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Deep bedding with straw - a question!

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  • Deep bedding with straw - a question!

    I use straw and make a very deep bed. I found using MORE straw meant LESS waste.

    I love straw. Easy to clean and comfortable, but MUST be used in a deep bedding matter IME.

    I think in Europe they deep bed and just pick the poop on top through the winter and add straw as they go. I don't think that's feasible in my case, just because you can't get a tractor in the stalls.

    However, I was wondering if there could be an in-between solution; ie. pick-out the top during the weekdays, and dig for the pee spots on the week-end.

    Has anyone tried this? If so, how did it work? How much time did it take you to do the job on week-ends?

    I have two boarders who want to work-off part their board so I am trying to think up solutions to give them work!

    Thanks in advance
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  • #2
    I think one of the reasons the deep litter system works is that it builds up significantly and actually produces some heat as what's underneath begins to decompose. I'm not sure you would get the same effect cleaning it weekly. I don't have a ton of experience with straw but it sounds like it could work - experiment for a month or so -

    I don't think most stalls are tractor accessible - the barn aisle, yes, but you have to do a lot of shoveling - that would keep your boarders busy!

    Comment


    • #3
      I tried the "deep bedding/deep litter" system one winter, & my husband said that if I ever tried it again, he'd divorce me - lol!

      Yes, it's initially nice to just pick out poop, scatter some fresh straw, & hang up your fork. But that Spring-time/Big-time cleanout is just too back-breaking. Trust me. You won't want to ever have to do that again.

      And while I've never tried the method on a weekly basis, I can't help but feel that it wouldn't work all that well. Instead of a deep bed with decomposition going on in just the lowest level, you'd most likely have a weekly ammonia-fest. But again - haven't tried it, so can't give first-hand experience.

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      • #4
        I've used straw in stalls that were touched up and completely stripped/cleaned once a week. I did it at an equine surgery center that I worked at so the stalls HAD to be clean. We threw down a lot of Sweet PDZ, picked twice a day, and of course with a mat floor it was reasonable to strip it once a week.

        I really liked straw-the stalls I did were for mares/foals that were born at the clinic. Straw was very warm and clean. The mares usually had a pee corner so I could clean that spot more thoroughly on a daily basis...sometimes I'd throw some shavings/pdz in the pee corner under the straw and that worked well.

        Right now I'm throwing straw in my stalls and just turning it over quickly-I'm not bedding deep by any means. I have dirt floor stalls and just wanted enough straw to give the horses a warm dry spot during a long stretch of cold rain. Stripped it out after a week or so and rebedded.
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
          I've used straw in stalls that were touched up and completely stripped/cleaned once a week. I did it at an equine surgery center that I worked at so the stalls HAD to be clean. We threw down a lot of Sweet PDZ, picked twice a day, and of course with a mat floor it was reasonable to strip it once a week.
          That's exactly what I'd do! How long did it take you to strip it once a week?
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          • #6
            I have been in barns that did true deep litter and ones that do 'false' deep litter.
            The true deep litter barn was in Ireland. The stalls were concrete but the stall floor was 1' lower than the alleyway. All winter straw was added to stalls and manure was picked. This compacted in the base and the horse's bed slowly came up to be level with the alleyway. In the spring, they drove a tractor through the stalls (each divider came out) and cleaned them right out and started over with shavings for summer. I think it worked better with straw as the shavings sometimes seemed damp on top but there was no amonia smell in either case.

            I've been to another barn that has the same system but the concrete is level to the stalls and they have rubber mats down. This barn deep litters with straw for about 2-3 weeks then cleans with tractor. Since the straw can not compact and the urine sits on the mats for those three weeks, the amonia smell in this barn is horrendous. It is in a very cold climate, so the barn is heated and even though they have fans and an industrial air system the smell is alarming.
            I don't think it works unless you have wood/dirt floors or have a signifigant depth to work with like my example above.

            Comment


            • #7
              When I was in England at the Yorkshire Riding Center, most stalls were bedded with straw. One was the deep litter method, but all others were mucked daily and then "skipped out" several more times. For the regular stalls, we were taught to leave a small amount of slightly soiled straw as the bottom layer (about 4 - 6 inches, iirc). Unsoiled and fresh straw went on top of this. The perimeter of the stall had a squared off bank of packed straw almost a foot higher than the interior. The reason for keeping the under layer of "used" straw was to minimize the slipperiness of the fresh straw (there were no mats). In the three months I was there, we never completely stripped a stall.

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              • #8
                oh not all that long, I had a big rubbermaid cart and the most time consuming part of the job was pushing that thing to the muck pile. I used a big scoop snow shovel and filled the cart in just a few scoops and then had a long push in the snow... I had to wash the walls and disinfect the entire stall so it was spotless... I was further hampered by poor stall design where there was a two inch lip around the entire stall so you couldn't just broom/squeegee out the water, you had to "bounce" it over the lip into the barn aisle for the drain. I'm sure I never took more than 45 minutes to do the entire thing. Not counting time outs for foal petting and playing.



                None of the straw stalls stunk as badly as the shavings stalls; maybe there is a chemical reaction there or something but they really bothered me. I like straw.
                “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                  oh not all that long, I had a big rubbermaid cart and the most time consuming part of the job was pushing that thing to the muck pile. I used a big scoop snow shovel and filled the cart in just a few scoops and then had a long push in the snow... I had to wash the walls and disinfect the entire stall so it was spotless... I was further hampered by poor stall design where there was a two inch lip around the entire stall so you couldn't just broom/squeegee out the water, you had to "bounce" it over the lip into the barn aisle for the drain. I'm sure I never took more than 45 minutes to do the entire thing. Not counting time outs for foal petting and playing.



                  None of the straw stalls stunk as badly as the shavings stalls; maybe there is a chemical reaction there or something but they really bothered me. I like straw.
                  LOL, you won't be able to lift a snow shovel full of real deep litter on the wheel barrel.

                  Anyhow, I used to keep my horse 'deep litter', adding straw every night, stripping once a week. Depending on the size of the stall and flooring, and how much a mess the horse made, completely stripping took about an hour.

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                  • #10
                    well, that could be true, as I said it was in a vet clinic and there were mats down. I'm not comparing it to the real deal though I am incubating the real deal in my barn right now... plus you don't know how strong I really am.

                    The dairies around here all use real deep litter methods in their 3 sided shelters-they bust out round bales of straw one upon the other, TONS of straw, and those cows sit on it and crap on it and cook it all winter long while the farmer reloads and in the spring the farmer gets out his excavator and sells a lot of compost. It's a beautiful thing.
                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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                    • #11
                      hyper post
                      “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When I lived in Holland the barn cleaned out the stalls once a week. They had slider walls and brought in a tractor to clean out the old.

                        I am not a fan of it. I think it smells like ammonia too much and horses smell better than we do.
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                        • #13
                          I only worked in one farm that bedded this way. Never thought the ends justified the means. I understand why dairy farms do it but we are talking horses not cows. If you are going for the composting warming effect I just don’t see it happening with horses. Especially in a cold weather climate. Seems to me by the time it really started decomposing and throwing off heat it will be spring. Don’t see it doing much for the horse unless it is being stalled the majority of a 24 hour day. It will give better foot cushioning. But as others have said you will be lifting some pretty heavy loads after a week of a horse compacting layer after layer. We only bed on straw, Start with about 2 bales of long stem in a 12x12 mucked out daily adding about 1 bale per day. Most of our horses are out all day. Takes us/help about 15 minutes per stall. Though we have some that always make their deposits in the same corner. Thinking about just putting a muck bucket there.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            just wanted to comment on this thread. I use something in between.... we have dirt floors and use straw - we deep bed and bank, pick put poo/pee spot daily - and during winter never strip.... just add more straw so horse always have clean straw and underneath decomposes to add warmth.

                            i have to admit that as a total obsessive about stall cleaning, it has taken me a while to "let go" and allow it to work.

                            It does not smell unless you are stripping to the floor. it is comfy and the horses love to snuggle down.

                            we also use pellets for really bad pee areas... that seems to really help too

                            my only question is: how do folks compost their straw? what does the end product look like and how long does it take? It seems the compost pile goes thru some really weird stages but just thought i'd ask!

                            oh and one thing i learnt - bed deep. and bank.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mbm View Post
                              just wanted to comment on this thread. I use something in between.... we have dirt floors and use straw - we deep bed and bank, pick put poo/pee spot daily - and during winter never strip.... just add more straw so horse always have clean straw and underneath decomposes to add warmth.

                              i have to admit that as a total obsessive about stall cleaning, it has taken me a while to "let go" and allow it to work.

                              It does not smell unless you are stripping to the floor. it is comfy and the horses love to snuggle down.

                              we also use pellets for really bad pee areas... that seems to really help too

                              my only question is: how do folks compost their straw? what does the end product look like and how long does it take? It seems the compost pile goes thru some really weird stages but just thought i'd ask!

                              oh and one thing i learnt - bed deep. and bank.
                              to tell you the truth, I never wondered about that.
                              We just piled on, I think my cousin mixed it up with the front loader now and then, then they loaded up the spreader and out it went.


                              but - as all compost, it should be nice and crumbly at the end...only the outer layers shouls show signs of what it started out as.

                              If the pile does 'funky' stuff it probably needs to be aired.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I am about to bed my mare/foal stall with straw (first time with a baby - first time using straw) - her stall is a dirt floor with mats. From what I've read above, should I remove the mats and bed deep on the dirt floor? Or would it be okay to leave the mats with shavings/pellets on top and then add a deep layer of straw to that?
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                                • #17
                                  I use this method for both my 2 milk cows and my goats. Part of it is a way to use wasted hay ( by the goats) during the winter as bedding and part of it is my laziness. In any case it does work. The cows have a larger area of wet soiled bedding at times and the goats do not. I do remove the upper wet portions on the cows beds when I see them (and they are steaming & hot) so they do get very warm when they are damp and must be removed then. I wouldn't be surprised if it caught fire eventually if left alone. Then I just fluff up the bed and add some newer cleaner hay to the top and move on.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    for a foal i think i might leave the mats but disinfect them thoroughly then add enough straw to make a nice comfy bed.

                                    it will be softer and less wet if you take the mats out - but you have no idea what bacteria etc is in the dirt.....

                                    also, i would not deep bed a foal. they need super clean bedding ...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      This discussion is making me want to try this method in my stalls....but I don't think it'd be feasible at all, at least in the secondary barn. Plus, we have no way of getting a tractor in there, so it would be awful when it did come time to strip things.

                                      I've never been to a barn that did straw bedding - can anyone share pics?
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                                      • #20
                                        fwiw, we use straw and clean pretty much like "normal" we dont bring the tractor in to scrape. So it is possible to bed deeply and in the winter let some of it decompose and not scrape with a tractor. it i s not really that much work.

                                        Cleaning straw is a PITA in the beginning.. it takes time to learn how to do it and i struggled lol! but now i am fairly proficient at it and i love straw.

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