I started using Guardian bedding last month and both my dog and I have been sick all month with a really bad dry cough and cold. I am not blaming this all on the bedding which is very dry and absorbent but very dusty. I don't generally wear a mask because I hate the feel of it but I just finished cleaning my stalls and am hacking away as I type this.
Any thoughts? Do you wear a mask no matter what? Should I switch bedding? After all if it bothers me, wouldn't it bother my horses?
I was always miserable cleaning stalls with wood shavings. I have bad allergies and asthma. I switched to paper shavings for my COPD horse and haven't been bothered at all. I went home to help my mom one day and almost had an asthma attack while SHE was cleaning the stalls and I was in the barn.
Yup, if it bothers you, it's not good for your horses. I get the low dust shavings in the winter and use Equine Fresh pellets in the summer. They can get a little dusty if it's very dry, so I mist them occasionally (the pellets, not the shavings).
I wet our shavings/sawdust whenever it gets dusty (bulk delivered, so just drag the hose over to the bin and hold my thumb over the end and spray away) I have (carefully!) sprayed them in the stalls also if its getting dusty in the barn.
I figure if it makes me cough/sneeze it can't be good for the horses, and changing bedding type is not an option.
I always wet down the pelleted shavings by cutting open the bags and putting water in them. I just dump yesterday's water buckets in. I cut the bags on three sides of the top and open the bag like a box. This allows the shavings to swell up and eliminates the dustiness.
When I add a bag of the pellets I mix them into the existing shavings very well instead of leaving the new ones on the top. I also try to put some used material into the wet area so that the older material gets wet and replaced.
I agree, if it bothers the horses; it's not good for you. You could also just try a bandana tied over your nose like a holdup was in progress! Or a good dickie/neck cowl/neck gaitor. I love those in the winter. I only have my eyes exposed. Love my fleece/blaze orange/deerhunters neck gaitor with camo on the reverse side. Deciding which to wear out is the highlight of my day!!
Remember tho' that any big change in temperature alone can trigger an asthma attack or wheezing episode. Especially going from warm out to cold. Like leaving the house or getting outa a car. It may not be related to the barn at all but just the temp change. One way to minimize it is to breathe only thru your nose which warms and humidifies your intake air. All other suggestions seemed good to me. I'd try bigger sized bedding like wood shavings or chips instead of sawdust or anything that breaks down and makes a dust cloud.
Make sure you have good barn ventilation when you're stall cleaning. Open all windows/doors and encourage a breeze. Moving air is cleaner air. You'll just have to dress for it!!!
I have tried Guardian's pellets and Statemen from Southern States. Both were VERY dusty. I love using pellets and the first company I was using went out of business. I found a newer brand, Royal Virginian, that is made in VA and it is a great product. I swear by it now. It smells fantastic and the broken down pellet is larger than sawdust, but smaller than shavings. There is almost absolutely no dust too! You may want to see if it's available in your area. It composts quickly too!!