The deep litter bedding system

 

Ah – the joys of picking stalls…..call it job security, quiet time, a pain in the rear, all of the above. There is one method of bedding and cleaning a stall that may work for you – the deep litter system.

 

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  • This deep litter bedding method works best with shavings. I have done it with rice hulls and shavings, and both types of bedding are appropriate for the deep litter bedding system.

 

  • For horses that like to become a toe-dragging tornado in their stalls, this method may not work as their manure may get too mixed in and more difficult to sort and remove.

 

small kiln dried shavings

Plain old shavings are super for the deep litter bedding system.

 

So how do you get started with the deep litter bedding system?

 

  • Easy. Pack your stall FULL of shavings. I mean FULL. I would start with at least 12-18 inches of shavings from wall to wall.  Then bank the walls with more shavings, and go several feet up. The banking of the walls can help to prevent your horse from getting cast, and also serves as your supply of fresh shavings to top off the bed.

 

horse in stall with rice hull bedding and broom across door

This stall is deep with rice hulls. Pick the gross, add fresh on top.

 

To clean the stall, it’s very quick and easy. Simply remove the manure and the wet spots.

 

  • You will need to learn where your horse likes to urinate. To get the wet spot out, gently and carefully peel away the top layer of the bed, remove the wet, and put the top layer back.

 

  • For this method, do not sift, toss, or move the bedding around. The goal is to have the bottom layer packed down and thick, with a fluffy new top layer.

 

  • Cover up the dirtier shavings with new ones. This serves a few purposes – to create a packed bottom layer, to keep fresh shavings on top, and to minimize chore time. Some horse people say the deep litter bedding system also “ferments” the bottom layer to create some heat.

 

  • Refill the banks as needed with fresh shavings.

 

Do you have to remove the urine spots?

 

  • Some folks do not remove the wet spots, letting them compact and ferment under all of those daily layers.

 

  • This can increase the ammonia in the stall (icky and dangerous) and create a nightmare with warped mats or soggy floors as the urine seeps through. This means you are stripping stalls and pulling mats more often.

 

sweet pdz zeolite and manure fork

It’s always a good idea to treat for ammonia, regardless of what type of bedding system you use for your horse. Stall refreshers made from zeolites eliminate odors safely.

 

You will save time

 

  • The downside is that once a month or so (some folks can go a few months, it will vary from horse to horse), you need to dig out the whole stall and start over. It’s up to you to decide if this method works for you, and your horse. I personally love it, and never mind the digging out of stripping a stall. It’s a good rainy-day chore and will give you a nice workout.

 

  • If you use rice hulls for bedding, this method is the suggested method for installing rice hulls into a horse stall, with the need to clean the wet spots every few days or so. The rice hulls act like a clumping cat litter, and the ammonia is not really an issue for several days.

 

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