A horse owners guide to bedding

There are countless types of horse bedding available so it can sometimes be difficult to choose which will be best for you and your horse. To help you with your choice, we look at the most common types of bedding and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Wood pellets: These are made from compact sawdust that has been heat-treated. Water will need to be added to help fluff them up and increase absorbency. Wood pellets are eco-friendly, dust-free, have high absorbency and compose quicker than shavings and straw. They can however be slippery in pellet form which can cause injury and need water when the bedding is put down, which adds time onto getting your horse’s stable ready.

Straw: Straw is a cheap of option for bedding, having great potential to be used as garden manure once removed from a stable. Straw is messy to store and quickly creates a large muckheap. It can be difficult to dispose of if used on a large yard. Additionally, the cost of removal can outweigh the initial cheap price. Your horse may be allergic to straw, so it is worth consulting your vet on the best way to combat this.

Chopped straw: Chopped straw is dust extracted which will help stop any respiratory problems your horse might receive form other bedding. Chopped straw is also treated to be non-palatable. The bales in which it comes are clean and easy to store and due to it not being as bulky as normal straw, creates a smaller muckheap. Unfortunately, chopped straw is a lot more expensive than regular straw but the price can be brought down when bought in bulk.

Wood Shavings: Wood shavings are a popular type of bedding; the quality of the shavings can vary immensely however especially when it comes to dust content. It is important to note that you should only buy shavings that are specifically produced as animal bedding. Wood shavings are non-palatable and widely available, coming in wrapped bales that are clean and easy to store. They Can be difficult to dispose of however as they take a fair amount of time to rot. It also requires a great deal of maintenance as droppings and care has to be taken to stop the bedding from becoming wet and causing a build-up of ammonia.

Hemp/flax: This bedding is made from the chopped stems of hemp/flax and offers an alternative to paper and shavings. It’s more absorbent than shavings and is light and easy to muck out. It makes great compost due to the way it rapidly breaks down. Hemp/flax is also dust-free, non-palatable and comes in wrapped bales, which are clean and easy to handle and store.

Paper: Paper bedding tends to be a mixture of newspaper and unwanted printed matter. It is usually considered to be a cheap option, but a large number of bales may be needed to create a nice, warm thick bed. Cardboard can be a good alternative to paper as it is heavier and less likely to blow away across the yard. Paper is both dust-free and non-palatable and a great choice for allergy suffering horses. The bales it comes in are clean and easy to store. Despite being known as cheap option, getting enough to create a warm bed can become expensive, with roughly five bales needed to create a bed. Paper can also be blown around the yard making it look untidy and disposing of the waste can be a hassle. Additionally, paper bedding needs to be checked regularly to ensure your horse’s bed does not become soggy.

Rubber matting: Rubber matting comes in the form of rubber carpets and walls developed as a complete horse bed. This provides a comparatively soft non-slip base making the whole area a lot safer for your horse. It is also incredibly easy to muck out as it can just be hosed down and in theory, means no further bedding costs, although some owners like to add a lighter layer of shavings over the matting to increase comfort for their horse. The costs of having rubber matting installed into your stable is expensive and not particularly pretty, so have a look at a stable that already has rubber matting before making an investment.

We hope you have found this guide of the advantages and disadvantages of different horse beddings useful. If you have any questions, feel free to call us and speak to one of our friendly staff or drop by your local Myhills store and speak to us in person.