Choice is always a good thing for the consumer, and when it comes to equine bedding, there’s a surprising range of options.
Bedding used to be straw, peat, sawdust or maybe shavings, but these days you can choose from shavings of all different sizes, chopped straw, wood pellets, or flax… in fact the choice these days can be bewildering. The wider choice of bedding products is fuelled by an increasing emphasis on the influence of bedding on horse health. Tim Smalley, managing director at Bedmax says: “The UK equine bedding industry has changed significantly since we began producing Bedmax 15 years ago. Horse owners are much more widely aware of the part that bedding can play in keeping their horses healthy in the stable, and their choice has shifted markedly away from traditional beddings such as straw and towards beddings such as Bedmax which has been developed specifically for the purpose of providing horses with a healthier stable environment.” Bedding now does more than just provide a soft place for the horse to rest and absorbency for soaking up urine; now bedding can provide a healthy, dust free and even fragrant way to keep horses comfortable.
Making the choice
The bedding you choose will boil down to many factors including: dust levels, ease of use, price, comfort, absorbency, support, availability, non-palatability and ease of disposal.
By far the most commonly cited influencing factor is dust levels. Even if your horse doesn’t have a specific respiratory condition, reducing levels of dust in his environment is better for both horse and owner. There are lots of dust free bedding options including treated chopped straw, dust-extracted shavings, paper or cardboard, wood pellets and rubber matting.
There are many companies that offer dust free shavings, including Hunter woodshavings, which offers a dust free vacuum packed bale, Bedmax which produces purpose made shavings. Tim explains that respiratory health is top of the list of requirements for many, which is why shavings are so popular: “The recent National Equestrian Survey published by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) this summer shows that shavings are the most popular type of bedding in the UK now, overtaking straw. Over the past 15 years we’ve surveyed over 15,000 owners, and from that evidence we believe UK owners now recognise the differences in quality and performance between ‘by-product’ shavings produced by the wood processing industries and purpose-made shavings like Bedmax.
“Also, from our own surveys, we know that the vast majority of horse owners in the UK put the health and wellbeing of their horses top of their priority list when they’re choosing bedding. Dust levels are the main specific factor that influences choice. More and more owners understand the respiratory problems that can be caused by dust in bedding, and they want a bedding that eliminates dust.”
Wood pellets are also an excellent option as a low dust bedding and these are becoming more popular at the moment. They offer excellent value for money and as they efficiently clump together in soiled areas, making waste easy to remove without turning the whole bed. They are made from compress