Friday 21 October 2011

Useful things: Straw pellets

I'm going to start an occasional blog feature of "Useful things" - products which I've come across, or been recommended, which I've tried and tested and have found really useful.  If you've got recommendations of your own feel free to chip in too :-)
[FWIW, I'm not on the payroll for anything that I'm recommending, so this is all totally impartial!]

Today's product looks and sounds rather mundane, but it is rapidly becoming a huge favourite...Straw pellets!
It was Sez on the UKNHCP forum who first posted about them and I was intrigued.  Previously I've always used straw for bedding - I've had concerns for a while about shavings, given that we spread our muck-heaps on our own fields and shavings take forever to rot down properly - but straw has some drawbacks. 

Its awkward stuff to handle and gets everywhere, some horses will eat it (though not here, usually, as they have ad lib haylage) and its not terribly absorbent.  For one horse in a box its ok, but as I have lots of horses coming in and out of the barn, there is a tendency for straw to be spread everywhere.

Up till now, the only alternatives seemed to be miscanthus or hemp  - better and safer than shavings in terms of the muck heap but too expensive for the numbers of horses I have here.  

And then I found out about straw pellets...I ordered a tonne from this horse bedding supplier, who are extremely helpful, and the pellets have now been down a week.  They are fantastically easy to handle and create very little mess (a LOT less sweeping is now required - hurray!) but form a solid, warm bed which the horses seem very comfortable with (they look knobbly here, but break down quite easily). 
Even with several horses coming and going in, the bed stays intact, with no holes or bare patches and the horses don't seem to take it out with them when they move about either.  

Mucking out takes a fraction of the time as there is no need to rummage in piles of straw and its so much more absorbent that there is no longer the tedious daily chore of taking out all the straw and having to sweep out wet - you can see exactly where the wet patches are and just lift them out. 

One other nice aspect is that the pellets smell gorgeous - good enough to eat - but although I wondered if the horses would find them tempting they seem totally uninterested, despite the fact that most would nibble the odd piece of straw. 

I am now trying to be very disciplined and use up my remaining stock of straw but am longing for the day when I have no bedding but pellets! I highly recommend them :-)  

For an initial "set-up" in one of our big boxes (which are 15ft x 15ft) I used about 15 bags but I've been pleasantly surprised by how little I've had to take out over the first week, and I would expect I would only use one bag a week for a top-up - maybe less if I was on a more traditional one-horse-per-box system. 

The only drawback for a smaller yard is that you need to order at least half a tonne (just over 30 bags) at a time but if you can justify it, a tonne is more cost effective.  


amandap said...

I'm so glad you've posted your experience of these with a few horses. I've read Sez's posts with great interest as my lot have access to a barn and I've been deep bedding with straw in winter and it's a huge pain and hard work for a few horses sharing.
If I can source them I'm going to give them a go I think.

MegB said...

Hmm will investigate further, Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

We have similar bedding pellets over here, but they're made of compressed wood rather than hay, and it comes in 40-lb bags. They work great, as you say, for mucking out and take less storage space, and composting the manure is easier as it's pretty much pure manure rather than manure mixed with wet bedding. We've found with ours that we do have to spray down lightly with water to settle the dust - although overall they're less dusty than other types of bedding.

Lucie said...

Nic are you able me to email me details of the supplier please? :) Thanks

Nic Barker said...

Lucie, the company's website is linked from my post, or you can call them on 01507 359085 :-)