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How much bedding do you put in a stall?

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  • How much bedding do you put in a stall?

    I need the help of my fellow COTHers. I am at a boarding barn that has a fairly new owner. She has been wonderful and trying to fix things up. She installed mats in all the stalls. She has cut way back on bedding. She puts about 2" of sawdust in the back half of the stall, and nothing in the front. Her feeling is that the horses will move around and spread the sawdust. A lot of times it isn't even enough to soak up the urine in my horse's stall.

    What is the right amount to put in a stall? I have a 16.1" eventer. He works hard and I want him to be comfy in his stall. He is out from 8-4 every day.

    Thank you in advance for your help! I did a search on the forum and couldn't find any info. And I have googled it and couldn't find any info either.

  • #2
    You/BO won't like it but...

    6-8" everywhere.

    I like enough that the pee stays put where the horse deposits it and there is a reasonably dry layer over the top. I don't like to put my head on a pissy pillow, so why should my horse?

    The good news is that deeply-bedded, properly maintained stalls don't end up costing too much more than too-thinly bedded ones. For most horses, shavings stay either obviously wet or dry. They don't get mixed into that half-way stage that makes you throw them out or keep them for a stinky barn. It does work best if you pick them out a second time per day.

    Be gentle with your BO. It can be hard for a check-writing beginner to learn that more is more in the shavings case.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


    • #3
      My horse is in a pipe stall (12'x24') and I have mats in the stall. I put "quick pick" shavings throughout the stall but mostly in the back half because my horse seems to like doing his business it in the softer parts of his stall, so if I keep it softer in the back then he will only go back there. I would say it's about 4" deep in the back and 2" in front. My horse is comfy in his stall. He lays down to take a nap every afternoon in the sun.
      Owned by an Oldenburg


      • #4
        I use about 4-5 bags of sawdust/shavings if I'm bedding a (12x12') stall from scratch. I know a lot of places that only bed the back half of the stall but I don't care for that method--it's just skimping on bedding, plain and simple, call it what you will. I don't like a hugely deep bed, since I'm the one that has to clean my stalls every day, but I do want the entire floor covered with at least 2" of bedding. If there are rubber mats, you don't need a whole lot more than that, IMO, but if the existing bedding is always looking filthy and wet, that's a sign you need more.

        Bedding is VERY expensive, and usually constitutes a HUGE proportion of a boarding stable's expenses, so I do sympathize with the consideration of the bottom line. But I am never happy if I see super-skimpy bedding in stalls. IME if you spend a bit of time and are careful with cleaning/picking you don't go through bedding very fast, but a lot of big barns do very fast and sloppy stall cleaning just to "get 'er done" and the waste of bedding is shocking.

        I don't really think horses care about soft, cushy beds to lie in (that's anthropomorphic) but I do hate to see filthy bedding in a stall where a horse spends a lot of time. My horses sleep outside on the ground most of the time, even if their stalls are open, so I don't think they care about their "bed" but I sure don't want them standing in disgusting wet bedding when they are inside.

        Can you negotiate for extra bedding, maybe offer to do some barn chores to help offset the cost?
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Overall, our bedding is about 6-7 inches thick (higher where banked...more like 10-12" at the sides). I think it also depends on what is under your mats as well. We have mats over 6" of sand over screenings...nice cushy base to begin with. If I had concrete under the mats I would probably add another 2" of bedding.
          Ridge Farm Inc.-full care retirement


          • Original Poster

            Thank you

            Thank you for your opinions. I have a black and white horse with a lot of white. He always has major pee stains on him. And in winter his blanket is filthy from his stall. I have been saying that it is because there isn't enough shavings to soak up the pee.

            I know my horse is messy, and he pees a lot.

            DeltaWave...great suggestion. I have volunteered probably 40 hours already, and I always offer to help out. Heck, I am even willing to pay additional money for more shavings.

            Keep your opinions coming please. Thank you!


            • #7
              When Bonnie spends the winter at my trainers' (they use less bedding than I do AND the horses are inside more) her blankets are always so filthy in the spring they can stand up and trot off on their own! My "at home" horses are out 24/7, though, so that helps keep the blankets cleaner during snow season.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                When I bed a completely empty stall I put four wheelbarrow loads of sawdust in the middle and then let the horses spread it out from there. That's how I put the one load of replacement bedding in too and they spread it. I don't want to feel the floor but I do have mats down and they will spread it out. It's definately easier and cheaper to clean if there is enough bedding on top of the pee and if you can pick out twice daily.


                • #9
                  When I was boarding, the barn was trying to cut costs by using minimal bedding in each stall, totally understandable. My gelding needed more bedding due to his arthritis. So I spoke with the BM/BO and she had no problem with me bringing my own shavings to add to what they put in. Also, they used sawdust, which irritated my gelding's sheath.

                  It did mean a little extra work for the barn staff to clean his stall, but luckily he is neat in his stall, so it was not that much of an issue.
                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                  • #10
                    About 4-6" on top of rubber mats. More if the horse is on stall rest. I don't spread the bedding out under the water bucket and feed tub (directly under anyway, it ends up there somehow), and I scrape it away from the door about 2 feet or so. We do shavings by the bag but at my old barn it took about four wheelbarrows to fill a stall from scratch--these were 12'x12'.
                    I love my Econo-Nag!


                    • #11
                      Where I am boarding, my horse is stalled overnight on rubber mats and about 2-3 inches of bedding. The shavings are swept to the back 2/3 of the stall, which I don't have a problem with, since then he is eating his hay right off the mats and not eating a lot of shavings with it.

                      When I was in a self-care situation, I bedded a little more deeply, about 4-6" of bedding or more, but I don't really expect barn owners to provide that much on rubber mats.
                      Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                      • #12
                        I probably bed deeper than average 8-10".
                        But, no hock rubs, and horses usually lay @ night.
                        My old guy, bone spurs and Navic. clearly shows a difference in the mornings when it's not deep enough.
                        Side note- I get my shavings for free from a stair manufacturer.
                        It is a by product for them, and they offer it for free just to get rid of it.
                        Check around your area.


                        • #13
                          When we built our barn we put in extra thick mats (can't remember where we got them, but I researched because I wanted to put in good mats to conserve costs on bedding). So we average about 4 inches of pelletted bedding in our 12 x 14 stalls, and sweep back the front 2-3 feet so there's no bedding there to keep the horses from snuffling up the wood dust when they eat their hay.

                          It's my opinion that if the stall has mats the bedding is more about managing their waste (manure and pee) and less about their comfort. Since we muck out twice a day (while they're out in the pasture and at the late night check) I need less bedding. But when Jazz was on a year of stall rest I switched to shavings and had about 6-8 inches in there for him (with a layer of pelleted bedding underneath because it manages the pee so well).

                          When we boarded, the horses were in dirt bottom stalls that were hard as rock, and horribly uneven. We used to buy our own extra shavings and add a package to what the barn folks put in once a week. The shavings were distinctly different from what the barn used so there was no barn drama about us getting more than someone else or "stealing" extra bedding. I'm so happy to be outta there!
                          "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                          <>< I.I.


                          • #14
                            I use pelleted bedding but it mostly ends up turning into sawdust anyways and my horses stall is bedded from 4-6 inches. There are rubber mats underneath as well.

                            My guy pees a lot but I find his stall is still dry on top every morning and the pee stays in place and sinks below the surface. He never has any pee stains on him and the mats aren't saturated either.

                            He lays down to sleep every night and seems comfortable.


                            • #15
                              This is a pet peeve of mine. In order to cut costs, my barn puts about 2 inches of shavings in the stalls. They do clean twice a day, but within two weeks, my blankets stink of pee and I have to have them washed (two horses). I pay $1400 per month in board on two horses. I'm not seeing any physical problems with the lack of bedding...the blankets and horses just stink.


                              • #16
                                I boarded at a barn that used a shovelfull of shavings per stall. Yes, a shovel full. It stank of pee in that barn


                                • #17
                                  let me preface this by saying, my horse is a stall resting slob.
                                  He is on mats and gets a wheel barrow full once a day (twice on the really horrific days). No more because it's a waste. He churns.... But ace keeps him churning slowly.
                                  "are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn...I can yawn, because I ride better than you, Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn, you, not so much..." George Morris in Camden, SC


                                  • #18
                                    This time of year mine aren't in a great deal and they merely have a light summer bed of about 2" of shavings and to ensure if they pee it's not splashing up on them.


                                    • #19
                                      Two horses bedded totally differently.

                                      Way piggy mare on mats (she digs holes otherwise) that is bedded like you describe your barn owner does. She does lay down every night with out an issue. I have tried her with lots of bedding and with less bedding. This seems to be the magical amount where I do not have to spend a crazy amount of time hunting for manure piece or tossing out way too much bedding.

                                      One very neat but wet boy no mats. A thick layer of sawdust underneath with straw on top. He too lays down every night (and he looks so cute in the morning with straw hanging from every where). Easy to pick out the manure as it is in a pile along one wall. Straw layer keeps him off any lake that does not soak down into the sawdust quickly enough.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                        I use about 4-5 bags of sawdust/shavings if I'm bedding a (12x12') stall from scratch. I know a lot of places that only bed the back half of the stall but I don't care for that method--it's just skimping on bedding, plain and simple, call it what you will.

                                        I will disagree with you here. I have my horse at home as well. I think that I do it differently, but he is able to go in and out 24/7. I bed only the back 2/3 of the stall to prevent him tracking bedding everywhere. Not cheapness, just too messy otherwise. Of course, by the next feeding, the back 2/3 are evenly distributed throughout the stall.