There are so many things to use as bedding!
This is NOT the footing! that was a previous post.
This goes over your clay, sand or mats
MOST birthing environments are STRAW! it is soft, it absorbs well and is a more natural feeling for a newborn foal.
Straw NOT hay! very different.
Straw is a great bedding. It compost well, is fluffy, soft, and natural when kept well by being cleaned several times a day.
Negatives are... it is very heavy when wet.
It must be cleaned several times a day AT LEAST twice a day, not just a skipping at night!
It holds in the ammonia that can harm the lungs of a newborn foal. They can also hold mold that is also harmful to horses.
Shavings... are a commonly used bedding. They are easily cleaned. They can be composted. Easy to come by all year. Generally every feed store will carry some type of shavings.
Negatives are... They are VERY dusty!
Dust is a harmful matter for any horse.
They take longer than straw to break down when composting.
They can contain dangers if not gone through well. What does this mean? Well on a normal basis I find SEVERAL large pieces within a few bags being used for one stripped stall. This is a photo of just ONE stall and going through three bags for a client I was babysitting for not long ago.
Pellets... are rarely used by a lot of people. They have the lowest amount of dust due to being compressed and they expand and clump when used. If used alone as bedding the TOP layer of pellets should be lightly sprayed with a misting nozzle from the hose, which seals in the dust.
Negatives. Horses tend to mistakenly think this bedding is a source of feed. They tend to ingest it! This is VERY dangerous! and thus again not widely used. They do not MAKE pellets in the winter as the same machine used to make pellets starts to be used to make wood stove heating pellets! So one has to stock up before winter comes along OR find a different source.
Paper... As we have all been on a search for a better bedding with less dust shredded newspaper has become a widely used material. It is easily composted, and has little to no dust. It absorbs the pea VERY well. And most newspapers are now printed with vegetable dye.
Negatives. Not available everywhere. So that leaves one to do the shredding, and again it is VERY heavy when wet.
There are lots of choices and one has to know their horse and their own abilities to clean, compost, and get their choice.
What do I use!
I have padded horse stalls SO... I use pellets on the bottom and three bags of shavings on top to cover them so the horses to not see them in order to eat at them and cause a problem.
EVEN this has its own process in that Sweet Pea pees in the center of her stall, while Navarre pees over to one side. So I only place the pellets in these very specific area. They clump well like cat litter so I only take out a few shaving and the clump of pellets used. I then replace only the small amount of pellets used and this leaves me to only use minimal amounts of pellets AND shavings. Thus I can extend my items and save myself money in the long run. AND mixing these two materials I can clean in the morning and I only have to skip at night as the pellets help to control the ammonia thus freeing my time as well.
Any questions let me know. I like all the materials... but when you have horses it is all about making them comfortable but being able to save your money for emergencies, as all the little things add up.