What kind of bedding is more suitable for horses’ stabling and why?
Bedding is used to absorb moisture, provides cushioning for horses to stand up and lie down and helps prevent bruising and injury to knees, hocks and elbows. Hunter and Houpt (1989), found that horses did not lie down on concrete without bedding. Performance may be influenced by sleep deprivation (Sprayberry and Robinson 2015).
Straw is the traditional form of equine bedding. Horses show a preference for lying down in straw; (Mills, Eckley and Cooper 2000) however straw has the highest potential for aerosolization of dust. Banhazi et al. (2002) found that the level of inhalable particles was almost twofold compared to sawdust bedding. The method of storage of straw may also be a factor in the potential dust created (Vandenput et al. 1997).
Wood-derived bedding types are commonly used as they are time efficient and clean. Dust content can be kept more consistent as they are processed in a controlled environment. Most research points to assumptions that shavings create RDC that is lower than straw (Auger and Moore-Colyer 2017 and Clement and Pirie 2007) but greater than in pelleted newspaper (Ward, Wohlt and Katz 2001). Kwiatkowska-Stenzel et al. (2017), found that crushed wood pelleted bedding created higher dust contamination than the straw in contrast to previous studies. Horses have been known to eat shavings (Elia, Erb and Houpt 2010) but perform less investigatory behaviors with shavings than straw (Werhahn et al. 2010) so it can be presumed to lead to less dust in the BZ.