Bulk Bedding for Horse Farms

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Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

It’s no secret that buying bedding (often, sawdust or shavings) in bulk is generally an economical solution to managing your bedding costs. Amie Loring, event rider and trainer based at Willow Creek Farm in Southbury, Connecticut, puts it concisely: “Bulk sawdust is my all-time favorite bedding. It’s inexpensive, easy to muck and usually smells fresh. But with mills closing down, the supply can be unreliable.”

The other issue to consider is storage and protection from rain, snow and wind. If you are considering buying in bulk, there are a few things to think about first:

  • If you plan to store the sawdust inside the barn or in an attached building, consider checking with your insurance company and local fire marshal about any restrictions or guidelines about safe indoor storage.
  • If you don’t have an existing off-barn storage bin or shed and plan to build a structure, check with your local zoning commission about any specifications the zoning code might have about accessory structures.
  • Ask your supplier how they deliver their sawdust or shavings--you’ll need to make sure that your storage area is easily accessible for their truck or tractor-trailer.

Stable Management checked in with some bulk bedding devotees, and one popular solution to storage is a three-sided bin. You can build the bin to the size you need, but a height of about four feet seems to work well. Cover the bin with a tarp that is secured with bungees to screw eyes along the outside of the bin. One drawback is that the tarp can be difficult to remove after an ice storm or heavy snow, so you’ll need to plan winter access in advance or have an emergency stash of bagged shavings in the barn to cover those situations. Also, plan to locate the bin close enough to the barn so that you don’t waste a lot of time going back and forth during stall cleaning time.

With some advance planning, you could find bulk bedding to be an environmentally friendly and economical solution for your farm.