Feeding severe asthmatic

Need idea how to best feed my horse based on my situation.

This is a new diagnosis, been working with the vets over the last month. Brought him in for scope and BAL. Been trying to manage with netted round bales. After the appointment, vet says get him off the rounds asap. We are starting a new course of inhalers, but need to change his feed if it’s going to make any difference.

Here’s what the troubles are:

  • Lives outside 24/7. Cant be inside or it aggravates the asthma.
  • live in Canada. It’s frozen outside 8 months a year. Soaking hay won’t work.
  • I board. Whatever change it is needs to work for the facility. They are pretty accommodating, thankfully.
  • he’s in a new paddock, but has to share it with at least 1 other horse. Has to be suitable for another horses to eat also.
  • don’t currently have nets for square bales, but vet specifically said if squares, a solid grate type of net would be needed so they can’t shake the netting. Not even sure where to get one of those or if it would work for the barn staff
  • thought of cubes, but the BO won’t allow any of the other horses to eat cubes unsoaked. Don’t have the paddock space for him to live alone fully. Would have to share with a indoor horse for at least the daytime, so cubes would only be ok at night. He’s eaten non soaked cubes before without problem.
  • no idea if steamers would work, but they are expensive and would need to be done for a large quantity of hay.
  • Other kinds of hay replacements? They have compressed hay for some lamnitic horses, but its pricey and he needs more calories. I’m going to the feed store tomorrow, will ask what options they have.
  • History of ulcers, also a hard keeper. Has only maintained weight in the winter when on a round bale. Worried about him going without food for too long.

Right now he’s in a new paddock and I shook out some flakes for him. Barn feeds the squares in round feeders, so cant shake a spread much. Also concerns about wind blowing away hay if it’s spread too much.

I’ve had a tonne of stuff thrown at me today, so there might be an obvious solution I’m overlooking. Anyone have something that worked for you in similar circumstances?

Hay pellets could be a safer option than cubes if you need to feed an unsoaked hay alternative. Be cautious of feeders with metal or similar grates - they can cause damage to teeth and gums. I bought a PortaGrazer for my heaves horse and it was a godsend - very pricey up front but will last forever, can be used outdoors and has a solid base with slow feed apparatus that contains dust and cannot be shaken loose. Not sure if they ship to Canada or not though.

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The hay steamers really work well for these guys, no problem to share with another horse, the only downside is the price–I’ve seen a few used ones that fit a full bale (and really more like 1 1/3 depending on size) for around 2k obo. They’re also very easy to use and not particularly time consuming.

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This stuff looks good; https://greenprairie.com/products/

And the wiring. As I recall you need two separate 1500 AMP plug ins. And in cold weather the boiler must be located in a heated location.

My heaves horse had multiple emergency calls and thousands of dollars spent on meds. Removed her from the “round bale” environment and the problems stopped. Completely stopped.

Hopefully you can do the same. So sorry for your horse and your dealing with it - very stressful.

For the full bale, yes you need 2 plugs, only 1 for the half bale. We did not need to move the boiler(s), but that might depend on how well insulated your barn is. It was the only thing that worked for my horse who was already living out but not on a round bale. We couldn’t soak due to freezing temps.

I think you only need the two separate circuits for the largest (full bale) size steamer. The half bale size may work okay if you only need hay for 1.5 horses (if he’s only sharing the paddock during the day). But agree that the boiler/hoses need to be kept in a heated area. And they aren’t cheap.

Good to know on that wiring detail and boiler. My research into the steamer had me see the value in them in spades. Plan to get one eventually - barn build project went waaaay over budget.

I love my Porta Grazer!

Hay Saver https://www.pleasantridge.ca/index.php/hay-saver.html

160L cooler, nylon net for inside the cooler, a bin the same size as the cooler for measuring how much hay will fit in the cooler, and a kettle.

It’s not a perfect way to steam hay, but if nothing more, it dampens it down without full on soaking it.

FWIW, the Hay Saver lives in my horse’s stall. It would work well outside for a couple of horses, I think. More than that and it would end up empty pretty quickly.

Thanks for all the ideas. Leaning towards either steaming or compressed(with or without netting if it’s dust free??)

For steaming hay, are you able to steam several bales in advance? Say you steamed 4 bales then put those outside for them to eat over several days. Would those stay relatively dust free the entire time? Sounds like the BO had considered a steamer in the past and has the plans to make one. They may be convinced to put one together if it’s something that would work, logistically. As far as I know, the barn is equipped with all the water and power required.

I like the looks of those slow feeders, haven’t seen a store that stocks them around here. BO didn’t know where to buy one either. Possible to make one. I’m putting him back in front shoes next cycle, so depending on the type of net, if we don’t go with a solid kind, need to make sure he won’t get his shoes caught in it.

Looking more at compressed hay. Checking the other bales at the barn, they were pretty much dust free from what I could tell. BO is going to get more for themselves this week, so I can have them pick up a pallet for me too, but it also means I’ll be feeding one of the BO’s horses with the expensive hay since they buddies and living with my guy. That might be cost I’ll just have to accept.

In the winter/cooler months, yes you can do several bales in advance. I used hay bags (the full zippered bale bags) to store them so they wouldn’t get re-dusty. You can’t do too much in advance in the summer or it will get moldy because of the moisture.

Take another look at Porta-grazers. Pricey, but worth it. In my several years’ experience, they are super easy to load, hay stays clean so less waste, and all the dust settles to the bottom. Horses don’t touch it. I dump the dust out once a week or so - it’s remarkable how much accumulates in that timeframe. They have a drain plug so soaking is an easy option when weather allows. If fed with another horse, ideally you would have 3 Porta-grazers, so they can rotate grazing stations without stress. Not sure if the company ships to Canada, but seems likely since they have international dealers. In the stall I use rectangular hay bags with 2 inch holes. Even though the bag moves some, it doesn’t fling dust around. Dust settles out the bottom of the bag not into the horse’s face. For hard keepers, supplementing with hay pellets is a good option. I use both grass and alfalfa pellets from time to time for my senior.

I’ve looked at Portagrazers more but it doesn’t look like they have any Canadian suppliers. Other ones I’ve seen around me aren’t the style I want; either metal grates or too big/heavy or have the wrong kind of net.

Currently, he’s eating compressed hay, hand fed throughout the day then a whole bale at night. The hay itself is super dust-free. It’s not netted, but spread out so he’s not sticking his nose in it ever. He’s alone at night and one of the indoor horses gets turned out with him during the day since they also eat the compressed hay. I don’t think the compressed hay would work super well with a net, either.

So far, this is working really well. His breathing is way better but I’ll need to wait until the inhalers are stopped to determine if the compressed hay is the final solution.

Take another look at the Hay Saver. If the store I linked above won’t ship, I’m sure that someone else will - just need to find them! After all, they get shipped totostores, it’s not like they magically appear so having one stuck on a train or bus or anteing up for oversized shipping should be possible with persuasion.

Interesting DIY stuff; https://www.equisteam.com/shop/

The Hay Saver linked is made in Germany, which explains the price/availability.

High Country Plastics have a hay saver; https://highcountryplastics.com/products/sfs-slow-feeder-saver. They also have Dealers in Ontario. (I didn’t check other Towns/Provinces)

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I highly recommend the hay steamer option. Yes, there is a bit of an investment as to the initial cost, but vet visits, meds, extra cubes or pellets, feeders, etc. also add up quickly.

Yes, you can steam hay in advance and serve it later on.

After having worked in barns with hay steamers, I have always said if my horse ever develops a respiratory issue, that the first thing I would purchase is a hay steamer as the initial cost will be well worth the long term investment.

Steaming removes so many more spores, etc. than any other method and there is no downside to to feeding steamed hay. It is not time consuming to steam from a barn management perspective, and it eliminates the need for your horse to be fed separately from others.

If you secure the hay net at several different points (3+) it may work ok for you. I use an extended day hay net (holds 25+ lbs of hay). It is 3’x4’ in size. I have eye screws and clips at each corner. The horses have are much less frustrated eating and they can’t “shake” the hay bag. I have them hanging from the top board of my 3 board fencing. I put a 40 gallon trough under them to catch the chaff. If the chaff falls in the trough they will eat it. If it falls on the ground and they step on it, they won’t eat it.

Hay steamers and soakers are used to prevent the effects of moldy/dusty hay. The prefered option is NOT TO FEED DUSTY/MOLDY HAY.

Actually, the preferred method, because so many people can’t recognize tiny amounts of mold or dust, is to steam or soak hay and where possible store all of it in a separate building to that which houses horses.