Bedding down for winter

As we roll into winter, most horse owners are well into their winter routines which means horses are spending far longer in their stables, and therefore it’s time to look at your bedding choices.

There are countless types of bedding on the market and it can be difficult to decide which one would be best for your horse. We are going to look at the most common types of bedding and the advantages and disadvantages for each one.

Straw

The most traditional type is straw bedding. Used for years, straw is the cheapest type of bedding, which can also be used in the garden as fertiliser. It provides a very welcoming bed but isn’t the most absorbent, meaning it does smell more than other materials. It is also messy and not very common on large yards as it quickly creates a large muckheap. The cost of removal can swiftly outweigh its initial cheap price. It can also contribute to respiratory issues in humans and horses alike.

Chopped Straw

Chopped straw is a good alternative to traditional straw. As it undergoes a dust extraction process, it can be good for horses with respiratory issues – especially over winter when they spend more time indoors. It is also perfect for horses that have a tendency to eat their bedding as the bales are treated to be non-palatable. As they are plastic wrapped and easy to store as they are less bulky than traditional straw. This also means the muckheap will be smaller too. It’s more expensive than straw but you can save money by buying in bulk.

Wood shavings

A popular type of bedding, wood shavings also come plastic wrapped and are easy to store, especially if you do not have any under-cover area. There are many different brands available and shavings can vary in size of the flakes, density of the bale and dust levels. For this reason, it is advisable to only buy shavings specifically produced for equine use. The downside is that shavings do take a long time to rot down and can take a great deal of maintenance, so may be rather time-consuming mucking out during winter.

Wood pellets

Wood pellets are proving very popular for messy, wet horses. They are made up from compact sawdust that has been heat treated – water is added to increase their absorbency, which can take up valuable time. They are eco-friendly and dust-free and rot down quicker than shavings and straw. They can also be slippery in pellet from which poses a risk of injury. They are easy to store and are generally manufactured in smaller sacks, making them easier to move and transport.

Hemp/Flax

This bedding is made from the chopped stems of hemp/flax and offered an alternative to paper and shavings. It’s far more absorbent than shavings and is light and easy to muck out. Perfect for deep littering as it provides a solid bed. Hemp/flax composes very quickly, making it perfect for compost. It is dust-free, non- palatable and comes in wrapped bales which are easy to handle and store.

Paper

Paper bedding is normally a mixture of newspaper and unwanted printed paper. As it is so light, it takes a number of bales to fill a stable, and tends to blow around the yard and leave quite a mess – it sticks to the concrete like glue! However, cardboard can be a good alternative as it is heavier. Paper is dust-free and non-palatable so a great choice for a horse, or owner with allergies. Paper bedding is commonly seen as a cheap option but it does need changing regularly as it does become very soggy if left unchecked.

We hope you have found this guide helpful when making your bedding choices this winter. If you have any questions, feel free to call us and speak to one of our friendly staff or drop buy your local Myhills store and have a chat!