Hemp Horse Bedding Anyone?
Your Choice of Horse Bedding
A number of factors could influence your choice of horse bedding. Cost, ease of transport and storage, ease of disposal and your horse’s sensitivity to dust must all be considered. So which bedding is best for you and your horse? Do you stick to the more traditional bedding or you tried something different such as hemp horse bedding?
While more and more of us are using rubber matting as a base to our stables (rather than just hard concrete), we are still finding that we need something absorbent to help keep the floor cleaner and drier.
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Straw has been used for generations as a horse bedding and whilst the best wheat straw can be excellent bedding, inferior quality straw may be very brittle and heavily compacted. Wheat straw is the most popular choice of bedding as it is cheap, warm and absorbent and it is simple to muck out. It rots down well after use and can be discarded in a muck heap or sold as garden fertiliser. Wheat straw is not a good choice for horses with dust allergies, can be bulky to store and must be kept in a dry place.
Oat straw is more expensive than wheat straw but can be cost effective in good harvest years. It has a nice bright appearance and can be disposed of easily. Oat straw can be very dusty and so is unsuitable for horses with allergies and respiratory issues. You may also find that some horses will eat the straw bedding.
These are now a highly popular choice as they are absorbent and easy to muck out. You must use shavings that have been produced specifically for animal bedding as waste from saw mills will be sharp and could contain rubbish. Wood shavings are inexpensive but can be dusty and hard to dispose of if you do have the facility to burn them. They should not really be placed on muck heaps as they rot down too slowly.
This is a relatively new form of bedding which is manufactured from recycled whitewood fibre. It is a virtually dust free bedding which is eco-friendly, insulating and comfortable. It drains well and so stays nice and dry on top and doesn't cling to horses’ coats and tails. However, the bales can be small and this material can be heavy to muck out.
These are white wood fibre pellets which have been compressed and treated. They can absorb many times more liquid than shavings and offer dust free, environmentally friendly bedding. Wood pellets compost quickly too but you should be aware that you have to lightly water them after you put them down in the stable to initiate their expansion and so they are more time consuming to use than other bedding.
Shredded paper is a popular choice as it is as insulating as straw or wood shavings but highly cost effective. It keeps horses very clean and is dust free. It is easy to store and reasonably absorbent. The main downside to using shredded paper is the difficulty of disposing of it after use. It can blow around in the wind if added to a muck heap and is really best burned. It also has a tendency to ball up on the stable floor leaving bare areas.
Or Hemp Horse Bedding?
Hemp is a newer type of bedding that is formed from the natural fibres of hemp plants which is a renewable source. It is highly absorbent, clean and dust free. which has been tested at Bristol University and horses suffering from C.O.P.D (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) may be safely bedded on it.
Hemp horse bedding drains well to leave the top layer warm and dry for your horse and the bottom part absorbs and compacts. This means there is less to muck out which saves you time and it can also be used for deep litter. Hemp breaks down quickly after use so disposal is straightforward and is a good option for composting.
While horses are not normally tempted to eat the hemp bedding, if they do continually consume it this could lead to colic. You can use a mild safe disinfectant when you first start using hemp to prevent a curious horse sampling the bedding and make sure that they have access to their usual forage.
Although hemp horse bedding can appear more costly than other materials, it can actually prove very economical in the long term; both for your time and your purse.