Field shelters and bedding...

Melandmary

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26 January 2021
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Morning all! For the first time I have had the oppurtunity for my ponies to live out for the summer, so out they went at the weekend and I have had 3 sleepless nights worrying about the constant rain and the fact I didn't get chance to rug them before it rained 🙄. Anyhow, they have a field shelter and are using it. I put a couple of bales of rape straw bedding down but it appears to be turning to mulch. The shelter floor does not have a solid concrete base, it appears to be just soil and remnants of hay and straw that have compacted down from former use. Am I best not to use any bedding at all? I am finding it a struggle adjusting my mind set from them having a great big comfy bed. Do people put mud mats in? Bedding? Or would you just leave it. They are not pooing in it. Any tips would be helpful, thanks 😊
 

cauda equina

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I have rubber stable mats in my shelters, otherwise the earth floors turn to dust (the shelters are mobile so are parked on grass)
One shelter has rape straw, the other nothing but I've used ordinary straw in the past and it worked ok
Like you, I like a bed
 

Melandmary

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When the fields dry up I will put some mats down, right now I can't even push a wheelbarrow over it, I have to carry trugs back and forth to poo pick 😭. Mine is not movable. Straw is a no go I think because I am next to the river and I don't want rats in there. But thankyou, I see more pound notes going on making my new horse accommodation working for us. 💷
 

Petalpoos

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I put about 20cm of type 2 down and flattened it with a vibration plate, then rubber mats on top with a scaffold plank across the bottom of the doorway to keep the bedding in and the mud out. I then used shavings. It worked really well and has lasted for years, but it does require a bit of cash at the start. I don't think that simply putting mats down will help as the water and mud will rise up again in the winter. It's the sort of job that needs doing properly at the start!
 

Melandmary

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Yes I think that is the problem with the ground, the shelter has been there a long time and looks like a deep littered dried out bed. It was fine before the rain came, I got all the top layer off but now whatever is underneath is just going mushy. It doesn't help that the land gets easily waterlogged. Another big job then 😂
 

whirlwind

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We normally do as above but the last shelter we put up is destined to be moved in spring so we went just for mats and then bedding on top. I found the first couple of weeks it was a bit of a bog but one you get enough bedding down (we use a mix of pellets and shavings- put the pellets in unsoaked) it’s all stabilised really well and formed a nice firm base that is always dry, I just top it off with a bag or 2 of small flake shavings every week.
 

J&S

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I rented some grazing with a lovely 30 ft field shelter. They had put this up with a hard core base and small area of hard standing.
I put down shavings at the back for a bed and had rubber matting at the front. The shelter never became wet inside and I hardly ever had to top up the shavings, just changed the whole lot at the end of the summer. To be placed on a purely grass base one would have to carefully assess how the land drained as even if you could keep the shelter dry the land around will still become wet and boggy.
 

HollyWoozle

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I started a topic a few weeks ago about wood pellet bedding for shelters as we have a similar shelter with a dirt floor. We had been using shavings but the pony just pees in there and it becomes a mulchy mess. We have now put some some grass type mats to solidify the floor somewhat and I'm going to give the wood pellets a go - will let you know how we get on!
 

scruffyponies

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Surely the important thing with a field shelter is that all water running off the pasture or roof is directed away from the building, via guttering, trench channels or french drains. That way your floor will remain dry, whether it's bedded or just packed earth.
 

Melandmary

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26 January 2021
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Usually I think yes, that would be right to think, the guttering runs it away, I wouldn't know about drainage underneath, all I know is whether it is due to being beside the river, the ground is water logged easily, the fields have almost ponds on them after a day's rain and so the base of the field shelter is wet from underneath. I have had my ponies here since December and constantly moving them from 1 field to another as soon as ground gets boggy, which doesn't take long. Hardstanding areas and mudmats going down in the summer ready for next winter but I didn't realise the field shelter would be swampy too. 😳
 

milliepops

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I don't bed my earth floored shelters, one stays really dry (dustbath) and the one at livery gets soggy but does dry out. the land there is swampy when it's rained so i guess it seeps up from below.

I do bed my run-in shelter where my youngsters are but it has a concrete floor and they like sleeping in there rather than in the field. i just sweep old hay in there and top up with shavings and pellets now and then.

is there any scope to move the shelter to dryer ground? if not I'd just leave the floor bare i think.
 

Melandmary

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Thankyou, I can't move it, before the rain it was bone dry as was the rest of the field, hopefully we won't have a wet summer and it will be fine until I can look at a more permanent fix for it when they come out of there. I think if I keep adding bedding I will be making it worse when there is a heavy rain. Thanks for the advice on proper flooring going down 😊
 

HollyWoozle

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@Melandmary just updating this thread to say that we are finding wood pellets to work really well for us so far. Our shelter also has a dirt floor and shavings just became a wet mess in no time at all. My stepdad laid some grass mats in there to firm everything up and then we added some wood pellets last weekend. Two ponies have been using the shelter since then, including peeing in there several times a day (of course!) and it looks as good as new.
 

PurBee

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I wouldnt want my horses peeing in their shelter, as it means i’d have a shelter to muck out.

The shelter is in a field, means they can pee outside! (fingers crossed!)

So i’d try large piece wood chip, 8 inch deep as a bed. They can lay on it. iF they pee on it, it’ll drain through to the soil, without soaking up pee and smelling. A thick-enough layer of woodchip will stop it being mixed in with wet mud underneath, if the shelter suffers with wet mud base when it rains.

If you’ve got lots of old mushed up bedding as a base OP, i’d remove that, because it’ll soak up potential wee and stink eventually causing you to have to remove it anyway. Get down to dry, firm soil - which soaks up pee and the soil bacteria neutralise the smell by processing the urine.( Clay soil - this method wont work, it wont absorb pee.) Top with a very thick wood chip mulch.

But if you’re happy to muck out a field shelter, wood pellets as a base already mentioned would also be the bedding id use.
 

Cocorules

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My shelters have either a chalk or sand base with rubber mats. Where I was previously it was a decent sand floor and no mats.

I don't think bedding is needed in shelters unless you have a concrete base where the bedding serves to give them something warmer to stand on.
 

Melandmary

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26 January 2021
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Thankyou hollywoozle and purbee. I managed to dig out that shelter back to soil and put some rapestraw bedding in it. They don't use their shelters for pooing or weeing in which is good. They came out of that field into another one where I have a concrete base floor shelter. I have rubber matted that one. The joys of worrying about muddy field shelters are long gone and now replaced with worrying over my ridden mare who has lami 😭. I was so excited that she was going to be living out and now she is on boxrest for a month.... At least
 
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