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Bedding Pros and Cons


horse stall matStraw
Straw is very commonly used as stall bedding and tends to be preferred for mares and young foals. You must be careful, however, as some horses will happily eat straw bedding and this can cause a problem if you are trying to keep your horse on a diet. Different straws may be more absorbent, but they may also be tastier. If you choose to use straw, be sure that it is dust and mold free- especially as your horse may eat it. It is heavy to clean and difficult to separate the dirty bedding from clean. An average stall should easily be covered by two bales of straw, however, you may want to add extra if you have a mare that will be foaling or in case of cold weather.

Shavings and Sawdust
Another popular bedding is shavings, these can be purchased by truckload or by bag at a feed store. You must purchase a shaving fork if you go with shavings in order to pick out manure without removing too much bedding. It is better to go with softwood shavings and avoid black walnut. Research what shavings are good for horses and always ask what the wood is if you buy from a lumber mill or local woodworker to avoid picking up something that will cause an adverse reaction. Sawdust is also used, but horses with respiratory problems should not use this bedding as it tends to be dusty. A good four inches of bedding is ideal for a stall.

Wood Pellets
These are compact and dehydrated wood shavings that will need a little water to help them expand into soft and useable bedding. They are easy to clean and are less wasteful than some other forms of bedding. They are also, however, more expensive than wood shavings; you will have to balance the cost of wood shavings against the savings from using wood pellets and wasting less during cleaning.

If you're worried about your horse eating its bedding, paper may be ideal for you. Used paper can provide a soft bed but is heavy when soiled and can cause skin allergies in sensitive horses. It should be tried out before a solid commitment is made to using it.

Stall Mats
All horse owners should consider purchasing stall mats. Though the upfront cost is a bit heavy, over time you will save money as the mats require less bedding on top of them and can offer comfort and help keep animals warmer in the winter as they won't be resting on shavings that are sitting on cold, icy concrete. They are also easy to clean.

Though many may be tempted to use old hay for bedding, it is not recommended as horses will eat any hay that is available. Old hay can be very dusty and moldy which will lead to a variety of lung problems. It also begins to ferment quickly when soiled and must be cleaned out as quickly as possible. It is difficult, like straw, to clean and should be avoided unless there is no other option.


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