Thoughts About Stall-Bedding Choices

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If you keep any horses in stalls, what's your preference on choice of bedding? How do you obtain and store it? Have you ever calculated what it costs you to bed a stall per month?

I just happened to be thinking about this while catching up on stall cleaning after the long holiday "weekend"
--when I admit, I wasn't as punctilious about it as I usually am, and thus had more time than usual to dwell on such a thing. Our primary bedding material is pine sawdust, obtained in bulk from a local mill. At times, we've also used baled pine shavings, bagged, pelleted bedding made from wood byproducts, and baled or chopped, bagged straw. Like wood-product bedding, byproduct of proximity to the forests north and west of here, straw is easy to come by, as we live at the eastern edge of a fast grain-growing area.

In other areas, I've also bedded horses on fir sawdust, cedar shavings, and sunflower hulls. I've been in barns that used shredded newspaper, and just this morning learned that it's possible to get animal bedding made from corn cobs.

I can't say that I've done a per-stall cost analysis lately, though I probably should. For us, and for many others, the issue isn't choosing on the basis of cost so much as it is availability--a lot of times, it seems you just have to suck it up and use what you can find at the time you need it.

For instance, during times when the local mill's not cutting pine, or when winter road conditions are really bad, we can't get our hands on a large truckload of delivered pine sawdust. Those are the instances when we're likely to switch over to bagged pelleted wood pellets. One nice thing about those is that they come in 40-lb. bags, making them easy to bring onto our property and easy to stack and store as well. But sometimes, when supplies are short or just not carried by local retailers, we can't get those, either. That's when we have to fall back on bagged shavings--EXPENSIVE to use on a regular basis--or that old horsekeeper's standby, baled straw.

Stall bedding--not the most exciting topic of conversation, unless you happen to be a horse person. For those of us who are, it's a fact of everyday life and regular expenditure. So I'm guessing you'll have something to say about it!