We all love getting into bed and getting comfy, and your horse is no different!
Over time we tend to develop a preference to a particular bedding type but what is best for your horse and where is best to put it?
You should take some time to consider any respiratory issues, absorbency, cost, availability, where it will be stored, feeding and resting behaviours when considering bedding.
The standard way seems to be to have the bedding at the back of the stable with space in front of the door but does this actually work for your horse and their stable? Have a fresh look as it might be best to change this around to ensure your horse is standing on the bedding and also think about where the haynet hangs and if this is causing an issue to bedding.
Try and think about layout and efficiency for mucking out, keep bedding supplies close by and stacked accessibly. Can you muck out straight into a muck trailer as this can save time over wheelbarrowing? Skip out when you can as then the muck out will be a smaller task (you will thank yourself in the long run!).
Always remove the horse from the stable whilst cleaning it, always maintain proper ventilation and aim to keep stables clean and dry.
A way of reducing costs is getting together with others at the yard to buy bedding and items in bulk and share the goods and costs.
Nowadays, a rubber matting is popular and recommended as a base. Alternatively, you could use an absorbent material underneath, such as wood pellets under the straw which is more cost effective than using just wood pellets.
If your horse has no respiratory issues, straw is most commonly used due to it being cost effective and readily available as a bedding. Some disadvantages are that it can be quite dusty and get mouldy in rainy seasons. Also, horse’s might eat straw bedding and as a result impaction colic might be a concern. It can be bulky to store and time consuming when mucking out. Straw is best for foaling as if you are using shavings, if they stick to the foal they can carry a risk of infection if any of the small particles get within the foal or mare.
You can now get straw products with the dust extracted, these clump together when wet which can make mucking out a quicker and easier process.
If you are looking for low or dust free bedding for your horse, there are now many types of products on the market varying in cost. For example:
Benefits - Absorbent, composes quicker than shavings or straw, environmentally friendly and easy to transport and store
Wood chip bedding
Benefits - Readily available, absorbent
Baled, chopped card
Benefits - Can be expensive but light and easy to muck out
Shredded wood fibre
Benefits - Absorbent, high quality, eco friendly and readily available
Benefits - Warm, non-palatable, bales are clean and easy to store
Benefits - Absorbent, light, easy to muck out and breaks down to make compost
The cheapest of the low or dust free bedding options are baled beddings, pellets, wood fibre and wood chip.