Making sure horses are comfortable in their stalls is important to all horse owners. Here are a few things to consider when bedding your horse down for the night.
How do you buy shavings? Does size of bag matter, or do you measure the number of bags per stall? Bag sizes vary from 2.5 cubic feet offered by one major retailer, through to 3.5 cu ft. Price should vary along with size allowing you to calculate per cubic foot cost but you should measure bags to verify the size claimed on the label because there is no independent legal measure required on shavings. If you are bedding stalls by volume then pricing per cubic foot should be the determining factor.
Habit often comes into play and for many of us the bag measure is used: one or two bags per stall a day. If you have bought the 3.5 cu ft bags and the stalls are still being bedded at the same per bag rate, it may be a smart decision to buy a smaller bag to reduce daily cost.
Absorption by shavings is also a major factor in bedding. The finer shavings tend to absorb more but can also be dustier. Larger flakes are more attractive in stalls and are generally quicker to muck, but do not absorb as much.
Disposal of bedding has been debated recently: the wood shavings take a long time to break down and compost from barns is generally only usable after 6-12 months of intensive turning. Straw breaks down more easily and in some areas local farmers collect straw bedding for free. Although it is more environmentally friendly straw is not easy to use in a barn, both in terms of transporting it and the mess it leaves.
Finally as if you were at the checkout counter: “paper or plastic?” Paper shavings bags are generally cheaper but less popular because many barns have to store shavings outdoors. It may be worth checking if the paper can be recycled by your local authority to cut disposal cost.