I am strongly considering purchasing a hay steamer for my mare and am curious as to how many people own and use them and what brands, etc. are recommended. My mare has low grade heaves that generally just manifests by her coughing a few times daily and at the beginning of a workout. She is already on 23.5 hour a day turnout and is doing quite well, however the vet thinks soaking or steaming the hay will also be beneficial.
Soaking hay can obviously be a pain, and it worries me that soaking may be leaching nutrients out of the hay, so I am very interested in hay steamers. None of my equestrian acquaintances have ever used them though, so I am trying to get some advice from folks who have. My main questions are:
Are the (very expensive) ready made steamers far superior to making your own? I've seen a few blog posts on how to make one and, while I am not crafty like that, I'm pretty sure my husband or my father could make one. If a homemade steamer won't kill the mold and get rid of the dust though it won't do me any good!
How often do you steam hay? Can I steam a bunch once per day and it will still be good to feed 12 or more hours later? Or do you need to steam each feeding right before feeding it? How would you store it after steaming it?
How long does the steaming process generally take? I'm sure this varies by model and by capacity. I am mainly looking at travel size and/or half bale steamers since I only have 2 equines.
Are there any particular brands that are recommended or that you absolutely advise not to use?
Any personal experiences, anecdotes, advice will all be greatly appreciated by me and my horse