I will admit that I like the ascetics of pine shavings in horse stalls, which is why we sell them. Pine shavings have been the industry standard for a long time, however a reality is taking place, wood fiber is no longer an undesirable waste product, it has value. Most wood waste is now being used right at the mill as a feedstock for making chipboard, OSB and other construction materials or it's being made into pellets and briquettes for fuels. In Alberta this has been a huge problem all of a sudden, which is creating unexpected shortages of traditional wood shavings.
In the last year I found myself reconsidering wood
shavings and sawdust for a number of solid reasons.
Firstly, considering the extra work involved with buying,
moving and cleaning shavings it is time to see if there
has been any improvements in the bedding market.
Small bales of shavings are much more available than bulk but just don't work for everyone. Cost is a bit higher and efficiency is not that great for the extra dollars you pay. We sell high quality shavings in larger bales for those that like them, however I implore the average stable owner or horse facility to consider the new gold standard for horse and livestock bedding, Pine pellets. Please read through the information below and consider making the switch today.
Pine pellets absorb four times their weight in liquid and naturally neutralize the ammonia odor in urine. Their ability to quickly and effectively absorb moisture makes pine pellets the perfect horse or livestock bedding: They also have numerous equine health benefits and as an added bonus wood pellet bedding makes stall cleaning much easier, and since you use less of the product, you will save money and time.
Using shavings means that your workload cleaning stalls is almost double (or more) than that of pellet bedding.
Shavings flakes are large and loose, plus they are not as readily absorbent. When shavings are made the sawmill planer actually burnishes the surface of the flake making it somewhat shiny, this polished surface is a lot less absorbent as the wood fibers have been compressed by the cutters. What this means in the stall is that when the shavings are urinated upon, the bulk of the urine passes through the flakes and ends up underneath the bedding, often running under the mats or soaking into the concrete or surface material of the stall. Eventually the flakes will absorb some of the urine but not as efficiently as the pine pellet fiber can.
With Pine pellet fiber the urine is almost instantly absorbed preventing the urine from flowing through it to the floor. The fibers absorb the liquid and form a clump or pancake on the surface that is very easy to to pickup, almost nothing will reach the floor of the stall.
Pine pellet fiber is much more effective at this because of the way the pellet wood fibers are processed and created. Once the Pine fiber has been put through the hammer mill/grinder it is sent to a dryer. After drying, the fiber is screened and the dust removed, then sent to the pellet machine where the fibre is heated and forced through a die. At this stage the fibers basically burst from the heat, this renders the once intact fibers into a looser more absorbent mass. When the pellets are expanded and used in the stall there absorbancy is at least 4 times greater than a flake or shaving made for the same material.
Listed below are some other important benefits and comparisons to consider.
While you can simply use the pellets right out of the bag and left in the pellet form, it's not recommended. The bedding pellets are a densified, highly compressed product that facilitates reduced space for transport and storage.
The recommended method is to slightly wet the pellets
before allowing the horse onto the bedding. On contact
with a little water, the bedding will instantly fluff to
its original form and provide a soft, highly absorbent
Unprepared pellets don't provide a stable footing for the horse. Most people that say they don't like pellet bedding have not prepared them or softened them (a process requiring only a few minutes) and were using them in the hard pellet form, we find most of our pellets users LOVE pellets and can't ever see themselves going back to other materials.
Using Shavings and Pellets :
If you are finding you still like to use shavings but are frustrated with the cost and inefficiency of them, try mixing pellets and shavings together in the stall. Put a layer of softened pellets on the bottom and add a few bags of shavings on top of the bed of pellet material. The pellets are much better at absorption and will keep the shavings clean and drier for longer.
Reduction in the Manure Pile :
The particle size of our pelletized bedding work in tandem with the super absorbent pine fiber will noticeably reduce the amount you haul away each day to your manure pile as well as the size of your pile outdoors.
What you will definitely experience with wood pellet bedding is a dramatic reduction of waste volume; often exceeding 60% to 70% when compared to shavings and considerably more when compared to straw. This point is of key importance in developing and implementing an effective manure management strategy.
Finally, compost produced from horse manure and wood pellet bedding yields a far superior compost and hence it has a higher market value.
Reduction of daily work cleaning the stalls:
This is a BIG factor to
The first day you go to clean a stall and use the new
pellet bedding, you will be amazed at how easy it is use.
The urine is quickly absorbed and wastes much less bedding. The wet urine spot will clump or pancake much like clumping kitty litter does. This makes collecting the unusable soiled bedding extremely easy and fast, only a minimal amount of the pine pellet bedding is actually used up.
Due to the fact that pine pellets absorb moisture and
ammonia so quickly, moisture does not spread underneath
the bedding. You only have to remove the clumped areas
which are small, reducing the proportion of wood product
Almost all of our clients using pellet bedding tell us
that the time required to clean a stall goes from 15 to 20
minutes per stall down to 5 minutes or less . If you are
paying workers to clean stalls by the hour, this is a HUGE
cost savings factor in it's own right.
You also see a large reduction in the amount of pellet bedding required to keep the stalls refreshed on a daily or weekly basis. Many users find they only use 1 to 1.5 bags a week per stall to maintain the highest level cleanliness.
In a study done pitting pine pellets against pine shavings the cost (all costs including labor) was about $1920 for pine shavings verses less than $1390 for pellets based on a single 12 x12 stall with horse for 1 year.
With shavings the average use per stall is 3 to 5 bags per week at an average or $7 to $8 each. With pellets you only require 1 to 2 bags at an average of $6 to $7 each. Over a year using pellets this adds up into a lot of savings.
A ton of pellets (50 bags) ranges in cost from $280 to$ 310 average. For budgeting purposes that means 1 horse/stall will run about $450 per year give or take a bit when you use pellet bedding. Shavings are about $600-$700 plus if you are buying the baled shavings. One stable owner told me they saved about $700 per horse per year using pellet bedding.
Odor control was vastly superior with the pellets as was moisture absorption. Overall pine pellet bedding wins out in every aspect when compared to shavings.
Count on about 1.2 to 1.5 pallets (1 ton pallets or 50x
40 lbs bags) per horse per year.
Toll free 1- 877-894 -9378
Direct (403) 638-8090