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Bedding-- how deep?

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  • Bedding-- how deep?

    I'm curious as to others' opinions re: how deep is "just right?" Matted stalls, good-quality absorbent sawdust. Horses on daytime turnout from 7a-4p (weather permitting), stalls picked 1x/day, wet spots removed with a shovel (not just the fork).
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

  • #2
    You're going to hear replies ranging from 2-3" to a foot--and devotees of pelleted, shavings, straw etc. will also have opinions.

    I personally use pelleted bedding, in 12x12 matted (over packed gravel) stalls for horses who are out from 6am to 5pm in the winter, then in all night. I use 3" of pelleted/fluffed bedding, swept to the center--I feed hay in one side (opposite aisle door) and grain/water on the aisle side of the stall. My horses lie down, have no hock sores and stay pretty clean. I clean stalls in the AM, prep and ready for the night.

    On occasion, I'll add bagged shavings--when they are in 24/7 due to ice/extreme weather.

    More bedding does not equal happier or healthier horses. I like that my stalls are easy to clean, stay clean and my horses do, too. And they lie down. Ideally, I'd love to bed them in a ginormous pile of straw over pelleted...but I can't spend the time cleaning nor do I have a place for the ginormous manure pile that would create!
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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    • #3
      My mares are pigs, so they get as little bedding as possible since it'll all be churned to homogenized filth in short order. I have mats over a layer of sand on top of dirt floors, so I really don't need to add any bedding for cushioning.

      Most of the time they just live out, though.
      "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
      -Edward Hoagland

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      • #4
        4ish inches is adequate in my mind, but I prefer 6 or more, and deep banks on the sides. I will NEVER understand the mindset that a little smattering of bedding for a stalled horse is enough. Would YOU want to lay down and rest in a bed wet with your own urine? And, actually, we've just had this discussion this week. One of my boarder's horses has become prone to getting cast over the last year. The owner commented that the mare had never done it before. But, I pointed out that the barn the mare was at prior to this one was VERY chintzy on bedding (a dusting on the floor), and the management prior to me at THIS barn was not a lot better. I came in and got the stalls bedded adequately, and now the mare LOVES to lay down and roll...and get herself stuck. (We're working on a solution).

        Anyway, there should be several inches, definitely. And it IS cheaper. When I took over this barn, the stall guy was putting in half to a whole bag of shavings in every stalll every day. We had 14 horses. I counted for a week. We went through almost 60 BAGS OF SHAVINGS in a week!! I had the stalls bedded up (to my "adequate" level....had to make consessions). We now average about 30 to 40 bags a week (2 to 3 bags a stall).

        Bedding is one instance where less is not more.
        Amanda

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        • #5
          Depends on my horse.

          I have matted stalls with sand/stone underneath.

          My mare NEVER lays down, and I only cover her mats with sawdust enough to soak up any pee spots.

          My gelding is a HOG in his stall, and loves to lay down, so I keep about 4" in his stall at all times.

          They do not come in every night, maybe once a week when the weather is bad in the winter. They are otherwise outside, where they prefer to be.

          When they are in overnight, they're in from 6 PM until 6 AM.
          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

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          • #6
            It all depends on the horse. It is my belief that the messier the horse the less bedding. My reasoning is that a messy horse wastes bedding. I would rather strip a stall then try to sift through a big bed. It takes less time and actually uses less bedding this way. As long as there is enough to absorb the wet and provide protection from what ever flooring you use. A deep bed is more comfortable for us humans than horses. Horses will lie down on hard ground/grass when they are outside. It is all about a level that absorbs and protects. Each horse will require differing amounts.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by snoopy View Post
              A deep bed is more comfortable for us humans than horses. Horses will lie down on hard ground/grass when they are outside. It is all about a level that absorbs and protects. Each horse will require differing amounts.
              I've had a few horses that absolutely loved snoozing laid out in their stalls. It was the only place they would ever lay completely recumbent on their sides and just relax and sleep.

              I could go in their stalls to water and hay, and they might open one eye, but otherwise completely not care that I was in there with them.

              After coming in from their day of turnout, their stall was their bed, and sometimes our big warmblood would lay down and let out this big long groan as he first lay down for the night.

              We bed shavings about four inches. If the horse is a pig, two inches and the remainder goes up on the sides to form banks.

              If a horse is prone to hock sores, we might bed as deep as it needs to prevent them, typically 6 inches.

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              • #8
                4 inches at least for me over mats. Standing in ones urine in underbedded stalls is not healthy, never mind laying down...Horse at the boarding barn who just arrived has disgusting thrush from standing in his own pee on matted stalls with inadequate bedding at the place he just came from. I see this all the time.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tradewind View Post
                  4 inches at least for me over mats. Standing in ones urine in underbedded stalls is not healthy, never mind laying down...Horse at the boarding barn who just arrived has disgusting thrush from standing in his own pee on matted stalls with inadequate bedding at the place he just came from. I see this all the time.
                  The farriers have commented on how much better the horses feet are in this barn since I took over. Proper bedding helps in a variety of ways.
                  Amanda

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                  • #10
                    I use to give my horse a good 3-4" of bedding at shows...

                    But being on stall rest (usually 24/7 turnout horse), he gets about and inch. But he is disgusting in his stall. So I pile most of it in the center and as he spends his day walking, pooping, walking, and churning it all up he ends up spreading the center pile out and makes it a lot easier to clean the "churned" up spots and then just take the fresh shavings from the wall and start the process all over. I was going through 7 bags a week of shavings
                    Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                    Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                    Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                      Would YOU want to lay down and rest in a bed wet with your own urine?
                      Nope, but I wouldn't want to roll in the manure pile either, and my mare thinks that's absolutely delightful

                      And I fail to see how getting cast in the stall regularly is preferable to having no extraneous bedding floating around. Sure, the horse in question likes it, but isn't it more important to be safe? If that's the only difference, it seems like it would be worth reducing the bedding amount for a while to see if that helps.

                      Sure a big pile of fluffy bedding seems nice, but with stall churners like my mares, the reality is that their stalls will never be "clean" unless they've just been stripped. And there's no way I'm going to spend the time or money to do that every day with a huge pile of bedding. This way their stalls are pretty darn clean for at least part of the day, as opposed to being constantly somewhat damp and poopy.

                      Though as I mentioned, my horses live out, so they haven't been in their stalls for more than a couple of hours at a time (waiting for the vet or farirer) for more than a year. They go in once a day for less than 10 minutes to eat their vitamins. So right now their stalls are bedded more deeply because it makes me feel good, and for that short time frame I'm generally nearby so I can swoop in and pick up the poop as soon as it happens, before it gets pulverized. Usually. They're pretty darn fast with the poop blender.

                      Now, if you've got one of those tidy mares that pees and poops along the back wall and leaves it there, you could probably put an entire foot of bedding in the stall and still not have to waste much. But my mares? Dear lord, no.
                      "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                      -Edward Hoagland

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        I'm semi-self-care at my boarding barn, which means I clean my horse's stall daily. The stall is matted, and I keep it bedded light-- maybe 2-3"-- and Horse never has any problems, no thrush, etc. Cleaning is fairly quick and easy (despite the fact he's usually a blender-pig)... When it's bedded deeper, it takes twice as long to clean and I end up wasting A LOT more bedding to get it back to normal.

                        I also work p/t cleaning stalls at a (different) small boarding barn; I bed those stalls as I do my own. BO there is happy with the bedding depth (since wasted bedding is more $$ out of her bottom line!), but those boarders seem to be 50-50 split... some are totally on board with a few inches being OK, but others seem to be of the opinion that 2-3" is tantamount to cruelty.

                        Can't please everyone, I guess...
                        *friend of bar.ka

                        "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          And I fail to see how getting cast in the stall regularly is preferable to having no extraneous bedding floating around. Sure, the horse in question likes it, but isn't it more important to be safe? If that's the only difference, it seems like it would be worth reducing the bedding amount for a while to see if that helps.
                          There are other solutions to the problem then taking her back down to minimal bedding. All the stalls have anti-cast strips, and we may give her a second row (waiting for the BO to yay or nay this...he doesn't love putting holes in the walls). We've got her banked up quite high (about 3ft) right now. If we don't do the second row of strips, we'll keep this method with some modifications, and possibly add an anti-roll surcingle to her wardrobe. I am NOT a fan of denying a horse a comfy spot to rest (which she does A LOT) and will work to find a solution AND keep her well bedded. And, to be clear, while she gets cast more than any horse I've ever known, we're talking 3 or 4 times since January. Not weekly.

                          Cleaning a well bedded stall is an art form, which very few people seem to truly understand. I'm actually pleasantly surprised at how well the guy who does our stalls does. I have some big piggies in the barn, but they get just as much bedding as the rest, and don't need too much more than the rest do to keep up with their mess, either. MAYBE an extra bag a week.
                          Amanda

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            2to 3 inches. I do know someone that beds at least 8 inches. Horses only come in to eat?? Find it kind of strange but that's how she was taught overseas. She thinks mine are way to thin. That said we were at a barn once boarding that didn't clean there very nice WBs stall that often ughhh and only put about an inch in it. Well one day my husband got a call to come help them bury the horse because he slipped on the mats that didn't have enough shavings and was wet with pee and broke his leg in half. Very sad. I usually push the 3 inch mark but it's between 2and 3
                            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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                            • #15
                              I wouldn't bed a stall that is only used to feed a horse the same way I would for a horse that comes in. My old guy lives out, but has a stall that he eats in and he and his geriatric buddy will hang out in the stalls part of the day. In the summer, the stalls go unbedded or very lightly bedded. They do get bedding in the winter because they spend a lot more time hanging inside, and they like to lie down inside when it is wet in the field.
                              Amanda

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Over rubber mats... 8" along the back, 2-3" along ter front 3 or 4 feet. It just sort of migrates that way, plus with the water and hay net being in the front of the stall, that area ruins more bedding faster and has to be stripped out. He lays down in the back on the deeper bedding.
                                Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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                                • #17
                                  horses need deep bedding - preferably straw with banks. cleaning straw is a pita, but the horses are So much happier!

                                  there have even been studies to show that horses prefer straw then pellets then shavings....

                                  if i cant get straw then i use pellets at least 5" deep also banked.

                                  stingy bedding is well - stingy! it costs more, the horses wont lay down, and they end up peeing on themselves.....

                                  not anything i would want for my horses.....

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Definitely depends on the setup. My two mares will NOT lie down in their stalls, no matter how deeply or stingily I bed them. But they have 24/7 access to the outside - either drylot, pasture, or both. They will often lie down in the arena, or in the pasture, so I know they will do it.

                                    I generally bed with fluffed up pellets to about 3" on 1/2 of the stall; the other half just has mats (they can go in and out all day). If they were in all day, I would probably try to increase it to about 4", but I'm not sure more than that *feels* any different to them (with pellets).

                                    I just had a pony on stall rest and gave him pellets with shavings over the top - total depth was about 5-6". The vet suggested deeper bedding, but he really disliked it when the bedding "shifted" underneath his feet (he was laminitic). So while it gave him a great bed to sleep on, it wasn't great for standing.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                                      I just had a pony on stall rest and gave him pellets with shavings over the top - total depth was about 5-6". The vet suggested deeper bedding, but he really disliked it when the bedding "shifted" underneath his feet (he was laminitic). So while it gave him a great bed to sleep on, it wasn't great for standing.
                                      I could see that being the case with the pellets. They don't really compress down and together like deep shavings or sawdust. Had it been 5 or 6 inches of just shavings, he may have been a little more comfortable.

                                      I've never quite understood the popularity of pellets. I've used them once, at a farm I was wintering at one year. I just never really got used to them and never could get the stalls satisfactory to my tastes. And my biggest big got taken off of them and put on shavings, as I couldn't get his stall right AT ALL!
                                      Amanda

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                                      • #20
                                        My horses are in a similar situation--turnout all day, come in for the night between 4 and 6. I'm happy with a couple inches. The mare may get less because she's an absolutely disgusting pig and destroys all her bedding anyway.
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