Deciding what to use for bedding in your stables can be time consuming and frustrating. Sometimes it seems like nothing offers the performance you are after. We look at 4 of the popular choices to help you decide
Straw has always been a popular choice for stable bedding, this is because it is one of the cheaper beddings on the market. Horses do not seem to mind sleeping in straw, and it does the job so it is easy to see why it is a popular choice. However there are a few downsides. Firstly, straw is often bought in bulk, so you have to have the space to store it, and store it well. Obviously if it can get damp and wet in storage the benefits as a bedding decrease – it can also get mouldy. It is not the best at absorbing urine, so care must be taken to make sure the stable environment is not becoming damp.
Shavings or Sawdust
Another popular choice is wood shavings or sawdust. These are considered a better option for those who have horses that are allergic to straw or have respiratory issue. It is also a solution if you have a greedy horse that just eats the straw bedding! Shavings and sawdust offer a much better absorption of urine, but they tend to be more expensive unless you can find a local business that creates them as a byproduct (joiners and carpenters). Overall they create a cleaner stable environment, but are harder to come by.
Peat is a good choice for bedding but you must ensure that you get peat that has been treated to destroy all bacteria and fungus potential. On the plus side peat absorbs urine well but therefore always feels slightly damp. However it is a good choice for horse who have had laminitis and once removed from the stable is easy to stock pile as a powerful fertiliser with just 3 weeks fermenting required.
Garnering popularity, pellets are compressed from conifer needles or straw to create a neat bedding alternative that is free from any nasties. Pellets also have a good urine absorption so create a clean bed area and are considered healthy for hooves and lungs as well as other health issues. Disposal is also easy as the mess created will biodegrade fast and the waste matter can be used as a composing material
We consider the absorption of waste products as one of the key issues in maintaining good stable health. A damp stable is a breeding ground for bacteria and disease, so by selecting a good combination of bedding materials and ensuring good ventilation and roofing materials you can create the healthiest home for your horse.