Dust-extracted and dust-free horse bedding

Jul 26, 2022 | Horse Health in the Stable

What does it really mean and why are low-dust and dust-free bedding products important to the health of your horse?

Go into any equine retailer and you’ll see a plethora of equine bedding products, with many branded as ‘dust-extracted’ or ‘dust-free’ horse bedding. That’s great we hear you say! But in actual fact no bedding can be entirely dust free.

It’s not possible. So, what do you need to know about dust and horse bedding? This is an area where we have completed a lot of research in, and this has included working with top vets and industry professionals to find the answer.

Sometimes dust particles are visible – you can see them in the air when you spread fresh bedding around. The most dangerous dust particles are so small they are invisible. With the help of vets at here at Bedmax, we have identified how small particles can be before they can be inhaled by horses. We found that particles less than 10 microns can be inhaled and deposited in the lungs.

Based on this research, during manufacture, Bedmax and Littlemax shavings are passed through a computerised vacuum to extract all particles below 10 microns. To make sure we have removed as much dust as possible, we do this three times.

Dr. David Marlin recently explored the levels of dust in a variety of popular equine bedding brands available in retailers, all with claims of being low in dust, some even dust free. Of the 12 products tested, four exceeded the maximum limit of the sensor for particles measuring 10 microns or less, however, all claimed low dust levels, one even claimed to be dust-free.

So why is low or dust-free horse bedding important?

Dust is harmful to your horse’s respiratory system as it can cause:

  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Irreversible damage and even scarring

All of which can lead to:

  • Poor fitness levels
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Increased recovery time
  • Muscular and skeletal problems or injuries

Peter ‘Spike’ Milligan is a highly experienced equine vet who specialises in the management of performance horses at all levels. Spike explains: “The inhalation of airborne particles and the simple irritation to the mucosal lining of the respiratory tract is one very common factor in respiratory health and overall performance. These particles can take the form of dust and spores from bedding. Horses don’t need to have a true allergy to develop disease and the presence of these particles will irritate the mucosa and lead to inflammation.”

The immediate environment you create in your horse’s stable is one of the most important factors. You can’t control the external environment, but you can manage your horse’s stable environment and that can have a huge influence on ensuring a healthy respiratory tract. Respiratory disease is extremely common in horses and often symptoms are not recognised until much later. Prevention is always better than cure.

We know we talk about dust a lot, but it’s only because we’re so passionate about the health and welfare of horses. We can confidently say that all our bedding products are as free from dust particles as possible which makes them a safe option for all horses, whether they are competing at top level or hacking once a week.