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straw bedding

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  • straw bedding

    So my pony is a known shavings eater. I put her out 24/7 over the summer, didnt worry about it anymore. Well now that the weather is getting nasty, Id like to switch to stall board because there isnt a shelter in the field. We have decided to try straw bedding. She will be getting hay and bedded lightly on straw. Im thinking straw has less of a chance to cause an impaction if she eats it than shavings. She will be getting hay in her stall at night and hay in her field during the day. Im sure she will pick the hay over her straw but when that runs out, she will most likely chow down on her bedding.

    Ive done a search. It seems half think eating some straw is ok and the other half says impaction colic....so im concerned.

    What can I do to prevent her from eating too much. Im thinking about spraying her bedding lightly with dawn soapy water. Also thinking about putting her muzzle on overnight so it slows down her eating her hay and eating straw but she really doesnt like to drink with it on so its not ideal. Any other ideas?

  • #2
    I'd bet that a pony who finds shavings tasty would eat straw.
    Try wood pellet bedding.
    It breaks down into a sawdust consistency that might be non-appealling.
    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


    • #3
      Id probably have to supply it myself, understandbly, and with the addition of stall board prices, Im not sure wood pelletes would fit into my budget. It is certainitly a plan C if straw doesnt work.

      Has anyone had sucess with any types of sprays to make straw or shavings bitter? I could buy chew stop or something like that but thinking soapy water spray would be a lot cheaper. However, soapy water might cause a belly ache too.

      Am I over-thinking this?


      • #4
        I think if she is eating shavings that she would eat straw. I had to move my horse from straw to pellets as she was eating the straw and colicking from the straw.

        Have you thought about bedding the pony on a lower quality hay? That was the next suggestion made to me if my horse ate the pellet bedding.


        • #5
          I don't think you're overthinking it. We switched to straw about 18 months ago and impaction colic was a major concern (they were on shavings before). Luckily (knock on wood) we haven't had a problem with that but they all eat the straw. DD's pony, who is an air fern, ends up going back on shavings at least twice a year because she gets really fat from eating her straw. They all love the oat straw but eat a lot less of the rye straw. Do you know what kind of straw you'll be using? Any chance you have access to something like shredded corn stalks to use for bedding? We tried this and the horses didn't eat much of it but trying to shred and store enough bedding for 30 horses was impossible.


          • #6
            I've never known a shavings eater that wasn't also a straw eater. I'd look into sawdust or pelleted bedding, or a run-in shed.


            • #7
              I agree with the votes of either a pelleted bedding, sawdust, or even paper shavings if you can find them. No idea about what you could squirt on them though.


              • #8
                Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                I've never known a shavings eater that wasn't also a straw eater. I'd look into sawdust or pelleted bedding, or a run-in shed.
                I have one horse who is a shavings/straw eater. My recent experience is that he also eats the pelleted bedding, even after it breaks down into "dust".

                We ended up putting him back on the straw and trying to keep hay in front of him 24/7.

                He still eats the straw if he's out of hay, but our vet felt that eating oat straw was preferable to a wood product. BTW, he drinks a ton of water when he goes to town on the straw. So far no colic/impaction problems and we have had him on straw for about 2 months...

                Good Luck and I second the run in shed idea if available at your boarding barn.
                West of nowhere


                • #9
                  I have a shavings eater. I switched him to a very fine, almost sawdust bedding and he stopped eating it. It can get very dusty though.
                  My blog: Crackerdog Farm


                  • #10
                    If the pony eats shaving, it'll eat the straw as well. Especially oat straw, which is the tastiest. Rye straw and wheat straw are less appetizing, but will still be eaten. If your pony eats the bedding, try to stay away from barley straw because the head of the plant has barbs on it that can become embedded in the horse's gums. Keeping hay in front of the horse (difficult with an air fern) will help prevent bedding eating. But straw in general is more appetizing than shavings or sawdust. There is less of a risk of impaction when a small amount is eaten, but if the horse eats the whole stall down it's more of a concern. However, my mother's horse used to eat oat hay with the beef cattle, and when moved to a barn with straw bedding, ate the entire thickly bedded stall without any ill affects. Oat hay is oats that have been cut and baled while the plant is still green.

                    Are the stalls matted? If so, straw will not be absorbent enough to soak up the urine/spilled water and the stall will constantly be wet. The barn might end up putting shavings down anyways.


                    • #11
                      Only a specific type of straw is safe to eat. In fact, in some countries, straw is fed to horses specifically mixed in with their hay as additional filler, useful to horses that are extraordinarily easy-keeping. It doesn't cause colic or impactions, if the correct straw is used. It is a roughage filler that they poop out, it just doesn't have any nutrients. You just need to be sure your horse has ample-ample water because hay + straw eating = very thirsty horse (to cope with the roughage). They will impact and will get colic if they're not getting enough water.

                      The only type of straw you need to be seriously concerned about for eating is barley straw, because there are hooks on the head end which get caught in the esophagus and stomach and can cause ulcers - THIS straw would cause colic because of the ulcerations! Oat straw is also not the best for a horse that eats bedding because it has a certain amount of digestibility to it being an oat.

                      The only straw that is totally safe for horses is Wheat straw. It is soft, no hooks and safe for a bedding eater. It also provides superior drainage so even when the horse pees, the top layer stays perfectly dry and a dry horse is a warm and snuggly horse. Wheat straw is also superior when it comes to insulation against a cold floor.

                      I bed my horses in wheat straw all the time. In 40 years, I have NEVER had colic due to wheat straw. However, I have seen disasterous things happen to horses at facilities where they were bedded in oat or barley straw. Despite my warnings to use wheat straw, a neighbour fed his extremely easy-keeping pony barley straw mixed with hay. Hooks from the barley straw got stuck in the esophagus causing severe breathing problems and constant coughing, such that the pony had to be put down. This could have been avoided had he fed wheat straw.
                      Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                      • #12
                        Barley straw is quite commonly fed to equids.
                        Not something I would choose, but not anything to be frightened of.
                        "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                        ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks everyone! I think it will probably be wheat straw because that is what is most common around here. I dont think they will put down a lot of it because they are thinking she might chow down on it too. So we are going to give it a shot and see how it goes. I think it will be better than munching on shavings and we will be sure she has plenty of water. I am concerned that I will need to feed her more hay and have said Ill pay more for hay in order to keep her from eating the straw as much. We will see how it goes!



                          • #14
                            Several years ago, I made a very lucky buy on round bales. They were much cheaper than square baled hay or straw, and less than bagged shavings. I ended up not being able to put them in my turnouts as I had planned. So, for the rest of the winter I peeled off sheets of round baled fescue hay and bedded with it. The horses did fine, and I don't think I threw out any more soiled hay than I would have straw or shavings.

                            My only problem was my Newer Spreader wasn't able to spread the resulting product.


                            • #15
                              Another vote for Wheat Straw. I would not use the wood pellets at all, if horse eats them, then drinks...well, imagine the distension about to take place!


                              • Original Poster

                                thats exactly were my worry-wort mind went...i looked up the pellets that you add water, expand, and make a really nice looking bedding.....but they are expensive!


                                • #17
                                  I bed with pellets, wetting them enough to break down, and it is less expensive than shavings.
                                  My vary with geographic location.
                                  "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                  ...just settin' on the Group W bench.