The Effect of Soaking on Protein and Mineral Loss in Orchardgrass and Alfalfa Hay

Krishona Lynn Martinson, Marcia Hathaway, Hans Jung, Craig Sheaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Nonstructural carbohydrates are usually targeted for reduction during hay soaking, however, other essential nutrients may also be lost. The objectives of this research were to determine the impact of water temperature and time of soaking on reduction of protein and minerals from alfalfa and orchardgrass hay. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with six replications (n = 192). Hay types included bud and flowering alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) and vegetative and flowering orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L). Flakes were soaked for 15, 30, and 60 minutes in 25 L of cold (22°C) and warm (39°C) water, and for 12 hours in cold water. Changes in crude protein concentration after soaking had no effect (P > .05) on alfalfa-bud or flowering orchardgrass hay. However, crude protein concentration increased (P = .02) as soaking length increased in vegetative orchardgrass, and decreased as soaking length increased (P < .001) in flowering alfalfa hay. Soaking did not affect (P > .05) calcium (Ca) concentrations in flowering alfalfa and orchardgrass; however, Ca (P < .001) was reduced as soaking length increased in alfalfa-bud and vegetative orchardgrass hay. Reductions in phosphorus (P), potassium, and magnesium concentrations occurred with longer soaking times, resulting in high Ca:P ratios after 12 hours of soaking (P < .001). Soaking for 15-60 minutes did not result in nutrient deficiencies based on the requirements of a 500-kg horse in light work. However, supplementation of P after feeding hay soaked for 12 hours would be necessary to address high Ca:P ratios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-782
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Ca:P ratio
  • Crude protein
  • Hay soaking
  • Horse
  • Mineral loss


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