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Stable Bedding

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  • Stable Bedding

    I am considering changing how we bed our stables as wood shavings/sawdust seems to be quite hard to source right now due to the bushfires here in Australia.

    I had a quick look online to see what might be available and found various types of pelleted wood which has to be gotten wet in order to fluff-up, cardboard pellets and hemp pellets. All sound good, of course. None of them are available locally so I will have to order by the pallet.

    Has anyone used any of this type of stuff in your stables? (I did try to search the forum but can't seem to work that out!)
    I have to do a bit more research because it seems to me that if sawdust is hard to get, won't the wood-based pellets be as well? But maybe it's different, I have no idea.

    I have 5 large stables so I would like to try something that isn't time-consuming to maintain on a daily basis. One of the products said to turn it over daily, which since I am the chief (only) stable mucker-outer would get old quick!

    I could turn the horses out 24/7 but because of the drought conditions, find the paddocks stay healthier if I spell them routinely and get the horses off the ones they are using for part of the day. Right now, they are in during the day and out at night. There is nothing really in the paddocks so I am feeding them 2x a day, as well as ad lib hay.

    Thanks so much!

  • #2
    We use wood pellets. They do need water to fluff up initially but the fine particles are like unto sawdust, are easy to sift and make for a quicker job mucking than straw or shavings. And they take up less storage room.


    • #3
      I use wood pellets, too. I add a bit of water with the initial setup but don't add any water going forward. It's a fast stall to clean, the waste composts quickly, and storage is easy.

      With four horses that are in overnight, I go through just over four pallets (pallet=50 40# bags) a year.

      Some brands are dusty, but most are not.


      • #4
        I have recently gone to flax bedding. If that is available to you it is worth checking out. I really like it.


        • #5
          I have four horses and use sand in my stalls. But, my stalls were dug out two feet, packed with gravel, topped with a layer of clay so the moisture (I assume) drains down. Sand works well for me because my horses are out most of the time --come in to eat, then back out. I've been using sand for three years now. I've added sand once (six tons) as every time the stall is cleaned or the barn swept, a little goes outside. My barn help loves it. The horses sleep on it in the summer -no so much in the winter. I keep horses in more in the summer with fans on them, so maybe there's just more opportunity.

          You have to get the "right" sand --my friend tried it without success. She said it was terribly dusty. But the "sand man" who delivers for me told me there are different kinds --fine and coarse--he suspected she bought the fine sand.. Mine is not dusty.

          Another factor is mats --you can't use them with sand ---the urine pools since it can't sink down. I do spread PEDZ in the stalls now and then --when they smell bad --but have only used four bags in two years.

          Shoer (who suggested sand) said it is great on their feet. He shoes at some up-scale barns that use sand, so when I was looking for a "better bedding" suggested that.

          Last, some people think sand bedding leads to sand colic. I'd check with my vet, but many of the people I compete with (Mounted Archery) are from desert locations (AZ). I am in Indiana. The people who live on sand and keep their horses on sand (because that's what there is where they live) said that they don't have trouble with sand colic. So far, I have not had a problem --but I feed my hay outside.

          As with any bedding change, it would be ideal to "try it in one stall" before changing all. Anyway, sand works for me.


          • #6
            I love my pelleted wood bedding, it's all I've used in my barn for 16 years. Many boarding barns here use them as well, as they reduce what ends up in the manure bins/spreaders. They must be done "right" to be effective as bedding, and that means careful cleaning and setting up of a stall originally. You cannot use one bag per stall and call it good. I follow the bag instructions when starting with a bare stall: 4-6 bag, water poured on to "fluff" the pellets into a mix of whole pellets and sawdust. This bedding is very absorbent and pee spots clean up like cat litter-- scoop them out, and sift the poop, push bedding together and add a bag or two a week, depending on horse.
            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


            • #7
              We've also used pelleted bedding for a very long time. Initially, we did a test, with a somewhat messy horse bedded with the pellets, and a tidy horse on the shavings that we'd been using. Hands down, it was faster and easier to pick the pelleted stall, even though the horse was a checkerboard pooper.

              Friend tried the cob-based bedding, but her horses ate it. Another friend tried the shredded paper bedding, and it sure seemed like a pain to deal with. Have never seen the flax bedding.


              • #8
                "checkerboard pooper"
                I have one of those!

                I use (pine)pelleted bedding.
                Like Simkie a 50-bag pallet of 40# bags lasts me 3mos+, for 3 horses - horse, pony, mini.
                Horses are out 24/7 with free access to stalls.
                They come in, on their own, to be fed & in bad weather.

                In warm weather I do dampen the pellets by standing a bag upright in a stall, slitting open at the top & dump in a bucket of water.
                By the time I finish picking a stall, pellets are about halfway saturated.
                With temps below 40F, I do not dampen, just dump.
                Horses' weight pulverizes completely in a couple days.

                My stalls are based with hardpacked decomposed granite called Crusher Run here.
                No mats.
                I do not follow instructions on the bag.
                I start a stripped 12X12 stall with 4 bags, then add pellets as needed.
                Averaging a bag every other week per stall.

                Pellets compost very quickly & make a great addition to gardens

                Caveat on corncob bedding:
                I used this & liked it for around 6mos.
                Only to have one of my horses develop RAD.
                Changing to pellets - +3mos of Clenbuterol - resolved his symptoms.
                Google told me dairy cattle developed respiratory problems from a bacteria in corncob bedding.
                Other horse had zero problems with the corncobs & neither ate them.

                Foxglove interesting on the sand.
                Does it harden in Winter and if so, can you rake it to fluff?
                Last edited by 2DogsFarm; Jan. 25, 2020, 03:36 PM. Reason: Typo
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I do use sand in their yards, which are attached to the stables. I got lots of advise about NOT using it because of the risk of sand colic which I ignored because I am not feeding on the sand. No issues with it at all.

                  I don't think we have corn cob bedding here. I am happy to see that you are all happy with your choices so I will investigate cost and availability and go with that!


                  • #10
                    I would think sand would be very, very cold. . . .so it wouldn't surprise me that horses wouldn't want to lay down on it
                    in winter.


                    • Original Poster

                      One more question . . . I was talking to another transplanted American here and she just used the same pellets they used in their pellet stove? That doesn't sound right. Is there a difference?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ozjb View Post
                        One more question . . . I was talking to another transplanted American here and she just used the same pellets they used in their pellet stove? That doesn't sound right. Is there a difference?
                        Wood pellets for burning may contain woods that harm hoofed animals but they are commonly used in the PNW when bedding is hard to find/the store runs out. They are pretty much the same as pelleted bedding.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ozjb View Post
                          One more question . . . I was talking to another transplanted American here and she just used the same pellets they used in their pellet stove? That doesn't sound right. Is there a difference?
                          If they have any walnut in them, you're in trouble. They generally do not list all of the species of wood that the stove pellets contain.
                          When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou