had been in the trashcan, in the wash stall, overnight. As we were braiding her, she was drinking out of the trash can. When we got to the show, she went in the ring, trotted around, and then stopped, and laid down. No rolling, no pain, she just laid down. I was accused by a couple of people of being dumb enough to not just sedate, but over sedate, the pony. I’ve never shown anything on drugs that weren’t legal, in my life. She was an awesome pony, but we got her up, took her out of the ring, and put her in the trailer to sleep it off.

And yes, the water was fresh the night before.


And you are right. They hay does become SO heavy. Love the Porta Grazer idea. That’s why we’re here. Ever improving collectively.

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Oh my gosh! I’m sure it was not funny, but who would have thought?