Horse bedding- Straw or sawdust?

Since I was maybe 14 years old, rubber matting was the way to go for us, with a teeny sprinkling of sawdust. 
It works amazingly well, especially because my mum spent a lot of time, (and had far more patience than I), to train the horses to pee outside! 
The stables were extremely clean and smelt lovely!

So naturally, when I had my own stables, and brought Storm with me who was already "toilet trained", I continued with rubber matting and a sprinkling of Shavings.

The difference for me was, i had horses coming and going every other week, therefore I didn't have the time to toilet train them (or the patience). 
I found that everything was stinking of pee! 

So I started putting down a lot more Shavings, until they basically had a fairly deepish bed to soak everything up. 
I did this for over 10 years, and was perfectly happy, the stables are clean and didnt smell, and I felt the horses were happy, none ever had bad habits really.

During the winter months however, my horses only get turned out in the menage. Something I'm not keen on at all because it makes life a lot harder for me, and I think horses are always better off out, but farmers and horses can clash somewhat when it comes to turn out, it does with my hubby anyway!

But luckily the horses are out 24/7 if needed in the summer and the ground for the sheep, cattle and horses is not ruined come spring.  We're almost on the home run now before they get to go back out, so things are on the up!

But this winter, until a couple of weeks ago, I had more horses in than ever before, and for quite a period of time I can't ride at all because of having to do work on the farm.
The horses about broke me this winter! I was continously skipping them out, swapping them over for a spell in the menage, always filling mangers and Haynets! 
And they were sooooo messy, always moving about churning everything up, and I was getting through Shavings like nobodies business!!! 
Sod this I thought, I'm trying straw!

  Straw bed ready for Alfie to come in, and Bizzy my German shorthaired pointer, demonstrating how hard she's finding it not to trash it!

Straw bed ready for Alfie to come in, and Bizzy my German shorthaired pointer, demonstrating how hard she's finding it not to trash it!

And well, I was really shocked at the immediate difference! 
The horses were clearly happier on it from the off! 
2 horses, which weren't lying down previously had lay down the first night I used it, tails full of straw, and the beds were far less churned up in the mornings! 
I must admit I was surprised, because I thought their bed of Shavings looked pretty comfy, but they are definitely happier now! They are far cleaner, beds are less messy, which all leads to a far happier me!

And now I've got back into the swing of straw beds with the cleaning out I'm finding it easier too, and I think I prefer cleaning out compared to when it was Shavings. 
During the day I kick the beds up around the sides to save on wasting straw, and bring it down for the night so they have lovely deep beds!

They stables don't smell, I sometimes sprinkle a bit of Shavings down first to
Soak up any pee, or sometimes there is enough small bits of straw and seeds to soak it up.

It is far cheaper, especially for me as I don't have to buy any in as we have it to bed down the sheep and cattle anyway ,  but it would be cheaper even if I did have to buy it compared to Shavings! 
The muck heap is bigger granted, again not so much of a problem for me as we spread it on our own ground anyway, but straw is preferable from a farmers points of view with a quicker break down compared to Shavings.

I'm not sure what I'll do in the summer when the horses aren't in that much, will I keep straw down then, I think I just may!? 
I'll just see how it goes I suppose, but for me..winters from now on will be straw!
So if your fed up of seeing Shavings sucking your pockets empty of money .... prehaps it's worth considering!

And happily, today was a lovely crisp dry frosty day, yep, I did say dry! 
And the horrible wet ground was pretty firm, so I left the gate open in the menage so the boys could, I was hoping, calmly, stroll out into the field for the first time in months!

  Stormie, having a bit of field turn out time

Stormie, having a bit of field turn out time

And it worked, they were calm! But ironically, after me stressing about the poor devil's not being in a field for months, they were back in the menage for most of their turn out time, of their own free will! Go figure! 

Posted on February 17, 2016 .