Horse owners have many options when it comes to bedding in the stalls of their horses. When choosing a bedding one may consider cost, what is readily available in a particular area, whether the bedding will greatly increase the dust particles in the environment, etc. For example, some may choose straw because it is more readily available in their area whereas others may choose wood shavings because they absorb more moisture. Hemp bedding is a new product on the market which may address many of the things a horse owner considers when choosing the right bedding.
Health and Happiness Starts with Breathing
A healthy horse has a unobstructed and well functioning respiratory system. Equines use their noses to clear irritants from their respiratory tract (dust, ammonia and bacteria). Nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing are signs a horse may be suffering with respiratory issues. Dust, bacteria, mold and ammonia levels can irritate the horse’s respiratory tract and cause breathing difficulties and bedding is a major source of this irritant.
Hemp bedding is extremely low in dust, hemp hurd is cleaned to remove harmful particulates that cause respiratory issues. This is critical to limiting respiratory and other health risks. Hemp has no phenols and isn’t palatable to horses, further increasing its health benefits.
Born in a Barn?
Ammonia odors can further cause respiratory issues in Equines. A 2001 study by the Equine Pulmonary Laboratory at Michigan State University's School of Veterinary Medicine found that young horses stabled during training suffered respiratory distress when compared to pastured horses of the same age. While dust and mold in feed and bedding played a part in pulmonary problems, exposure to ammonia also negatively impacts their respiratory systems.
Many types of bedding allow urine to spread along the floor of the stall. Hemp is a natural absorbent and is about 60% cellulose compared to 40-45% in wood products. Hemp bedding keeps the surface clean and dry while the odors and urine become trapped under the surface. Furthermore, hemp effectively coats scat by creating a “clumping” of the product, allowing for easy removal.
Don't Be in a Thrush
Thrush occurs when equines are standing in wet or urine soaked conditions. The responsible organism, Spherophorus neaophorus, eats away at the tissues of the frog, leaving a blackish ooze on the surface. Thrush rarely causes lameness and poses no major health hazard. But if you encounter the condition in your barn, you will want to review, and probably revise, your management routine. Hemp bedding reduces the fungal and bacterial growth associated with urine and wet stall conditions, giving equines a sure footed and safe bedding alternative. Hemp has been confirmed to have great antibacterial activity (Cellulose 2013).
An Apple a Day
Hemp bedding is recommended by veterinary clinics throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Although we have seen great success treating horses with heaves and other respiratory issues. This article is no way meant to replace a Veterinarian’s advice or diagnosis of a given horse’s condition. This information is meant to provide better understanding of how the choice of Hemp as an animal bedding will minimize the likelihood of occurrence of performance-reducing respiratory conditions. Respiratory conditions can be addressed through sound stable management practices focused on reducing the levels of dust and airborne particulate matter.
Photos provided by Old Dominion Hemp
Old Dominion Hemp is a Charlottesville, Virginia-based distributor of high-quality hemp bedding for animals. www.odhemp.com The motto we live by: Hemp Bedding = Healthy & Happy Horses.