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  1. #1
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    Wink And the BEST bedding is?

    OK. I've seen threads on different types of bedding- pellets, straw, shavings, and hybrids of each- but, here is the thing. Based upon ease of cleaning, economy of purchase, economy of cleaning (do you have to throw out a bunch?), which bedding do you prefer- by type, and brand.

    I have been using pelleted bedding mixed with/underneath of shavings. I prefer what they call "green label shavings" which is a paper bagged product that is a smaller flake with just a touch of sawdust to them. However, I cannot always find them. And, not always reasonably, when I do locate them.

    I like the "Equine Fresh" pellets, but I hate driving to TSC to get them. So, I usually settle for what is easy to get delivered- Woody Pet. I don't like it near as well.

    So, where do you all line up on this?
    When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
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  2. #2
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    Dec. 14, 2007
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    I have tried every bedding known to man and THEN some (as that is how I earn my living ...) and there are some great ones out there and some awful ones and eveything in between

    I tried the BestCobs bedding and hated everything about it, but my sister ran a test stall with it and loved it. She and I are pretty well the same in how we muck out stalls so I am still puzzled as to why she thought so highly of it and I didnt. She is coming up to week 4 and just added a new bag of bedding this weekend so THAT in itself is very impressive ...

    I love the pelleted straw bedding as it is very easy to muck out, breaks down quickly (2-4 weeks) and you only generally add 4-6 bags with normal useage to each stall each month. Plus you take out so little from each stall that your manure pile is a good 1/3 - 1/2 the size as it would be with shavings. You just need to get used to the slightly darker colour of the bedding itself

    Probably my favorite mix of bedding of all is the smaller particle, granular wood bedding mixed 1:4 with the EcoStraw pellets. Visually it makes it look lighter and fluffier and the EcoStraw holds the urine in place and doesnt allow it to flow into the good, dry bedding. Its about the best, most cost effective and urine/manure effective mix you could possibly have

    I hate peat moss. Hate the dark look of it, hate the black flim it leaves on everything, but again - it does break down very very quickly so it has that going for it at least!

    I love the look of those nice big fluffy shavings but its a PITA to muck out - BIG time - it takes up to 3 years to fully decompose and the availability is getting to be less and less and the cost to maintain a stall is extremely high.

    Wood pellet bedding will get scarcer and scarcer over the next few years as more and more of the production here in North America is shipped overseas to meet the Kyoto protocols in those countries to assist them in amassing their Carbon Credits. I have tried several of the different brands and found - IMO - that for the first 3-4 weeks it was perfectly acceptable and worked very well, but then "turned" in that 4th-5th week, necessitating gutting the whole stall and starting from scratch once again

    We have a product here that is made from recycled, scrap skids and its another product that I hate. The particles are marge enough that they dont absorb worth a darn and there is NO way of knowing if there is any chemical residue on the skids before they get shredded so no thanks!

    Hemp may be making a comeback here in Ontario and once it does, I'd love to run some test stalls with it and the other products I'd love to try that comes out of NC is the pelleted cardboard bedding and the shredded cardboard bedding that comes out of PA and the double cut shredded paper bedding as well if I could find any!

    I'd love to try rice hulls but the availability would be nil around here. We are looking into producing a bedding product from the shredded hulls of soybeans which is in plentiful supply in this area so that may be something that may be available in the near future if we find it is absorbent and performs well. Millet is another crop in this area and again - we are looking into seeing if we can use some part of the scrap plant to produce bedding that would otherwise simply be ploughed back into the ground once again



  3. #3
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    Jan. 16, 2002
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    West Coast of Michigan
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    Guardian's Swift-Pick shavings, with TSC's Equine Fresh pellets a close second, and perfect for using with the Guardian on the wet spots.

    Why the Guardian shavings beat my beloved pellets: no soaking, they don't freeze, and they're a dollar per bag cheaper.
    Click here before you buy.



  4. #4
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    I use/like the Guardian Swift Pick also but would not if I had horses in for a long time or a horse on stall rest - I learned with Killian that it is much more abrasive when they are down than the fluffy shavings. If I ever had another horse stuck in the stall who had to lay down a lot , I would switch to the big fluffy shavings even tho' they are a pita to muck out.

    I would like to try them mixed with a pelleted product this winter - is that what you do, DW?
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
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    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  5. #5
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    I think the best bedding depends on what you are using it for. For me...with mares and foals hands down straw is the best bedding. It is cleaner and healthier for the foal than any wood product. I also find straw to be very easy to muck and like that horses can't mix it up like shavings or sawdust.

    For some horses straw is an awful choice if they eat it for example or if they have allergies. Stall walkers are not great on straw either.

    I hate the pelleted bedding. I found it to get very very dusty in a week or so as it broke down. The only use I have for it is in the wet spot of a very wet horse.

    I like nice shavings for some horses but I think the manure takes forever to break down in compost.

    I've tried the cardboard bedding and its' great for a day and then it flattens out. It is outstanding in a horse trailer though as it is not at all dusty and the chunks don't blow around if you leave the window open.



  6. #6
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    Mar. 9, 2006
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    Pelleted, hands down! Ease of use, FABULOUS. Waste, MINIMAL. Absorbency, GREAT. Price, more expensive than bulk, but worth it for the fact it is bagged (less waste than a "shavings bin"), the fact I can pick out with little waste of beeding, great for use in amanure spreader as it is basically sawdust and breaks down quickly. I won't use anything else!!



  7. #7
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    Aug. 26, 2001
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    Oxford PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASB Stars View Post
    . . . . Based upon ease of cleaning, economy of purchase, economy of cleaning (do you have to throw out a bunch?), which bedding do you prefer- by type, and brand. . . .
    I'm glad you defined "best". But I have to say that I think "best" means the bedding that the horses like the most ... the bedding that they show they like by lying down in it more than other beddings ... the bedding that horses choose when they can choose between several stalls with different bedding ... the bedding that can be shown to provide the best insulation from a cold, hard floor. It doesn't seem to me that ease of cleaning, economy of purchase & so on are really very important in the big scheme of horse keeping. What counts is what makes the horse comfortable. It's pretty sad when people put their own ease ahead of the horse's.



  8. #8
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    Mar. 9, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evalee Hunter View Post
    I'm glad you defined "best". But I have to say that I think "best" means the bedding that the horses like the most ... the bedding that they show they like by lying down in it more than other beddings ... the bedding that horses choose when they can choose between several stalls with different bedding ... the bedding that can be shown to provide the best insulation from a cold, hard floor. It doesn't seem to me that ease of cleaning, economy of purchase & so on are really very important in the big scheme of horse keeping. What counts is what makes the horse comfortable. It's pretty sad when people put their own ease ahead of the horse's.
    I guess I don't really agree with this train of thought. Horses can and do regularly lay down on hard bare ground out in the field. When given a choice, mine are laying in the hard dirt areas rather than the soft grassy areas. I don't think horses idea of "comfort" is the same as ours. Mine lay down just fine in the pelleted bedding I use over mats. I do generaously spary the bedding with water prior to use, but I don't think the big flaky shavings are any more preferable, to a horse, than what they have now.



  9. #9
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    Aug. 26, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawneeAcres View Post
    I guess I don't really agree with this train of thought. Horses can and do regularly lay down on hard bare ground out in the field. When given a choice, mine are laying in the hard dirt areas rather than the soft grassy areas. I don't think horses idea of "comfort" is the same as ours. Mine lay down just fine in the pelleted bedding I use over mats. I do generaously spary the bedding with water prior to use, but I don't think the big flaky shavings are any more preferable, to a horse, than what they have now.
    Well, I agree that horses ideas of comfort is not the same as human ideas of comfort - on the other hand, our cave dwelling ancestors probably didn't have the same ideas of comfort that we have.

    Anyway, horse's bedding preferences have been researched. All the studies I have read have found horses have a strong preference for straw as bedding.

    I do not know why horses choose to lay on dirt rather than grass but it could be as simple as that the dirt is warmer from the sun (being darker colored) than the grass. I really do believe that horses (& other animals) have a reason for what they do, even though the reason may not be evident to us.

    I still think your ATTITUDE is sad - your attitude that the horse's preference or comfort is not as important as your preference or comfort.



  10. #10
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    For me - I'll go with pellets based on your criteria. I can carry the bags easily, they absorb so well there's little to throw out (economical), they seem to pack better than shavings which sort of slide away when the horse lies down and leave bare matting, they compost well, they sift through the fork well and fluff up amazingly if enough water is put on them to pre-wet them.

    For luxury, looks and feel - I don't think you can beat crisp, springy, short cut, shiny fresh straw, on top of pelleted bedding for absorption.



  11. #11
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    Sep. 7, 2006
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    WNY
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    I love pelleted bedding. I was using Equine Fresh from TSC, but found we could get Magnum brand pellets for about 50 cents less per bag if we bought by the pallet. I felt the EF pellets puffed up more readily, but the Magnum pellets seemed to puff up MORE. I usually add water directly to the bag, since I don't strip the stall all the way, so no point in watering the already-puffed bedding. I tried not adding water to begin with this last time (put the pellets on the mats, then tossed the broken-down bedding on top, so my horse wouldn't be directly on hard pellets). It didn't work the way I wanted it to, and in the future I'll puff my pellets before adding them.

    I find pellets to be more absorbent, easier to clean, and easier to maintain a good thickness of bedding. Shavings seemed to get gross really quickly, and they were harder to pick out. With the pellets, the pee spot clumps and it's easy to get it all out. Errant poo-balls are also easily captured. They are more expensive to start, and more expensive in the long run, but not by much... and I find the convenience and quality of the bedding to be worth an extra $15/month or so.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evalee Hunter View Post

    I still think your ATTITUDE is sad - your attitude that the horse's preference or comfort is not as important as your preference or comfort.
    My "Attitude" is that my horses are VERY comfortable on the bedding I choose. They lay down in it, stretch out and sleep peacefully thank you!



  13. #13
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    Mar. 4, 2008
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    I've never used pelleted bedding. It would be just too expensive because most of my horses are absolute slobs in the stall and grind up the manure into the shavings and spread it all around. It basically has to be stripped every day. Of course it is sometimes because there is a foal in the stall and they definitely trash the stallevery night. So we use wood shavings by the load.

    At foaling time we use oat straw which is the only straw I've seen around here. I do not like it. If the horses are moving around a lot it moves to the outside walls and leaves holes in the middle of the stall. The absolute worst thing about it, IMO, is that it is kinda "sweet" and it attracts flies like nobody's business. I get rid of the straw in a foaling stall as soon as possible, maybe 3 days post foaling. I slowly take it out as it gets dirty and replace with shavings. Straw is also really hard to muck. You can't take just manure, y ou're going to get a forkful of straw too. It's heavy and not absorbent. When they pee in it that spot gets slippery underneath. I don't like it but use it to keep the dust down and provide a healthier foaling environment.
    Altamont Sport Horses
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  14. #14
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    Aug. 26, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawneeAcres View Post
    My "Attitude" is that my horses are VERY comfortable on the bedding I choose. They lay down in it, stretch out and sleep peacefully thank you!
    If you were tired enough, you might "choose" to lie down on the floor of a cave or the roots of a tree and even sleep there. People used to sleep on mattresses stuffed with corn cobs & felt lucky to have that. That does not mean that the floor or corn cobs is the "best" (most comfortable) bed for a human nor does it mean that all humans would get deep & restful sleep on that type of bed, nor would most humans choose the floor or corn cobs over a modern mattress. The same goes for horses - they may not be lying down for the optimal amount of time nor sleeping as much as needed to perform at their highest potential levels. We ask horses to perform amazing athletic feats without taking into account whether we are giving them all that is needed to prepare for those endeavors.

    I will also tell you that we have horses that live outside pretty much 24/7 & we have a number of horses that seem to strongly prefer living outside & all of the horses that live outside in herds are very attached to their herdmates. The horses living out in herds are pretty much never ridden (some are permanently unsound, although comfortable in the pasture).

    But when I ask a horse to spend time in the unatural environment of a stall, and ask that horse to give some type of performance, then I need to ask myself whether there are ways that I can give the horse a more comfortable environment while also being reasonably practical. Providing bedding that has been shown to be preferred by most horses in research experiments is a small thing to do in return for what is asked of the horse.

    A lot of time is spent on this board discussing how to keep the performance horse (or the laid up horse) comfortable in a stall - feeding schedules, choices of feeds & hay, stall toys, sizes of stalls, mats, stall skins, flooring (concrete, clay, stone dust, pea gravel) are all discussed at length on frequent threads. Most of the answers are related to the comfort & pleasure of the horse. BUT ... when we discuss bedding, the human comfort (ease) become paramount. I think it is time to ask ourselves, "why?" Why not put the horse first in the area of bedding?



  15. #15
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Best bedding probably depends on a lot of different things. Such as size of stall, type of manure disposal/handling, size of facility, equine preferrence, budget, etc.
    Straw for foals...more dust free if it's good straw and has a really high insulation rate...it's warmer. However...IMO....makes manure piles gross, doesn't absorb anything and is tough as hell to clean the stall and have it immaculate unless it's almost stripped and restarted. To me cleaning a straw stall is like trying to comb half-melted raisinettes out of long tangled hair with a comb missing half it's teeth.
    Shavings...probably the most common and most loved of beddings. However, costs a bloody fortune to keep a stall bedded *deep* like I prefer mine to be because so much is thrown out all the time if you want to remove all used bedding. Tougher to clean. But it does look pretty and fluffy and smells nice so I'm guessing those are the draws to it. Also takes too darned long to compost down and nobody wants to take manure for fertilizer if it's from shavings bedded stalls. But if you have manure removed on a regular basis then it's no big deal.
    Pellets...what I use. I prefer WP brand...the generic or copycat brands we have available near me are poor substitutes. Wish we had another good type of pellets near me but no such luck yet. The imposter types don't absorb as much or they don;t neutralize the urine fumes like the WP does. I like the WP for the previous listed reasons: Easy to get and keep the stall *clean.* And I don;t mean for my ease of use...I mean getting the stall actually clean, really clean. I have a small property and compost my manure. A neighbor takes my manure pile every other year or so. (for his little vineyard) My manure pile composts well and stays small due to the lack of excess bedding in it. WP also keeps my barn from stinking like urine/ammonia. I abhor a barn stinking like pee...it's bad for the respiratory system. And I can keep the stalls bedded deep so the horses have decent support standing or laying down and when they do sleep they're not flat out urine soaked bedding. The horses seem to adore it, they sleep flat out for long periods of time. I use a bag of bedding per week in the slob's stall and a half bag per week in the neater guy's stall. 6 bags per month on average for 2 horses.
    I haven't tried peat personally. Back when I boarded the barn tried the straw pellets for a short while. They got smelly quick even if they were clean, but the barn had a few marathon urinators so that could have contributed to the ammonia smell.
    I used sawdust growing up. Liked that very well too, as did the horses. Does make for an epic manure pile over time though. Not as epic as shavings but quite a bit more over pellets. But manure pile size aside I thought it was a decent bedding and made a great base support in the stalls. Not tough to clean but had to be cleaned well daily to remove urine to keep the smell down. If the horses were in due to bad weather you'd want to go pick a couple more times those days to get the urine spots out if you want your barn ammonia free. Unless you deep litter bed with sawdust, then there's no urine smell at all until you finally strip the stall. (and then once you break the bottom level up the smell can knock you over, LOL) We did deep litter bedding back then and I liked it just fine. If my barn was set up to have deep litter stalls I'd probably be doing that now. Sawdust can be very cheap if you have a mill nearby but you need to be able to mmove it home and then store it since it doesn't come bagged. And then there's the possibility a huge sawdust pile can combust so you don't want to store a mountain of it at a time or if you do you need to turn it once in a while to keep it cool.
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  16. #16
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    EH- the reason that I use the shavings mixed with the pellets over my rubber mats is to get a better cushion to the stall- the pelleted bedding alone, IMHO, doesn't give me that- and I am just anthropomorhic enough to want truly cushioned stalls.

    Having said that, I also like to have the stalls be easy to clean- you CAN get cushion with pellets, but you wind up putting so much in, that it is a nightmare to clean.

    I loathe straw- I used it when I ran a big boarding barn, because you really have no choice, with regard to disposal of the manure, around here. But I always kept shavings underneath, to keep the stalls dryer.

    Thanks for the input so far...
    When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
    www.americansaddlebredsporthorse.net
    http://www.asbsporthorse.blogspot.com/



  17. #17
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    ASB for a long time I did use pellets and shavings mixed for bedding and I did like it quite a bit. I also did it for the same reason you did...it looked fluffier to me. My mix was about 75% pellets to 25% shavings. Basically I'd start a 10x12 matted stall with 4 bags of WP and activate it and then dump on a bag of shavings on top. Looked lovely and smelled like a big hamster cage, LOL!
    I stopped using the added shavings about 6 months or so ago I think. For a few reasons:
    If I bedded the stalls as deep as I like them it was harder to clean out every shaving piece that was urine soaked and the bedding overall didn't last as long.
    The horses started to get a few urine stains here and there and with plain WP I can bed really really deep and have nobody sleeping in pee.
    My manure pile was growing faster than it was composting and the folks who do take my manure off my property for growing stuff can't use manure with shavings in it.

    My stalls are bedded on the pretty deep side in pellets, and you're right about cleaning them completely is heavy work. Well, not so much cleaning them is heavy since I can pick the manure off the top and then dig out the pee spots but to keep a pelleted stall working right the while thing needs to be either turned or sifted and lifting that much pellets is hard heavy work. But I only have 2 horses so it's not that bad for me plus it's a really good exercise for my arms and shoulders. If I had a bunch of stalls to do though me arms might fall off. My neat horse's stall is started with 7-8 bags of WP and after activated is a good 12-15" deep. My slobby pig-boy's stall is only started with 5 bags of WP because he grinds everything into flat broken up pieces no matter how deep or shallow I bed it. So I bed it somewhere in the middle to reduce wasted bedding while providing him enough support.
    But yes, a deep bedded pellet stall is *heavy* work to sift it all.

    But the shavings mixed with pellets worked pretty well for me for a couple years. Mainly it was the inability to get rid of the manure pile and the extra cleaning with bedding it deeper that made me switch back to pellets only.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  18. #18
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    Jan. 23, 2004
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    I have used a variety of bedding over the years but I really love the sawdust. We get it from a local mill and it is around $30 to fill up a whole dump trailer and the bed of the truck. I can bed deeply and I find it easy to clean. It smells fresh and provides nice cushion on top of the rubber mats. Different mills seem to have different consistencies. One is really fine almost like power while the other mill must cut wetter wood and the chunks are a bit bigger.

    My family has always used straw and I hate a wet straw stall especially when you have messy horses. It creates a huge manure pile and the stalls just never seem dry to me.



  19. #19
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    Jan. 31, 2006
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    Sawdust, sometimes with shavings added for a bit more fluff, sometimes without. It's inexpensive and easy to clean. The downside is storage. Here at my house I had to keep it a great distance from the barn as I had no other choice... which added extra snow removal in the winter. But it's so much cheaper than shavings it's worth it.

    I do like wood pellets dumped in the pee spot for super messy horses as they absorb wonderfully.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    Best bedding probably depends on a lot of different things. Such as size of stall, type of manure disposal/handling, size of facility, equine preferrence, budget, etc.
    Straw for foals...more dust free if it's good straw and has a really high insulation rate...it's warmer. However...IMO....makes manure piles gross, doesn't absorb anything and is tough as hell to clean the stall and have it immaculate unless it's almost stripped and restarted. To me cleaning a straw stall is like trying to comb half-melted raisinettes out of long tangled hair with a comb missing half it's teeth.
    Shavings...probably the most common and most loved of beddings. However, costs a bloody fortune to keep a stall bedded *deep* like I prefer mine to be because so much is thrown out all the time if you want to remove all used bedding. Tougher to clean. But it does look pretty and fluffy and smells nice so I'm guessing those are the draws to it. Also takes too darned long to compost down and nobody wants to take manure for fertilizer if it's from shavings bedded stalls. But if you have manure removed on a regular basis then it's no big deal.
    Pellets...what I use. I prefer WP brand...the generic or copycat brands we have available near me are poor substitutes. Wish we had another good type of pellets near me but no such luck yet. The imposter types don't absorb as much or they don;t neutralize the urine fumes like the WP does. I like the WP for the previous listed reasons: Easy to get and keep the stall *clean.* And I don;t mean for my ease of use...I mean getting the stall actually clean, really clean. I have a small property and compost my manure. A neighbor takes my manure pile every other year or so. (for his little vineyard) My manure pile composts well and stays small due to the lack of excess bedding in it. WP also keeps my barn from stinking like urine/ammonia. I abhor a barn stinking like pee...it's bad for the respiratory system. And I can keep the stalls bedded deep so the horses have decent support standing or laying down and when they do sleep they're not flat out urine soaked bedding. The horses seem to adore it, they sleep flat out for long periods of time. I use a bag of bedding per week in the slob's stall and a half bag per week in the neater guy's stall. 6 bags per month on average for 2 horses.
    I haven't tried peat personally. Back when I boarded the barn tried the straw pellets for a short while. They got smelly quick even if they were clean, but the barn had a few marathon urinators so that could have contributed to the ammonia smell.
    I used sawdust growing up. Liked that very well too, as did the horses. Does make for an epic manure pile over time though. Not as epic as shavings but quite a bit more over pellets. But manure pile size aside I thought it was a decent bedding and made a great base support in the stalls. Not tough to clean but had to be cleaned well daily to remove urine to keep the smell down. If the horses were in due to bad weather you'd want to go pick a couple more times those days to get the urine spots out if you want your barn ammonia free. Unless you deep litter bed with sawdust, then there's no urine smell at all until you finally strip the stall. (and then once you break the bottom level up the smell can knock you over, LOL) We did deep litter bedding back then and I liked it just fine. If my barn was set up to have deep litter stalls I'd probably be doing that now. Sawdust can be very cheap if you have a mill nearby but you need to be able to mmove it home and then store it since it doesn't come bagged. And then there's the possibility a huge sawdust pile can combust so you don't want to store a mountain of it at a time or if you do you need to turn it once in a while to keep it cool.
    What is WP?



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