DISPOSAL OF DIRTY BEDDING
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.