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Equine Bedding Materials

You can often save money by buying shavings in bulk if you know what you're buying and have adequate covered storage.

Have you often wondered about other bedding materials for your horse? Would you like to try something that's less dusty or easier to store in your barn and shed? Maybe you're interested in perfecting your compost pile and would like to know how your choice of equine bedding plays into that? We'll walk you through the choices of equine materials and the criteria for choosing the horse bedding that will work best for you and your horse .

Our Bedding Criteria

• Safe for horses
• Readily Available
• Absorbent
• Composts Well
• Easy to store
• Easy to handle and pick manure from
• Not too dusty
• Cost-effective

The word "bedding" is a bit of a misnomer in the horse world. Many of us horse owners think we need to bed our stalls as we would have our own beds - soft and fluffy. But horses by nature don't need a soft, fluffy bed, unless there are particular concerns, such as old horses who might lie down frequently or stay down for longer periods of time. The primary purpose of bedding is to absorb urine and moisture.

But absorbing urine isn't the only factor. We'll need to consider:

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• The space you have available to house your horse
• Where and how you will store your bedding
• Whether you or your horse have allergies that dust will aggravate
• How you will manage your waste disposal
• The availability of different beddings in your part of the country
• The cost and cost-effectiveness of various beddings

So given that, here are your choices and how they stack up.

Shavings
Nothing quite looks and smells like a stall freshly bedded with traditional shavings of pine or fir. While shavings smell wonderful, they aren't very absorbent and may not be your best choice.

Different types of shavings are more absorbent than others. Kiln-dried shavings with a lower overall moisture content will be better than heavier and more chip-like shavings.

Shavings, particularly loose shavings, are also notoriously dusty, creating a layer of dust on everything from you and your horse to the walls of your barn. In order to avoid equine respiratory problems (and a potential fire hazard when layers of fine wood particles build up), you need good ventilation in a barn when using loose shavings, as well as attention to keeping cobwebs and dust layers reduced.

You will save money buying loose shavings in bulk instead of bagged shavings, but you will require a shavings bin or other storage area. It is best to have the bin area located away from your barn to avoid the dust problem. Be sure this area is easily accessible year-round by delivery trucks. Bagged shavings are costly, but easier to use, convenient to store and are far less dusty.

Cedar bedding is not recommended because it resists decomposition. Also, a very small percentage of horses are allergic (skin sensitivity) to cedar.

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