There are a couple of different methods of feeding hay cubes. Hay cubes are essentially just hay compressed into a cube shape, usually with some vitamins and minerals added to meet the minimum guaranteed nutritional content. They represent a convenient, mess-free, and waste-free way to feed horses, not to mention a necessity for getting enough nutrients into some old horses or those with bad teeth.
While some horses can chew hay cubes as is, others need to have their feed soaked. Here are three examples of when you might need to soak your horse’s hay cubes before you feed it.
If your horse is old or has bad teeth, he may benefit from having his feed soaked. Old horses often have a hard time chewing and/or digesting hay, which must be well-chewed in order to break through the outer husk and make the inner nutrients digestible. The same goes for any younger horse that has a tooth problem preventing them from adequately chewing their hay.
Soaked hay cubes are, essentially, pre-chewed, creating a mash that is easy to eat and digest. You can either use cold water, which has to soak for a while, or hot water, which does the job much more quickly and creates an inviting mash in cooler weather. Use enough water to fully dissolve the cubes, and leave it in the mash afterward to encourage plenty of water intake, especially in winter.
Some horses have metabolic diseases that require their owners to limit the amount of sugar in their diets. Grain and treats, even fresh produce such as apples and carrots, have far too much sugar for some horses, but perhaps surprisingly, a lot of hay and hay pellets do too. Too much sugar in a such a horse’s diet can have disastrous consequences, such as causing founder and laminitis.
Horses with a sensitivity to sugar in their diet may need to have their hay soaked first to leech out the excess sugars. The same can be done with hay cubes. Put the hay cubes in a large colander and put the colander in a bucket of water to absorb the excess sugars. After soaking, the colander makes it easy to feed just the cubes and discard the water.
Some horses develop respiratory problems from continually breathing the dust in hay and/or hay cubes. Eating moldy hay and breathing the spores from the mold can be especially bad for a horse’s respiratory system, and in a condition known as heaves, the damage may be irreversible. Other horses simply have allergies or a sensitivity to the dust in their feed.
If your horse develops a persistent cough that crops up during exercise, or if you notice his feed is very dusty, you can soak it to prevent him from breathing the dust. You may have already seen hay soaked for this reason, but hay cubes can be soaked to cut down on dust as well. You won’t need to let the cubes get as soft as you would with an older horse or a horse with bad teeth, and unlike a horse with a metabolic sensitivity to sugar, you won’t need to remove the cubes from the water afterward.
Hay cubes are a versatile feed that can be fed a number of ways, depending on the horse’s nutritional and physical needs. For more suggestions for feeding hay cubes, or to find out more about how our pelleted feed can better meet your horse’s nutritional needs, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.