Straw bedding question
We are moving to a new barn in 6 days! Can't wait for some quality care! My question is this: the new barn primarily uses straw bedding. I have a large pony who sucks up hay better than a vacuum. They mentioned that they can use shavings if we think it may be a problem. Should I try her on straw so she is like all the other horses boarded there? Has anyone ever had a problem with it - meaning do your horses ever eat it? OR should I ask them to prepare her stall with shavings prior to our arrival? We are arriving at the new barn in the early evening. I can only imagine seeing her in the am with no bedding because she ate it all! The new barn generously beds the stalls too. Thoughts?
I have known of horses who ate the straw bedding,
especially oat straw which is more palatable than
wheat straw. I have not had any personal friends
whose horses sickened from doing that although I
have heard of one horse who impacted and another
My own choice would be to initially bed on shavings
and test putting some straw in the stall after the horse
has been there for a period to see if your pony will
try to eat the bedding or leave it alone.
IMHO, give her a shot on the straw from the start. They all try it the first night , then settle down. If she is still eating it after a week, switch her to shavings.
If you start with shavings, and add a little straw, imho- they are more likely to think they are supposed to eat it.
I use straw here for all the horses. They sometimes nibble at it a bit but I've never had a problem with anyone eating it. I'd definitely give it a shot. It makes a lovely clean bed for horses and IMO is superior to wood products for bedding. I find straw a lot less dusty than shavings or sawdust for one thing.
The only time I ever see horses nibbling on their straw is when there is nothing else to eat. Throw them an extra flake of hay and they always eat that instead of the straw.
Wish I could remember where I saw the reference on this study, but some university somewhere found that horses stabled with straw bedding "interacted" with their bedding a much large percentage of the time than with shavings, reducing the amount of time spent bored and learning to crib, windsuck, weave, or kick the walls. That's assuming your pony will be in the stall much.
They were generally very positive about straw bedding, and I don't recall any concerns about the horses eating some of it.
I'm bedding on barley straw this year, because I got it free from the neighbor. One pony is eating it, the other is not. You just have to try and see. If she does eat it, I suggest you get it tested for WSC. When grown under stress, leftover WSC may stay in the stems.
Mine have always chosen the hay, free-choice, with one exception. (fyi haven't had a pony though, and many at the barn are bursting at the seams on very little hay with shavings for bedding lol) I got a load of the most beautiful, clean straw, and even one picky eater ate the seeds off the top of some of her bedding. Not much though, just tasting, and after a day didn't even bother anymore. My guess is it depends on the quality of the straw, and the availability of hay fed.
I agree with Joied in that if you start with shavings and then add a bit of straw on top, it will appear to be her rations. I'd do the shavings, then see if another horse could switch stalls for a while when you are there, to see how the pony reacts. Tasting and checking it out is one thing, eating a bunch of high quality straw with seed tops is another. You may end up with a very fat pony at the least lol.