Easy To Compost Bedding? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-08-2019, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Easy To Compost Bedding?

Hey! What's everyone finding is the easiest bedding to compost? I'm used to using shavings in the stalls, but they take so long to break down in the compost pile. I don't stall horses a lot anyways but am looking for a better option. Any thoughts?

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post #2 of 8 Old 12-08-2019, 10:44 PM
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Easy to compost + reasonable cleanup? Where I work they use sawdust. It's from fresh logs, so not dust from processed and treated wood. I would have never thought of using it before because of how dusty I thought it would be. But it really isn't that dusty at all. And the cleanup is so incredibly easy. You don't waste hardly any. The wet goes right through the sawdust and into the ground, and the manure is easily cleaned up with a fork. I don't know how easy it is to compost because the waste is so little, you can't even tell it's in the compost pile. You just get the good old poop .

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post #3 of 8 Old 12-08-2019, 11:12 PM
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If you have access to paper bedding, that will be the easiest and quickest to compost.

Straw is supposed to be pretty compostable also, but its a major pain to muck out with.

Shavings and sawdust take the longest to compost.

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post #4 of 8 Old 12-09-2019, 02:27 AM
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What makes any bedding break down is how it is stored. Stacked in a neat pile, and compacted by feet adding more each day, it will rot way faster.

Straw will rot the fastest, shavings do take longer and, as for paper, forget it. Messy stuff, blows everywhere clogs into lumps in the stable. I HATE it.

In racing several of the horses were on paper. Their bedding had to be put onto a trailer and taken off to be burnt, non of the muck companies would take it.
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-09-2019, 08:15 AM
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Wood pellets break down into sawdust-like particles and decompose a lot faster than shavings. We love them, and would never go back to using shavings.

We pile up our manure + used bedding in a mound on the lower end of the property. There are three mounds, one for each year. Left alone (no turning), they take three years to become compost, which we dump into our garden and around our apple trees. So once mound # 1 is ready to use, we put it in the garden, and start a new one in its place. That way we always have a pile ready to use each year. You can accelerate the process by adding pvc pipes with aeration holes, or by turning the pile, but we're lazy, and have lots of space, so we like to be able to just dump it and let nature do her work.
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-09-2019, 08:32 AM
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Size and density of the particle matter. Your willingness to aerate and keep moist matter. Size of the pile matters. As does C:N ratio up to a point. The more nitrogen the hotter and faster but also the more upkeep. The higher the carbon the slower and cooler the pile. Shredding your shavings if you had a dedicated shredder would quicken the process. You wouldn't want the manure going through. If you have chickens or access adding that as fuel can help. I find sawdust or pellets dusty which is surprising with the amount of humidity we have. It does compost faster though. Another NO on the paper. IME, It is also a pain in the piles if not contained even though it does breakdown relatively quick.
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-09-2019, 10:40 AM
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I think climate makes a different in the decomposition rate too. We live in a moist climate in summer, but frozen for at least 6 months of the year (sometimes more) so not much decomposition happening in those winter months. The middle of the pile might be a little warm, but the outside is frozen hard as a rock.

On the other hand, if you live in a dry climate, pellet bedding is dusty. We only get a few weeks of dry weather a year, and never all in a row, so it's not a huge issue. I also have an open barn so they don't spend much time in the stalls anyway. I think it's a great choice for humid climates.
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-09-2019, 11:13 AM
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Straw was the easiest but most of the horses were on shavings so we had a system to help compost it as quickly as possible. I avoided paper.

We had a large, concrete area, which had five foot walls on three sides of a shallow rectangle.

The bedding was added to one side first (usually the left), flattened and tided like you would a stable bed. When the pile reached a certain height, a new one was started alongside. As time went on, a third one was created, so that we had three, neat piles in different stages of decay.

Every so often, each pile was turned to allow air inside to help the bacteria etc. break down the material.

Heat means that it is working; we needed piles about three or four feet high to create heat but colder climates may need bigger piles. The midden was the best place to warm your feet in the winter months!

Once a year, the majority of it was removed by a farmer but we also had locals visit to take some home for their gardens. Usually, we kept some of the newest pile and shifted it to the left side to start the process again.

Last edited by Caledonian; 12-09-2019 at 11:22 AM.
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