Which Horse Bedding Is Best?

Scientists sought an answer but found there’s no perfect bedding for all situations. Each has benefits and drawbacks.
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Which Horse Bedding Is Best?
According to Swiss researchers, there are no perfect bedding for all situations, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse
There’s no shortage of bedding choices for your horse, so which type is the best? According to Swiss researchers, there are no perfect bedding for all situations, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

“Absorbency, feeding behavior, resting behavior, manure quantity, price, and labor costs all have to be taken into consideration when selecting the right bedding for you and your horse,” said Chiara Augsburger, BSc, Agr FH, Specialization in Equine Sciences, of the HAFL School of Agricultural, Forest, and Food Sciences, in Zollikofen, Switzerland, and of Agroscope, the Swiss National Agricultural Research Center, in Avenches.

Augsburger and her fellow researchers recently identified three bedding types’ effects on these economic, time, and welfare factors. They studied five horses housed on loose straw, straw cubes, and wood shavings for one week after allowing the horses a week to adjust to the bedding. The scientists presented their results at the 2017 Swiss Equine Research Day, held earlier this year in Avenches.

They found that loose straw produces significantly more manure compared to the cubes and shavings, Augsburger said. Stall cleaning was fastest with straw cubes, taking only 12 minutes for all five stalls on average compared to 17 minutes for loose straw and 23 minutes for shavings. However, the person cleaning the stall was used to cleaning out straw-bedded stalls and might have been faster with straw due to acquired experience, Augsburger added

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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