Buying bulk bedding is a popular way stables cut costs. Some barns can fill a small trailer or have a large load delivered at a fraction of the cost as bagged products. For Laramie Clark Booth and her family’s breeding operation in Hustontown, Pennsylvania, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
“There aren’t many drawbacks to using bulk bedding,” she said. “One might be the lack of quality control, but I truly wouldn’t pick another type of bedding.”
For other stables, bulk is inconvenient. Here’s a few potential drawbacks to bulk bedding:
- Potential for toxicity. Some woods—such as black walnut—are highly toxic to horses. Establishing a relationship with a local sawmill provides an opportunity to ask questions about what has been milled recently
- Storage. You need space to store bulk bedding that’s out of the weather and easy to access. Some people store it in a corner of a riding arena. That can make an already dry product dustier and cut into useable riding space.
- Quality control. Not all sawmills have a kiln to dry the sawdust or wood chips. A wet product means less absorbency.
- Scheduling. Using bulk bedding means that an order to replenish the supply needs to be placed enough in advance so you don’t run out.
- Portability. For those who haul their horses to show facilities overnight, you will need to bag enough product for the trip, buy bagged or plan to buy onsite.
Stable managers looking for economical bedding options, but who still want the convenience of bagged products, might be able to cut costs by pooling resources. Establish relationships with neighboring barns and coordinate a semi-load of bagged shavings. Depending on the number of barns and their storage areas, it’s possible to accommodate orders as small as 20 bags up to a few hundred. It takes a little extra effort, but co-op buying can save everyone time and money.