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Spinal Research


Archive - Shavings -vs- Straw




-- Posted by PaulineW on Nov. 13, 2001

What does everyone think is better?

I was on straw for years and have just recently changed to shavings, but I can't decided whether to change back or not.

I think straw seems cosyier in the winter time and it's cheaper.  But shavings beds are quicker to muck out leaving just enough light in the evenings for a quick ride, but my mare is really wet and I feel like I am taking quite a lot out all the time.

I think she likes shavings better though cause I never seen her lying down on straw in all the years I have had her but I have seen her lying down on the straw.

I just can't decide - what's everyone else's opinions?




-- Posted by Roo on Nov. 13, 2001

I have used shavings for the first time in my life this year and I love them, I find it MUCH quicker to muck out and I think that the horses prefer them too.

I have two horses on them one horse is really easy and doesn't disturb his bed much which means that armed with rubber gloves and bucket I pick the poos by hand and roughly level the bed (making sure I don't disturb any wet bits) leaving a dry layer on top this way I don't remove any shavings except at the weekend (I'm thinking about trying every other weekend) when I do a full muck out. I find that compacting the shavings makes the best bed (I fluffed them at first and it didn't work nearly as well).

The other horse however is a messy runt ! He doesn't lift his feet off the floor but drags them around churning the WHOLE bed up banks and all. I agree that if your horse is like this it can work out expensive as you remove quite a lot everyday - but remember that slightly wet shavings can go on the bottom with fresher shavings over the top.  Oh and he also digs in his poos (the ones that aren't in the water bucket) - he must have been a cat in his previous life !
I will be sticking with shavings.

-- Posted by shellnmoll on Nov. 13, 2001

I've used both and find shavings loads better.  I am using straw at the moment because the yard owner charges 2.50 per week extra if you want to use shavings.  I've found that shavings are quicker to muck out and I didn't get as much waste as straw (I've got a messy horse like Roo's).  Also the floor doesn't seem to get as wet and dries a lot quicker than shavings.  The only disadvantage I can think of is hours spent picking shavings out of manes/tails and fleecy cooler rugs when my beloved neddy decided to roll on a new shavings bed! Argggghhhh!

-- Posted by Cob Nut on Nov. 13, 2001

If your horse is anything like mine she'll eat straw, but not shavings (I hope!)

-- Posted by Tanya on Nov. 13, 2001

I much prefer shavings - easier to muck out, less dust/spores, smells less too.  

Straw makes me wheezy (even when next to a stable with straw) so must be bad for horse breathing it all night.

-- Posted by ammatthews on Nov. 13, 2001

Back in the days when I mucked out between six and 10 horses per day (at weekends at least!) I always preferred doing shavings beds. Straw was much harder to muck out, took longer and filled more wheelies (which had to be carted off to the muck heap). Shavings, particularly with a clean horse, are a joy. Most of the shavings horses were so clean that they'd always "go" in the same part of the box, so all I had to do was muck out that area and the rest was dry/clean. Shavings also seem to soak up much more of the wet, making the bed much dryer.

But I do think straw must be cosier and warmer. Although a thick shavings bed feels softer to the touch.

-- Posted by LizCobby on Nov. 13, 2001

No choice - straw would be eaten, and one old chap is subject to COPD.
But also prefer shavings.
They are more expensive, much quicker to muck out, and as an absorbent not a draining bedding, with boxes with v poor drainage, the stables and their occupants smell nicer too.
We use rubber matting and half beds, non-porous matting, again as stables are non- draining. This solves additional cost problem and makes doing 4 boxes before work quite easy.

-- Posted by Belinda on Nov. 13, 2001
Having used straw for a few years and finding that my 'all I want to do is eat, eat, eat' cob just kept eating it, I went onto shavings and found they were brill and made him much cleaner, he poohed in just one place all the time. However, this year I have now gone onto Hemcore, made from the hemp plant and that is even better. It costs 6.50 a bale and I used 10 bales to start the bed off, you have to use water to 'activate' the bed. All I have to do now is skip out every day and remove some of the middle about once every 3 weeks, my horses have been in now for about 8 weeks and i have only used 2 bales more so far since they came in! The bed is extremely dry (apparently the hemp retains the moisture in its stem). It is nice and firm and doesn't get kicked around as much as shavings used to and is extremely warm. I would recommend this bedding to anyone, maybe a tad expensive to start in the beginning but in the long run I feel it will be a lot cheaper. There is a lot less waste and so it is good for peeps who have trouble with getting rid of their muck heaps and it apparently rots down better and quicker than shavings.

-- Posted by LizCobby on Nov. 13, 2001

We considered it as some on our yard used it, both as a bed and on matting, but our cobs and a neighbours Highland thought it was nice and crunchy and started tucking in!
Concerned re them eating it, with it being so absorbent, so have not used.

-- Posted by sue on Nov. 13, 2001

I use a bedding called Aquamax - it is pelleted pine that you activate with water. Once activated it comes up to about 4 times the original size it very comfy and warm great for copd horses and very biodegradable. It also absorbs about 4 time more than shavings so bed is very dry. The telephone no for the company is 01793  692982 they will give you your local stockist.

-- Posted by sunflower on Nov. 13, 2001

I find shavings much easier to muck out, straw makes a big muck heap as you have to take so much out and my greedy ned would eat her bed in one night.  Fussy person that I am, shavings beds look so much nicer and it's easier to get all the 'bits' out.  Straw triggers off my hayfever as well.

On the downside, shavings are more expensive and can sometimes be dusty unless you buy the pricier brands (in my experience).

-- Posted by issyhotten on Nov. 13, 2001

Rubber matting with half a shavings bed!.
Better for the horses (usually) better for me!.

(A friends horse was getting arthritic, and dragging his feet through the straw bed, making a horrible mess. Also he was getting stiff.
On shavings, 'cos he was 'on top' of the bed, he was less stiff and could move around much more comfortably. He was turned out during the day, in at night)

-- Posted by romanlodge on Nov. 13, 2001

Got to admit I prefer shavings to straw.  I changed over to straw this year because it is easier getting a delivery of round straw bales (which last ages) than going and picking up 6 or 7 bales of shavings at a time.  The cost is a great bonus too.....but.....I stink, rugs are beginning to stink and the muck heap is huge already.  Cheeky is also eating it, which drives me mad cause he has lovely hay and the straw blows everywhere making my stables look really untidy if I don't sweep up every day.  I used to use deep litter(ish) with the shavings.  I would lift all the poos and throw the top dry surface of my bed on my bankings and leave the compacted bottom layer, then I would remove part or all of his wet patch.  If you do this the bed is warmer and I have seen the heat rise from it on a cold day.  The last lot of shavings I got were from East Calder, they had cedar through them and the smell was gorgeous.

-- Posted by Sharon H on 11:36 am on Nov. 14, 2001

I was reading a post on the farrier's message board and one of the farriers on there was saying how many of his client's horses were having problems with lack of moisture in the hooves because they were bedded on shavings. Apparently shavings tend to 'suck' a lot of the moisture out of the hooves. I wonder if these super absorbent things make the problem even worse? Anyone noticed it?

-- Posted by DalesFan on Nov. 14, 2001

I use shavings in the field shelter (which has a concrete floor)  Although they pee in it very very rarely do they poo.  Which means it is great.  A few handfuls of fresh on top everyday and they have a warm soft bed.  Only problem being is that when I get back from uni I'll have 10 weeks of bed to remove!  Aaaagggghhhhhh.

I don't think I'd use shavings if they were actually stabled though.  Mainly because of the foot drying thing.  Also because I find with a horse who churns (ie Tilly) picking out all those tiny bits of poo VERY time consuming - I'd rather do a full straw muck out.  Though if I was having to stable I'd almost certainly go for rubber matting.

BTW Tilly does eat fresh shavings (if it comes in a bag it MUST be edible) which is one of the reasons we go for deep litter.
Also on the cost front.  As neither ned gets lung problems, the field shelter is very airy and they are not confined to it.  I buy pierced bags from our local country wide.  Often they are a bit damp, but as I get them for half price, and sometimes free!!!, I think this is great!

-- Posted by Maggott on Nov. 14, 2001

Have you considered using shredded paper?

All the benefits of shavings but a bit cheaper and much, much quicker to rot down.  I am a definite convert.  But - I suppose my chap isn't stabled on a regular basis so the super absorbency thing isn't such an issue. hmm?

-- Posted by sue on 9:50 pm on Nov. 14, 2001

A tip for you, if you use paper bedding. I had all my shredded paper free of charge by asking a firm of accountants for all their shredded paper I had sacks full every wk. Enough to bed to horses through the winter!

-- Posted by Sharon H on Nov. 15, 2001

Don't you have to be careful about the source of shredded paper? I seem to remember reading something about the type of ink used? Of course I may have dreamt it!

-- Posted by DunPony on Nov. 15, 2001

I use straw over shavings because I get straw at cost.  It works out shavings are at least 4 more per bale.  Also although the straw makes a bigger muckheap it rots down much quicker.

Its odd though, my really messy horse goes on bagged bedding because he is much cleaner than on straw!  He seems to stay "on top" rather than digging to the floor.

I've got him and then another with breathing probs so will be looking at alternatives this year

-- Posted by Cloudnine on Nov. 16, 2001

We use shavings in the American Barn stables all year round because they are rubber matted and there are 20 of them so it makes mucking out easier. Although in the winter we do put much thicker beds down the barn is nice and warm. In the other stables which are rubber matted as well I use shavings during the summer and then big deep straw beds over the winter. If a horse is ill we often put a straw bed down as they are cosier but I always feel in the barn it would be too warm with the straw!

Friends who have race horses bed all there's on paper which I think they get quite cheaply, sometimes the greys do end up with headlines printed on them if they haven't been rugged up but they don't seem to have any problems with it. It is still best though to check where it has come from etc first. I always think the paper beds as they make them 2 bales deep look really warm and comfy like straw does so would definitely recommend it.

-- Posted by Roo on Nov. 16, 2001

I have used paper and found it VERY hard work to Muck out. I also found small pieces of metal even though the supplier said he had a metal detector and magnet to make sure it was free from old staples etc.

I wouldn't use it again although I have a friend who thinks it is great!

In a perfect world I would use rubber matting and a half shavings bed.

-- Posted by crazyhorse on Nov. 16, 2001

I have to use shavings as ned has allergies on straw/hay.  Personally I find shavings really time consuming but that is cos Molly kicks everything everywhere, drags her feet and then buries any poo that can still be seen.  Due to the cost of shavings I try to rescue as much as possible - end result being it take about 1 and a half hours to muck out :(  If she was on straw I would be more inclined to whip the whole middle section out and put fresh in.


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