EQUUS - - Tack& Gear -

A layer of fresh, clean bed­ding in a stall even­tu­ally ends up as a pile of notso-fresh bed­ding. What you do with it af­ter that can be quite the quandary. Dirty, un­com­posted bed­ding spread di­rectly onto fields not only has the po­ten­tial to dis­trib­ute par­a­site eggs all over your horse’s graz­ing space, but the bed­ding ma­te­rial it­self can kill the pas­ture grasses. Fully com­posted bed­ding is safe and even ben­e­fi­cial to spread on your fields, but dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als com­post at dif­fer­ent rates.

“The fer­til­ity value of the end prod­uct is def­i­nitely a con­sid­er­a­tion in bed­ding choice if you are com­post­ing, along with how long the ma­te­rial takes to break down to where you can spread it on your pas­tures,” says Jenifer Nadeau, PhD, an equine ex­ten­sion spe­cial­ist at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut.

“Straight ma­nure breaks down fairly rapidly be­cause it has an al­most per­fect car­bon and ni­tro­gen ra­tio,” says Nadeau, “but when you add more car­bon (from plant ma­te­rial like straw or wood) it takes much longer to break down. Pa­per prod­ucts, like shred­ded news­pa­per or card­board, and straw tend to break down faster than wood, and saw­dust breaks down faster than wood chips.”

Fully com­posted bed­ding is dark and fluffy, has no smell, holds mois­ture and is per­fect for con­di­tion­ing soil and grow­ing plants. You can spread com­posted bed­ding back onto your pas­tures or

in­vite lo­cal gar­den­ers or land­scap­ers to pick it up for free. You might even be able to sell it.

If you don’t want to com­post and spread used bed­ding on your prop­erty, you’ll need to find a way to have it re­moved. There are com­pa­nies who will haul away dirty bed­ding for com­post­ing or use in other in­dus­tries, oth­ers re­move it to a land­fill. Some of these com­pa­nies may leave dump­sters, while oth­ers scoop up your pile them­selves. Your lo­cal juris­dic­tion may have reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing ma­nure dis­posal, as well as re­sources for get­ting that done. The best place to turn for help is your lo­cal agri­cul­ture ex­ten­sion agent.

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