The follow up from last week’s Smart Horse Keeping post on using stall mats is talking about alternative bedding products. The point to any bedding is that it should absorb urine and moisture. Using a highly absorbent bedding means that you won’t need to use as much of it. Reducing bedding saves you time and money in many ways:

  1. Ease of stall cleaning,
  2. Less stall waste to deal with,
  3. Less cost,
  4. Less storage space needed, and
  5. Improved compost product (because there is less carbon in the compost.)

Reducing bedding also lessens our impact on the environment by cutting down on the amount of wood (or other) products consumed.  

Start by choosing the most absorbent bedding you can find. Traditional pine or fir shavings smell wonderful, but unless you have a cheap and readily available source for them, they may not be the most effective choice because of their low absorbency rate and dusty nature.

Research shows beddings such as wood pellets, peat moss or shredded newspaper are far more absorbent and contain less dust, mold or foreign objects than traditional shavings. These bedding products also compost better, faster and more completely. 

Look for readily available sources of bedding that are cost-effective, absorbent and compost well. Be very careful to choose a product that that is healthy for your horses – you may need to consult your veterinarian if it is a non-traditional product. Many interesting non-traditional products on the market including shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard, shredded phone books, rice hulls, shredded hemp, wheat by-products, sand and even compost.

For many years now Matt and I have been big fans of pelleted bedding. It is highly absorbent, comes bagged and with the addition of a waterproof cover we can store a pallet or more outside in a very small area. Pelleted bedding it is quite chore efficient and the small particle size means it composts easily. Pelleted bedding is also very low in dust so horse (and human!) health benefits are high. When the weather isn’t freezing, we like to dampen pellets first so they expand before we add them to a stall.

Visit for more information on bedding choices.