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Should You Use Deep Litter Bedding?

If you have a busy life, then it can be quite a challenge to find the enough time to care for and to ride your horse. With work, family, friends and any number of distractions vying for your attention, it can be hard to fit everything in. This means that deep litter bedding is an appealing option as it will save you both time and money but, for the welfare of your horse, it is important that you strike the right balance between hygiene and convenience.

What is Deep Litter Bedding?

Deep litter bedding is the practice of simply removing droppings from the stable and leaving the rest of the bedding to build up. You clear away the top layer and create a compacted layer beneath. Day-to-day you merely have to add a small amount of bedding.

The Health Implications of Deep Litter

It is up to you how often you completely clear and clean the stable but leaving bedding for two long can cause respiratory issues for your horse. You must try to strike a balance between convenience and good hygiene. When the litter is cleared, it should be totally removed and the stable must be cleaned thoroughly.

Who Should Consider Deep Litter?

Deep litter saves both time and money which can be a major boon when you are struggling to fit your life into the time available. This method of husbandry is most suitable for those who are busiest during the week but who have more time to devote to their horse at the weekend.

The compacted litter can provide extra insulation during colder weather and can also prevent horses from slipping on concrete if they have a habit of churning up a thinner layer of bedding. So there are some potential advantages to deep litter over mucking out daily.

What is the Best Bedding to Use?

Equestrians have traditionally used shavings for deep littered stables, as they are highly absorbent and easy to pick droppings from. Straw is a more economical option but can be more troublesome regarding respiratory issues.

Bedding which has been formed from highly absorbent materials like as hemp, flax and shredded wood fibre can be a great choice. Shredded cardboard and paper has the benefit of being dust free, but is not usually suitable for deep littering as the droppings are difficult to pick and the wet bedding stains horses’ coats easily.

Regardless of what material you use, it will only absorb so much moisture. In addition, ammonia from urine will build up no matter what type of bedding you utilise and this quickly becomes problematic.


Everyone’s circumstances are different. It is crucial that you put the welfare of your horse first, but you may be able to find a compromise that saves you some time and makes life a little easier to manage.


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