Straw is the best bedding

ycbm

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Rubber matting has a lot to answer for. A good, deep straw bed negates the use of rubber matting. Good, thorough, muck outs negate the use of rubber matting. Mine is on a deep straw bed, replenished with fresh straw after each use.

'Thorough' not meaning 'take out every bit of damp'. Someone rightly pointed out that dry straw is not very absorbent. Damp straw is not only more absorbent, but it also sticks to the floor better, preventing bald spots.

The technique I was taught was to take out the muck and wet, then re-lay the damp as the base and top with clean and dry.

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Queenbee

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This barn has an earth surface with a covering of old shavings on it. And one 3x4m pad of old haylage. The TB would not lie down until I added bedding. Now he has it, , neither horse will lie anywhere else.

View attachment 39559


where is the "love" button when you need it?


The beast will lie down anywhere.

my general approach has been shavings in summer and straw in winter but we have amazing straw on tap here and with a 14 x 16 stable straw is my go-to now and I suspect it will be all year. I love making a super deep bed and coming in and seeing the flat patches in the morning :)
 

tankgirl1

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If you properly deep litter with straw it doesn't smell as the base doesn't move. However it is a mammoth job to dig out come spring! This is my first winter with rubber mats and mucking out fully every day rather than deep littering, mainly because my back isn't up to digging it out at the end of winter.
 
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Queenbee

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If you properly deep litter with straw it doesn't smell as the base doesn't move. However it is a mammoth job to dig out come spring! This is my first winter with rubber mats and mucking out fully every day rather than deep littering, mainly because my back isn't up to digging it out at the end of winter.

My suggestion would be to invest in some wood pellets. I cannot abide digging out a deep litter anymore. Also, no matter how 'clean' it smells I can't stand the thought of them breathing in the deep litter bedding fumes. I now do a normal deep bed with a layer of pellets on the bottom, I remove and replace the pellets every weekend and skip out for the rest of the week. It saves on work and there is absolutely no smell.
 

tankgirl1

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My suggestion would be to invest in some wood pellets. I cannot abide digging out a deep litter anymore. Also, no matter how 'clean' it smells I can't stand the thought of them breathing in the deep litter bedding fumes. I now do a normal deep bed with a layer of pellets on the bottom, I remove and replace the pellets every weekend and skip out for the rest of the week. It saves on work and there is absolutely no smell.
Straw is included in my livery so would rather not have to buy any bedding in, and we are doing well so far this year with a 'normal' straw bed, but I will definitely bear the wood pellets in mind, thanks
 

Leo Walker

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I cant find the actual links for most of this, but I've taken these summaries from an article

A study carried out in 2014 showed that horses bedded on straw and fed non-steamed hay were exposed to 17 times the dust levels of horses bedded on shavings and fed steamed hay.
A separate study in 2014 examined the prevalence of respiratory disorders in people working in the equine industry, considering the time they spent at the yard, the use of hay and straw and the stable environment they were working in. The incidence of respiratory diseases in stable staff increased among those who filled hay nets with forage that had not been steamed, swept an enclosed stable complex twice a day or worked with horses in enclosed stables bedded with straw – certainly nothing unusual or rare in the present day.
he results of a separate study showed that 84% of horses suffered from Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD), which is mainly caused by the respirable dust found in hay and straw.
In one of the most recent attempts to find answers, a group of Polish researchers* assessed the impact of straw, dedusted peat with shavings, and crushed wood pellets on air contamination.

During the study, eight horses were maintained on each type of bedding for three weeks. At the beginning and end of each phase of the study, red and white blood cell parameters, respiratory rate, and lung sounds were assessed in addition to arterial blood gas evaluations and endoscopic examinations.

“All horses remained healthy during the study, and none of the beddings significantly altered any of the blood values measured,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

Nonetheless, several important differences between the different types of bedding were noted:

  • Crushed wood pellets produced fewer aerosolized fungal spores and bacteria but the most dust;
  • Bacterial contamination of the stable air was similar for straw and peat with shavings;
  • Straw and peat with shavings produced similar fungal air contamination; and
  • Endoscopic exams were the least favorable on straw.
“The study period was short, which could minimize the impact of any bedding on airway health, but this study did confirm that straw was overall the least desirable bedding material of the three,” Crandell summarized.
Bedding material is an important factor in determining stable air quality in terms of ammonia formation. The objective of this study was to analyze different bedding materials used for horse stables under standardized conditions, to determine which material is best suited for improving the climate of a stable.....the results of this study have shown that straw pellets are suitable for horse stables, not only to improve air quality but also, first and foremost, in relation to ammonia binding and ammonia transformation within the bedding material, respectively.
A recent study conducted in Poland assessed and analyzed the impact of different types of bedding on equine behavior. The types of bedding studied included straw, shavings, peat moss and wood pellets.

Horses used in the study were observed for comfort level, which was quantified by horse's interest in the bedding, laying in both lateral and sternal positions, and resting in both lateral and sternal positions. A horse's undesirable behaviors were also noted. These included eating or chewing the stall sides, biting at the stall bars and stall walking. Additionally, aggressive behaviors like biting neighboring horses, kicking stall walls and threatening other horses were also recorded.


Straw use in box stalls held the horse's interest the most, horses bedded on iexhibited longer periods of recumbent rest. Undesirable behaviors were also least frequently exhibited on straw.

The research team concluded that straw was ideal bedding for fulfilling the behavioral needs of stalled horses.
link to behavioural research

I cant access the whole article on behavioural research, if anyone can I'd love to know if ad lib forage was provided and what the control group was.

It does back up my feelings that while straw does look nice, its not good for horses airways or the people mucking out!
 

tankgirl1

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'Thorough' not meaning 'take out every bit of damp'. Someone rightly pointed out that dry straw is not very absorbent. Damp straw is not only more absorbent, but it also sticks to the floor better, preventing bald spots.

The technique I was taught was to take out the muck and wet, then relay the damp as the base and top with clean and dry.

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I take out the muck and the wet, and make a pile of the damp and dirty stuff. I then use that to make the base and cover with fresh straw each day. So far so good!

ETA: I also use any trampled or dirty hay as part of the base too
 

Nasicus

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I don't mind chopped straw beddings, and I always found a proper straw bed nice, but hard work to maintain, and I have never stank of horse pee as much as I did when bedding on traditional straw. But then, that mare did pee a LOT and enjoyed hiding all her poops under the banks. Plus, I find straw makes a big muck heap that doesn't rot down too quickly. Okay on a yard where muck removal is dealt with by the YO, but when it's your responsibility it's a different matter.
I now bed on rubber mats with a nice thick, deep layer of chopped *insert whichever chopped bedding is best priced at the time here, I think it's Fennington Fibres Chopped Miscanthus at the moment* with unactivated wood pellets mixed in for extra absorbency. I find the chopped *whatevers* tend to rot down pretty swiftly, and the wood pellets hardly contribute to the heap. We've managed 2 years without needing a muck removal, although we'll have one in the spring this year.

Still, it's hard to beat the visual appeal of a massive, fluffy straw bed so thick you can dive into it :D
 

skint1

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I like a nice straw bed, I can't deal with shavings and all that, but i know a lot of yards won't have straw so I suppose there may be a day I will have to deal with it
 

Mister Ted

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Nothing nicer than a fresh springy straw bed.Its easier to handle and lighter than shavings without the dust. My liverey make their own straw and its easy to tell a good year as the bale opens to nice bright yellow long straws.
 

GTRJazz

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The days of long clean straw have gone. Modern combines thrash it to short dusty light bales.
We reject short Straw but you are right the long type we use is harder to get hold of.
And it needs to be lifted every day to dry, not just skipped off which I suspect a lot of people do now days
 

Mister Ted

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I have found straw definately encourages a horse to lie down. A clean well made bed with the sides banked up..Ive nearly fallen asleep in it myself.!
 

PurBee

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I have gone back to straw beds on top of shavings with good rubber mats in all the stables. As mine have free access to an outdoor mud loafing area, concrete floored barn and the stables they get to choose where to sleep.

Just rubber mats and lay down was on the mud or occasionally on the concrete. Megasorb in the stables, no change. Shavings in the stables and one would lay down for short periods in a stable the others still prefered outside or bare barn floor. Light straw bed and still only the one laying down inside. Chopped rape bed and still only the one using the stables for sleeping at times. A good shavings bed with a really good straw bed on top and all of them are sleeping in the stables, a lot!

I have cameras up in the barn and watch at all times of day and night so know who is doing what.
Id love cameras so i could check out their antics!

Ive used straw, shavings, rapeseed chopped stems, miscanthus.
2 horses sharing one large, open fronted barn.

I used to have mats throughout, until discovering they were porous and absorb urine, the stench and the pressure washing was too much.
So i switched to semi-deep bed on concrete with mats at the front where there isnt bedding.

Straw therefore didnt perform well as a deep bed, doesnt soak up urine. Storage and collection of tonnes of straw aswell as hay impossible in my hay shelter. Straw exposed to 80+ humidity all yr round, black mould grows on outside of bales...if theyve been baled dry and not black inside too...rare to find in my area.
Also horses eat it, causing bloating and slight lami, due to spores and high carbs in straw stalks.

Shavings expensive but lovely bed, they love to roll and snooze fully flat. Very expensive for 18kg bales, needing 3 per week, easy to store with tarp ouside over pallet. BUT, and a huge but, fir shavings take forever to rot down on poop pile...years. Ive run out of poop pile space and have to keep creating more areas due to this. They are a nitrogen deficit on the pile. Ive spread almost rotten shaving/poop on land only to watch my lgrassland slowly turn yellow as the nitrogen is ‘stolen’ by the shavings to fully rot down, its the nitrogen forming bacteria that do this apparently.
So i despise shavings now but its really the only thing other than straw available thats suitable for their bellies. 9 euros a bale isnt pocket friendly.

Rapeseed shavings - NEVER AGAIN - laminitis attack, they ate a new 20kg bale in one night after putting it down. Bloated, gassy, colicy and very tender footed. Nightmare. Cow farmers tell horse owners its unpalatable to horses because cows dont eat it, but my horses loved it! I mixed it with bales of fir shavings, they nibbled through it still eating any speck they could find. Their hooves that year since the incident were rubbish. Took a year to grow that damage out.

Miscanthus chop - brilliant! Love the stuff! More absorbent than shavings, rots down quickly, comfy bed they love to lay on, they dont eat it, BUT only 1 trustworthy supplier in the whole of ireland! He wants 7.50 for a lightweight 12-15kg bag! I need 4 a week. More expensive than imported grade A haylage from the uk! Cant believe bedding can ever be more expensive than feed.

Found another supplier of miscanthus last year - ordered a pallet, and slowly using it only to find one day a lot of it was gone that was topped up previous night. I get the most awful sinking feeling and check the pallet to discover ive got some bags with miscanthus in it, and some bags with rapeseed shavings. A reputable agri seller supplied this! I found out who supplied them and spoke, or rather argued with the chap, who said he ran out of miscanthus so was packaging rapeseed instead and selling it as miscanthus because “its all the same”! No labels on the bag, didnt bother telling the retailer what he was doing. Said its unpalatable to horses etc :rolleyes:

My horses went downhill fast last year and im thinking that the colicy symptoms, footiness etc was grass caused for some strange reason , never happened before, or they ate the oak for the first time in years or something. Symptoms started when we got the ‘miscanthus’ pallet delivered. My OH puts the topup bags in generally, its so similar to miscanthus in look, but the texture is silkier, and the chop smaller.
I wrote and rang the retailer, who did nothing. Manufacturer didnt care. I wish i was a millionaire, id sue people like that out of business.
Good job my horses arent racehorses worth 200k and having to have a year off due to their ignorance, or worse, put down due to colic or irreversible lami ending their career!

So as you can imagine, i hate talking about bedding, thinking about it, dealing with it, and paying through the nose for it!
 

Pinkvboots

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I hate straw I use mega spread shavings and they are huge fluffy white beds a foot from the door I don't use mats underneath either just one at the front, I am a bit ocd with beds they are immaculate I would sleep on them.
 

windand rain

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I too am OCD about bedding but having spent hours crawling around on my hands and knees to remove everybit of ground up poo I hate them. I liveried on a yard where I looked after two YO horses with my three. Mine were on straw hers were on shavings they always looked dirty as they were not changed daily where as my straw beds were largely completely changed round on a daily basis wet and poo lifted and removed damp straw put up the wall to dry floor swept and allowed to dry. Sweeping the floor meant any tiny bits of poo were removed at that point once dry the beds were relayed and banks put in, fresh straw added on top. On cold frosty mornings the shavings beds had frozen water and frozen poo welded to the bedding the straw ones never had even the water rarely froze. Everyone of course has their own opinion and preferences but the time and effort with shavings is awful and they do smell much worse than daily mucked out straw as the wee is often left as it is expensive to redo the bed daily
 

Red-1

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I have chopped rape straw, which looks and acts like shavings. No smell. Full muck out once a week, tidy on top 9pm and 6am (then she is out).

The problem I have is in getting her out of bed! If she has not finished resting she is impossible to move. My last 4 horses have been exactly the same. I can sit on them, lie next to them, spin a rope near them, sing to them (now that would have me running to the hills) and still they lie, maybe deigning to move from a flat out sleep to lying on their chests (or maybe not).

I wonder if the difference is the depth? Despite rubber mats they still have a full mattress.
 

C1airey

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I bed on cardboard. It’s incredibly warm and far more absorbent than shavings. It doesn’t stick to the horse either. Horse definitely lies down (lots of flattened poo in the mornings), but I find the size of the bed makes as much a difference as bedding type: the bigger the surface area of bed, the more likely they are to lie flat out and snore. I probably have 9/10 of the stable bedded.
 

MrsMozart

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I bed on cardboard. It’s incredibly warm and far more absorbent than shavings. It doesn’t stick to the horse either. Horse definitely lies down (lots of flattened poo in the mornings), but I find the size of the bed makes as much a difference as bedding type: the bigger the surface area of bed, the more likely they are to lie flat out and snore. I probably have 9/10 of the stable bedded.
I've seen two vets practices use cardboard.
 

Leo Walker

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Having done some reading this afternoon, I've just ordered a bale of haylage to swap my 2 onto. Some of the research into dust and ammonia levels is pretty damning. Haylage and pellets seem to be the best option dust and ammonia wise for people and horses, so that's what I'll do going forwards. I'll probably have to move to small bales in the summer, but I'll worry about that then!
 

Blazingsaddles

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'Thorough' notU meaning 'take out every bit of damp'. Someone rightly pointed out that dry straw is not very absorbent. Damp straw is not only more absorbent, but it also sticks to the floor better, preventing bald spots.

The technique I was taught was to take out the muck and wet, then re-lay the damp as the base and top with clean and dry.

.
WHen my horse is in (rarely) the bed is lifted and all wet removed. The floor is aired. If the bed is deep enough no wet will penetrate.
 

PapaverFollis

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I've always had a horse with COPD so have never used straw! Plus too many traumatic memories of pony club with riding school ponies on straw. Being faced with mucking out a bed before a Friday evening rally that had been treated rather frugally all week... The year I had the pony that was in the end stable which all the other stables drained into will never leave me.

However I've put a straw bed down in my lean to field shelter and the horses seem to love it to lie on. The lean to is open on two sides so is really well ventilated so I've relented to the deep and cheap option!
 
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