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Choosing the right bedding for you and your horse


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  • There is such a variety of bedding materials on the market to choose from, but the best horse bedding is quite individual to you and your horse. Depending on whether you need to prioritise budget, muck-out speed, absorbency or low dust levels, the best bedding for you is likely to be something different from your horse’s stable-mate.

    In contrast to the old days of the choices being straw or shavings, there is now a wide range of wood-, paper- and plant-based options. Some are scented, while others boast sustainable qualities – the choices are endless. Jump down to read about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of horse bedding to help you decide what might work for your horse.

    Here is a selection of the best bagged horse bedding materials to take a look at…

    NB: Although the RRP listed is for a single bag, actual price will vary with location and size of purchase.

    Strawmax horse bedding

    Bedmax Strawmax

    Material: Straw pellets | Bale size: 15kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 6–8 | RRP: £6 |

    This straw pellet bedding is described as dust-extracted, economical, easy to use and highly absorbent. It is odour-supressing bedding and easy to compost.

    View at strawmax.co.uk

    Blue Ribbon Premium 

    Blue Ribbon Premium 

    Material: Wood pellets | Bale size: 15kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 8–9 | RRP: £6.99 |

    This sustainable bedding made in the foothills of Snowdonia from FSC-certified timber. It is described as easy to use, super-absorbent, with a fresh pine smell and is naturally antibacterial. 

    More info at blueribbonhorsebedding.co.uk
    View now at viovet.co.uk

    Burlybed Original Extra

    Burlybed Original Extra

    Material: Miscanthus | Bale size: 20kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 5–7 | RRP: £8.70 |

    Made from UK-grown miscanthus, which is a crop that captures and stores carbon to combat the effects of climate change. It has a durable outer cane and spongy inner core, which creates a long lasting, economical and highly absorbent bedding, absorbing up to 3 times its weight in moisture. This ‘Extra’ version has the added benefit of naturally antiseptic eucalyptus and soothing aloe vera.       

    View at burlybed.co.uk

    Caviera Raviera Lavender

    Caviera Raviera Lavender

    Material: Rape straw | Bale size: 20kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 2–3 | RRP: £9 |

    This chopped, dust extracted, premium rape straw has added essential lavender oil, which smells great but also has a harmless bittering agent to discourage bed eating. It is described as highly absorbent, quick to muck out and fast rotting.

    More info at cavierabedding.co.uk
    View now at ebay.co.uk

    Easibed

    Easibed

    Material: Wood fibre | Bale size: 20kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 8–9 | RRP: £8.99 |

    Easibed is a dust-free, supportive bedding made from clean recycled wood that provides a comfortable and free-draining  bed for your horse. It is described as economical as you can use less than you would with traditional beddings such as shavings and straw, which saves time, too.

    More info at easibedding.co.uk
    View now at amazon.co.uk

    Ethos smart equine bedding

    Ethos smart equine bedding

    Material: Miscanthus | Bale size: 20kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 6–8 | RRP: £7.40 |

    This 100% chipped miscanthus bedding is a natural, sustainable alternative to traditional equine bedding. It is carbon neutral, environmentally friendly and dust extracted. As well as the unscented original version, it comes in lavender, citronella or eucalyptus scented versions.

    View at goethos.co.uk

    Green Mile Equine Performance Bedding

    Green Mile Equine Performance Bedding

    Material: Cardboard | Bale size: 18kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 4–5 | RRP: £7.80 |

    This virgin corrugated cardboard bedding supports a healthy respiratory system. It is dust-extracted and can hold 10 times its weight in liquid, meaning it’s highly absorbent.

    Megazorb 

    Megazorb

    Material: Wood pulp fibre | Bale size: 85l | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 8 | RRP: £9 |

    This double dust-extracted bedding is made from biodegradable virgin wood pulp, which is a by-product of the British paper-making industry. It is described as super-absorbent, easy to upkeep, comfortable and insulating.

    View at northerncropdriers.co.uk

    Nedz Bed Advance

    Nedz Bed Advance

    Material: Straw pellets | Bale size: 15kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 6–8 | RRP: £5.60 |

    This highly absorbent straw pellet bedding is capable of absorbing up to five times its weight in liquid. It requires minimal mucking out and creates very little waste. The pellets are highly biodegradable and do not need to be watered when laid in the stable. 

    View at nedz.co.uk

    Sorbeo horse bedding

    Sorbeo horse bedding

    Material: Wood pellets | Bale size: 18kg | Bales to fill 12x12ft stable: 5–6 | RRP: £6.50 |

    This sustainable bedding is made in the UK from locally-sourced timber. It is described as super-absorbent, cost effective and easy to use. Sorbeo also operates a bag recycling scheme.

    View at sorbeohorsebedding.co.uk

    Types of horse bedding

    Straw

    Advantages:

    • Cheap
    • Breaks down to produce good garden manure
    • Aesthetically pleasing

    Disadvantages:

    • Bulky and messy to store
    • Soon makes a large muck heap
    • Can be difficult to dispose of, particularly if you are running a large yard. Cost of disposal can offset initial inexpensive price
    • Some horses are allergic to it
    • Some horses like to eat it

    Chopped straw

    Advantages:

    • Dust has been extracted
    • Treated to be non-palatable
    • Wrapped bales are clean and easy to handle and store
    • Not as bulky as straw, so produces a smaller muck heap

    Disadvantages:

    • More expensive than straw, although cost is reduced with bulk deliveries
    • Sold through selected stockists

    Wood shavings

    Purpose-produced shavings are a popular type of bedding, but the quality can vary enormously — particularly with regards to dust content. It is important that you only buy shavings that have been specifically produced as animal bedding.

    Advantages:

    • Non-palatable
    • Widely available
    • Wrapped bales are clean and easy to handle and store

    Disadvantages:

    • Can be difficult to dispose of – shavings take much longer to rot down
    • Needs constant removal of droppings and care has to be taken to ensure the bed does not become wet, causing a build up of ammonia
    • Cheaper brands can contain high dust levels
    • Price can fluctuate

    Wood pellets

    These are made from heat-treated and compact sawdust. To use them, water has to be added to fluff them up and increase their absorbency.

    Advantages:

    • Eco-friendly
    • High absorbency
    • Dust-free
    • Composts quicker than shavings or straw

    Disadvantages:

    • Can be slippery while still in pellet form
    • Need to add water when the bedding is put down, which adds time

    Hemp/flax

    Bedding material made from the chopped stems of hemp or flax offers an alternative to shavings and paper.

    Advantages:

    • More absorbent than shavings
    • Dust-free and non-palatable
    • Light and easy to muck out
    • Rapidly breaks down to make good compost
    • Wrapped bales are clean and easy to handle and store

    Disadvantages

    • Bales are relatively expensive and the initial cost of bedding down are off-putting
    • Manufacturers claim that long-term use make it competitively economical

    Rubber matting

    Wall-to-wall rubber carpet or tiles developed as a complete horse bed.

    Advantages:

    • Provides a comparatively soft non-slip base, guarding against capped hocks, etc
    • Easy to muck out and can be hosed down
    • In theory, no extra bedding costs, although some prefer to use a light layer of shavings over the matting

    Disadvantages:

    • Considerable initial capital outlay to install
    • Not aesthetic
    • Can appear cold and is slow to dry in the winter

    Paper/Cardboard

    This tends to be a mixture of newspaper, magazine and other unwanted printed matter. It is often considered to be a cheaper option, but a large number of bales may be needed to create a thick bed. It is also worth considering cardboard, which has similar advantages to paper but is heavier and so less likely to blow around the yard.

    Advantages:

    • Dust-free and non-palatable — a good choice for allergy-suffering horses
    • Produces a warm bed
    • Wrapped bales are clean and easy to handle and store

    Disadvantages:

    • Can be costly
    • To start a bed it can take five bales, and then one or two bales a week for a horse that is stabled at night
    • Easily blown around, producing an untidy-looking yard
    • Disposal can be a problem
    • Care has to be taken to ensure bed does not become soggy

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