The cost of living is rising dramatically and keeping a horse is becoming increasingly expensive. So cutting costs without compromising their horses’ health and wellbeing is something that many owners will be deliberating.
One of the biggest expenses for most horse owners is horse bedding, so it’s important to know how to make your bedding work harder. These are 3 key questions we suggest might help you make the right decision for your horse, your pocket, and your peace of mind:
- Can you manage your existing choice of bedding better to reduce wastage and improve longevity?
- Can you find a more economical bedding with high health values?
- Can you be sure a cheap bedding option won’t raise the risk of health problems which may result in much higher treatment costs?
Putting your horse’s health first
We know that the great majority of owners in this country put their horse’s wellbeing first and foremost. Our latest equine health survey showed us once again that this is the absolute priority for owners when they’re deciding which is the best bedding to buy for their horses. Cost normally comes a long way down the list. But in really tough times cost effectiveness becomes a major consideration.
There are pros and cons to all bedding materials and brands, and it largely comes down to personal preference. However, it’s important that owners know how to achieve the best balance between economy and quality.
Managing your bedding better
Purpose-made wood shavings tend to be more expensive per bale but there are ways to optimise each bale you use. One of the biggest issues we come across is that owners think they can save money by reducing the depth of the bed. Large flake shavings are not particularly absorbent, but Bedmax is designed to form layers to drain urine away from the surface which is why putting down too little will result in more wastage.
Managing any type of bedding effectively will ensure you get the most out of each bale. Daily routines such as skipping out in the evening, banking clean shavings to the sides, and maintaining optimum depth are essential. It’s also beneficial to muck out as soon as possible on a morning to remove wet and dirty bedding – the longer it’s left, the more wastage.
Generally, it is advisable to remove all wet and dirty bedding on a daily basis, but to reduce wastage try removing the wet once or twice a week instead. Shavings made from pine, which is naturally antibacterial, help reduce ammonia exposure when on a deep litter system. This can work well so long as urine is able to drain away from the surface and be absorbed at the base of the bed.
Finding a cheaper but healthy option
An affordable alternative to shavings is a wood pellet bedding or straw pellets like our own Strawmax, which are a much healthier alternative to loose straw. Strawmax is manufactured using locally sourced, UK high quality straw, crushed and compressed into pellets. Strawmax is dust-extracted, absorbent, and hygienic because it’s dried at high temperatures. It lasts a long time and once the initial bed is made, it only needs about 1 bag a week to top it up.
You can read more about this new Bedmax bedding innovation at strawmax.co.uk
Avoiding the health costs of poor quality bedding
Even if a high quality bedding costs more, opting for a healthy bedding reduces the risk of health problems which can incur much higher costs for veterinary treatment. In our most recent survey, almost half the 950 respondents stated that their horses had suffered health problems that needed veterinary treatment and/or box rest, and the biggest health problems reported were respiratory disease and hoof disease.
Prevention is always better than cure, and both of these problems can be mitigated by using a high quality, hygienic, low-dust bedding, and managing it correctly – saving owners expensive vet bills and saving their horses a lot of discomfort and stress which is always the top priority.