Stable Shavings - Making a Great Bed
There are several materials which will provide excellent bedding for your horse. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Some equestrians prefer straw or hemp whilst others favour using wood fibre or wood pellets. You should certainly consider the benefits of wood stable shavings.
Wood shavings are an extremely popular form of bedding. They are highly absorbent and are light and so easy to muck out. It is important that you use shavings which have been specially produced for use as animal bedding. Some shavings such as those from saw mills may have sharp edges and could contain a variety of rubbish and debris.
Shavings specifically produced for bedding are extremely comfortable. They provide support for hooves and cushioning for your horse’s joints. They control moisture well and are long lasting. It is possible to purchase dust extracted shavings if your horse has respiratory issues.
If you like the sound of stable shavings then you must think about how you will dispose of them. They can be burned but if you don’t have the facility to burn them then they are often unwelcome on muck heaps because they take some time to break down and rot.
Making a Bed
So how do you make a great bed for your horse from stable shavings?
You will require between four and six bags of shavings to create a good bed in a typical loose box or stable. A 20kg bag of shavings will cover two to three square metres. Rubber matting provides an excellent substrate for your shavings.
Spread the shavings evenly using a fork to aerate them and fluff them up. You are aiming for a level bed which is between six and eight inches deep and which covers the majority of the floor area. Leave some space at the door so that the shavings do not escape into the yard. This depth of bed is ideal for moisture management and so less shavings will have to be replaced when you muck out. Some owners prefer to bank the shavings against the walls to create a reserve of dry material.
Maintaining a Great Bed
You should remove your horse from its stable if at all possible when it is time to muck out. Any droppings should be removed as soon as possible using a shavings fork. Carefully shake the fork each time you use it to release any clean shavings. These will then drop back onto the surface of the bedding and so will minimise wastage.
When you have removed all of the waste, fluff the shavings with the fork. Every two or three days, heap dry surface shavings around the edges of the stable and then remove areas of wet shavings. Then spread the shavings from the edges evenly across the stable again. Top up the bedding with fresh shavings to the required depth. You will probably require less than two bags of stable shavings each week but this will depend on your horse’s toilet habits and how often they are brought in.
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By Belinda Hankins Miller from U.S.A. (flickr.com) ,