Stall Bedding: Choosing the Right Type for Your Horse
The type of horse bedding that you choose to use will have both economic and health effects for you and your horse. Economically, different types of bedding will cost you varying amounts of both time and money. As well, bedding can greatly affect a horse’s health. Therefore it is important to choose the right type.
The health of your horse can be impacted by the amount of dust in their bedding as well as the type of wood that it is made from (if you are using bedding that is made from wood by-products). Too much dust can harm a horse’s respiratory system and certain types of wood including black walnut, bitter wood and yellow poplar must be avoided, as they can be toxic to horses.
Whether or not your horse will eat their bedding is another factor that can affect his or her health. Most types of bedding should not be consumed by horses and can cause colic or other illnesses that can be fatal. Each horse is different in the types of bedding that they will and will not eat. It is therefore important to consider each individual horse when choosing the type of bedding to use. It is important to select a bedding type that the horse will not consume. In the case that you cannot find bedding your horse will not eat it is best to use a product that will be less likely to cause harm when consumed. For example, straw is more digestible that wood and so, in the case that your horse will eat both, straw bedding is a better choice.
Edible bedding may also act as an extra food source. It is therefore important to consider your horses’ health and weight when deciding whether or not to provide them with this extra source of food.
The conditions of your stalls will also affect the type of bedding you choose. If your stalls are smelly you most likely have an ammonia problem. In order to combat the odor and remove the toxic ammonia you will want to choose highly absorbent bedding and perhaps even use a stall deodorizer. This will reduce the odor and in most cases the fly population as well. If you do not have an issue with odor in your stalls you may not requite a type of bedding that is as absorbent.
Hoof health can also be affected by the absorbency of bedding. Highly absorbent bedding will keep urine off of your horses’ hooves and will also dry the hooves when the horse comes in from a wet field. Highly absorbent bedding is recommended if your fields are often wet. However, if your fields are dry or your horse doesn’t get his or her hooves wet very often you may want to use less absorbent bedding.
Certain types of bedding can be dangerous to newborns. Wood shavings, for example, may cause a new-born foal to suffocate or choke. Straw is therefore often used by farmers when newborns are arriving.
It is important to monitor your horse for any signs of an allergic reaction to bedding. Horses can be sensitive to certain types of bedding and may exhibit symptoms such as breathing problems or rashes.
Make sure that stored bedding is kept dry at all times. Wetness and moisture can foster harmful bacteria and fungus that can cause a horse to become ill. If bedding is to become wet or if it smells unusual, begins clumping, or has a dusty coating on it then it should be disposed of.
Other factors to consider when choosing which type of bedding to use include affordability, ease of disposal and the temperature in your stable (for example, you may need to provide bedding that can offer extra warmth).
All factors considered, the health and safety of your horse is undeniably the most important consideration when selecting a bedding type.
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