Buying horse bedding can feel like you’re throwing money away. There’s a cost to buy the bedding, an expense for the labor to clean it, then you have to dispose of it. With bagged products often starting around $5 a bag, that adds up quickly. Profits are razor thin for many equine stables. Converting to bulk rather than bagged bedding is one way that stables can save on expenses.
Bulk sawdust, shavings or large bales of straw have a lower price tag because of the economies of scale. The supplier has far less time and materials invested in a loose product compared to a bagged one. In Hustontown, Pennsylvania, Laramie Clark Booth has sawdust delivered via dump truck every few weeks. For her, it's the only economically logical option for her family’s breeding operation.
“It’s cheaper than bagged shavings,” she said. “Sawdust is so much easier to pick through than shavings, and it has better absorbency.”
Since bulk materials arrive loose, either in a trailer or the back of dump truck, there’s no plastic waste. Stables focused on environmental impact can use bulk products to help cut down on the non-recyclable plastic.
Facilities located close to sawmills are likely to have the best luck with bulk products. In many cases, the stable manager can drive over and pick up a supply whenever it’s needed. Finding a reliable supplier is the key to success with bulk bedding. Knowing that the product is dry and consistent is important.
If you buy bulk bedding, you’ll need a place to store it. A designated shed, a corner of the arena, underneath a lean-to or in a covered trailer that’s used to pick up the bedding are all common options. Make sure you pick a spot that’s out of the weather and convenient to use so that it’s not a battle at chore time.
Also make sure that the supplier understands that there are certain woods that cannot be used for horse bedding, including black walnut. One facility had product delivered that contained black walnut shavings, and several of the horses foundered from the bedding.