What’s stable bedding?

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Stable bedding for horses can include wood chips, straw, peat moss, and other materials. Rubber mats should be placed on the floor first, followed by wood chips or straw. Cedar, oak, pine, and maple are good choices, while black walnut is toxic. The amount of bedding needed depends on the breed and workload of the horse. Banking the sides of the stall is recommended. Wood chips absorb moisture and ammonia smell, making the stall more comfortable.

Stall bedding is the material used on the floor of your horse’s stall. Wood chips and straw are most commonly used. There are other options available such as peat moss and other natural and composite materials.

A stable bedding preferably starts with rubber mats, placed on a dirt, wood or concrete floor. This is followed by a layer of wood chips. Due to the possibility of a newborn foal suffocating in the deep shavings, it is best to use straw during the delivery times. For all other times, wood shavings are preferable as many horses will eat the palatable straw. If you plan to use straw, be sure to familiarize yourself with the local grains used to make straw bales and inspect closely for mold.

As for wood chips, there are a variety of hardwoods available for stable bedding. If you live in an area that doesn’t have lumberyards or mills, you can purchase bagged bedding from your local pet and pet store. Most bagged bedding is made from pine and is kiln dried.

If you live near a lumberyard, it’s much cheaper to buy barn bedding directly from them. They will have sawdust and shavings both. Shavings are preferred over sawdust as the latter is too fine and can be inhaled or eaten while the horse is eating hay.

Most mills know what woods are needed for stable bedding use. Cedar is best and serves a dual purpose as it will also keep the insect population down. Oak, pine and maple are also excellent choices. Black walnut should never be used as it is highly toxic to horses.

The breed of horse and its workload will determine the amount of bedding required. For large breeds, such as Warmbloods, Drafts and Thoroughbreds, six (6) inches is ideal. The test consists of taking the foot and making two passes through the bedding to reach the mat. For medium sized breeds, two to four (2-4) inches are acceptable and for smaller breeds and ponies, one to two (1-2) inches will suffice. For show and convalescent horses, you’ll want to use the maximum amount of bedding to protect their hocks while lying down and standing up.

Banking your box is the ideal way to finish preparing it for your horse. This means creating a deep, angled edge along the sides. This bank should be an extra six to eight (6-8) inches deep. This will prevent your horse from flipping or getting stuck against the wall as he rolls.

Another advantage of wood chips is that they absorb moisture and the smell of ammonia and make the stable more comfortable for your horse. You’ll see your horse’s appreciation for his stall bedding by spending more time lying down.

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