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The Best Bed for your Horse

The bedding you use in your horse’s stall affects not just the time spent cleaning it and your finances, but your horse’s health as well. Consider these options before your next trip to purchase bedding. For the infographic click here.

Shavings

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While some types of wood shavings are more absorbent than others, shavings are all among the most popular yet less absorbent bedding options. Shavings with a lower moisture content are more absorbent than those that are more chip-like and have a higher moisture content. Softwood shavings are the most readily available and practical type. Black walnut shavings are low in cost and easily accessible, although they can be toxic to horses and should be avoided as bedding. A drawback to shavings is the dust that they create, potentially causing health problems for your horse and a fire hazard in your barn, making ventilation and barn upkeep crucial. The Cheshire Horse proudly sells quality bagged shavings from Durgin & Crowell Company in Springfield, NH which since its founding in 1976 has grown to become one of New England’s largest manufacturers of kiln-dried Eastern White Pine lumber. Softwood sawdust can also be used as bedding, although it should not be used for horses with respiratory issues, as it can be quite dusty.

2013-09-pelletsWood or Straw Pellets

Wood pellets are made by compressing kiln-dried wood and sawdust. They are three times as absorbent as shavings. The pellets expand back to sawdust when exposed to moisture, although their dust content is much lower than that of traditional shavings. Straw pellets are made by compressing straw. Transportation and storage is easy for both types of pellets, since they are usually sold by the bag. The cleaning of stalls that are bedded with pellets is similar to cleaning a cat’s litter box. It’s best to use rubber mats under the  pellets and to remove only the manure and very saturated pellets. For this reason, the pellets last much longer in the stall than other types of bedding. This is only when the stall is cleaned properly however, and it may take some getting used to. Stalls will require more bags to begin bedding with pellets and then fewer in order to maintain them. A drawback is that in extremely cold climates, the pellets will not absorb moisture well. The Cheshire Horse stocks the following pelleted bedding:

  • WoodyPet: This bedding is made from raw white soft wood shavings and sawdust. 100% biodegradable sterile wood fiber that instantly expands into three times the volume of fluffy sawdust bedding. Learn more at woodypet.com.
  • Barefoot Bedding: This wood pellet bedding is specially formulated with clumping characteristics to reduce manure waste by 50%-70%. Produced locally in New England. Learn more at barefootbedding.com.
  • STREUfex: This pelleted bedding is made from grain straw to create a highly absorbent and virtually dust-free bedding. Easy and efficient cleaning means savings on bedding costs. Learn more at streufex.com.

Straw

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While straw is a very traditional bedding choice, it is not very absorbent. Urine filters through the layer of straw and settles at the bottom of the stall, sometimes creating problems with ammonia accumulation. The straw creates a barrier for manure and urine, and a significant amount of it must be used in the stall in order to create an effective barrier. An advantage to straw bedding is the ability to compost stall waste, often for gardeners, farmers, and mushroom growers. A clear disadvantage is the sheer amount of space needed to store straw bales. Since you’ll go through a lot of it (roughly 5 bales per week), you’ll need a lot in storage. That means dust and mold can become a problem, especially for horses or people with respiratory issues. For horses with weight control problems, straw can be a poor choice since it is edible. Straw is often preferred for those with mares in foal, since it won’t cling to the wet newborn or mare the way small wood particles can with shavings.

2013-09-stall-matsStall Mats

Rubber stall mats provide a firm and level surface that makes stall-cleaning simpler while also providing cushioning for your horse. They are an investment item–expensive to purchase initially, but economical in the reduction of labor, bedding costs, and storage space needed for stall waste. The Cheshire Horse proudly sells The Rubber Man brand stall mats, which are backed by over 15 years of research and hands-on experience. They are manufactured with one purpose in mind: to provide you with the best stall flooring possible. The 100% Re-Vulcanized Rubber Mats from The Rubber Man are made from clean, shredded and natural virgin rubber, free from all foreign materials. This rubber is melted down and re-molded into solid sheets that will not crack, curl, crumble, or experience dry-rot. Mats come 4’x6′ and 100lbs per mat. Learn more at therubberman.com.

Odor Control Products

2013-09-pdzOdor control products often include Zeolite or diatomaceous earth, which are naturally occurring minerals that absorb ammonia and reduce it in the air. They can also help with eliminating odors from any residual urine in the stall left over after bedding is cleared out. Even if there is no noticeable odor to the stall, gases are constantly being released from equine waste that can wreak havoc on your horse’s lungs and respiratory health. The Cheshire Horse carries both Zeolite and diatomaceous earth products:

  • Sweet PDZ: The clinoptilolite (Clino) Zeolite that comprises Sweet PDZ is one of the best at ammonia absorption and odor neutralization. It neutralizes and eliminates harmful ammonia and odors through its natural chemistry, not by covering up the odor with a masking scent. Learn more at sweetpdz.com.
  • Stall DRY Deodorizer: This product is composed of a natural blend of food grade diatomaceous earth and clay in a granular form, which has the ability to neutralize ammonia and absorb odors and moisture. Learn more here.

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